Under the leadership of ILEX chair, Nancy Bolt, the Independent Librarians Exchange had a stellar year!  During Annual Conference, the ILEX Executive Committee began consideration of an “ILEX Consultants Code of Ethics,” which will be posted on ALA Connect along with other tools of interest to library consultants.  ILEX leaders invite new and experienced library consultants to visit ASCLA/ILEX space on ALA Connect where you will find (and can share with colleagues) resources and tools to help you in your work.

A highly successful day-long ASCLA preconference, “Assembling a Consulting Toolkit” was led by ILEX members Nancy Bolt and Sara Laughlin and had 41 participants.  ILEX is now exploring offering this training online instead of or in addition to a pre-conference.   In addition to the pre-conference, ILEX also sponsored two successful programs and a lively discussion forum during the Annual Conference.  Plans are also in the works for a Facilitation Skills program during the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim.

So what else did you miss in New Orleans?

“Consulting from Both Sides of the Fence:  Why Libraries Hire Consultants and How Consultants Get Jobs” focused on teams of a consultant and a client.  Three well-known consultants with their clients shared valuable insights.  Consultant Bill Wilson was joined by Tennessee State Librarian Chuck Sherrill.   Consultant June Garcia was joined by Lynn Wheeler, Director of the Carroll County Maryland Public Library.     Consultant Kimberly Bolan Cullin was joined by Mary Hougland, Director of the Jennings County Indiana Public Library, and Edra Waterman, Director of the Plainfield Indiana Public Library.  Clients discussed why they chose the consultant, focusing on proven experience, a clear description of the proposed methodology, and a clear and reasonable budget.  Consultants indicated how they decided whether to respond to a Request for Proposal.  Some of their reasons included whether the amount budgeted for the project was in the RFP; whether the scope of the project was doable; and whether they felt they could offer relevant services. 

About half of the 50 people in the audience were consultants and half were librarians looking for consultants.    The audience participated in a lively discussion about the consulting process. Nancy Bolt moderated this informative program.  

Some 25 ALA attendees benefited from an hour of free consultation during “Consultant’s Giving Back, An Opportunity for Free Consultant Advice” on Sunday, June 26.  Consultants appreciate the work they receive from libraries and this unique program offered the library community up to an hour of free consultation with a consultant of their choice.  Some consultants were also available at other times. At least 30 people signed up for free consulting advice.  An unknown number made appointments directly with a consultant.  For a list of the seventeen participating consultants, visit:  http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/ascla/asclaourassoc/asclasections/ilex/2011consultantsgive.pdf . This program, organized by consultants Nancy Bolt and Paula Singer was cosponsored with PLA. Plans are to offer this opportunity for free consulting advice at PLA and at the ALA 2012 Annual Conference. 

And finally, marketing and promotion were among the topics at the ILEX Consultants Discussion Forum on Saturday, June 25. New and experienced consultants brought questions and experiences to this informal sharing session moderated by ILEX Executive Committee member Jeannette Smithee.  Many ALA members who attended the ASCLA/ILEX “Assembling a Consulting Toolkit” preconferences look to the Consultants Discussion Forum for continued networking. Plan to attend the ILEX Consultants Discussion Forum at the 2012 Midwinter Meeting in Dallas. What are the challenges you face as a consultant? Visit the ILEX space ALA Connect and suggest some topics for future discussions!