GVSU to host library conference

GVL / Nickolas Peters

GVL / Nickolas Peters

Jess Hodge

Ever since the Mary Idema Pew Library opened in June of 2013, library staff has been coordinating an international conference to share its transformation. The conference, set to be held Aug. 10-12, is named “Re-Think it: Libraries for a New Age” and will feature speeches covering a wide range of topics. Ranging from architecture to the furniture industry and to innovation technology, all topics will be covered by experts in respective fields during the conference.

The university libraries at Grand Valley State University teamed up with Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, and is aiming to help public and academic libraries share success stories, as well as rethink how a library works for a community.

Carlos Rodriguez, associate dean of technology and information services at GVSU, is excited for the diverse group of people that the conference has attracted.

“We’ve had a lot of interest not just in the community here and in Michigan, but across the country and even internationally about some of the things that we’re doing in the library,” Rodriguez said. “Not just the space, but also the type of services that we’re providing.”

Rodriguez has been co-leading and planning the upcoming conference since December of last year with colleague Julie Garrison. However, the original idea started when the new library was built in June. Rodriguez, Garrison and Lee VanOrsdel, dean of libraries, attended a conference that sparked their interest about having one of their own.

“We looked around and there really wasn’t anything like this that we could see that already existed,” Rodriguez said. “We were encouraged to do this. We felt that there was an audience out there to not only hear more about what we’re doing, but an opportunity for others to share what they’re doing. “

After finalizing the decision to officially host the conference, GVSU reached out to MCLS for help promoting and coordinating events.

Randy Dykhuis, executive director at MCLS, has played a large part working with the planning team to help put the conference together.

“One of the roles MCLS has played is to help set up registration systems,” Dykhuis said. “ We help people get their reservations for housing and food set up for the conference.”

Over 200 people are registered to attend the conference. The library staff hopes about 50-100 more people sign up before the conference begins.

The conference will include multiple speakers who will share their thoughts and ideas pertaining to topics like transforming the physical space of a library, what the community wants/needs, innovative programs and technology.

“It would be great if people could find one good idea to put into practice,” Dykhuis said. “Libraries will slowly start to become a more creative space.”

The GVSU library staff is just as excited for the many opportunities this conference has and will present. “This conference is a great opportunity to see new ideas from other people’s perspectives,” Rodriguez said. “We’re hoping everyone will have a broadened scope of how to create and interact with knowledge.”

A full list of speakers, itinerary, and registration can be found on www.scholarworks.gvsu.edu/rethinkit/