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Air Force to host joint library workshop

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Department of Defense library professionals will exchange ideas, explore new technology and develop strategies for future library programs during a workshop June 22 through 25 in northern Virginia.

The Air Force, Navy and U.S. Marines Corps Librarians' Training Workshop will feature speakers from DOD, the Federal Libraries Network, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Air Force officials have been holding a workshop since 1979, and Navy officials joined in 2003. This is the first year the Marines will attend the conference.

According to Air Force officials, having a joint workshop allows each service to network and understand each other's programs and unique challenges.

"Meeting, working together and exchanging ideas allow for improved information sharing, social networking and expanded professional development," said Melinda Mosley, the Air Force Services Agency administrative librarian. "There are also cost savings for all services; librarians always look for efficiencies where we can."

Highlights of the workshop include details on new cataloging rules, information on language learning, tips on how to work professionally with leaders and working with the media, Ms. Mosley said.

A key topic will be how DOD libraries can better serve and relate to teens and young adults, which include many servicemembers. Air Force library officials said they continue to add programs and expand technology to installation libraries to attract customers and to provide a better quality of life and educational resources for total force Airmen and their families.

"Our libraries are an essential part of the education experience because they provide resources to students and give every child the opportunity to read and learn at no cost," Ms. Mosley said.

This year, DOD began began their first department-wide summer reading program called "Voyage to Book Island," to encourage children to keep their reading skills sharp while out of school.

"Summer reading programs are a hedge against the 'summer slide' syndrome," said Ms. Mosley said. "Research has shown that children who read more, read better; they also write better, spell better and have better vocabularies."

In addition to programs for children, Air Force libraries continue to be an educational and recreational outlet for Airmen and DOD civilians at home or downrange. They also provide books or materials personnel need to support mission requirements.

Air Force libraries provide the following:

- Internet and wireless capability: 100 percent of Air Force libraries provide free public access to computers and the Internet. Wireless access is growing and is offered at 84 percent of all Air Force libraries.

- Downloadable audio books: Audio books and some videos are available from the Air Force Overdrive website at http://af.lib.overdrive.com. Interested Airmen and family members need to contact their installation library to set up an Overdrive account.

- Digital audio book players for deployed Airmen: Libraries order and ship devices called Playaways to deployed locations. The devices look similar to an MP3 player, and they are pre-loaded with audio books.

- Language and cultural learning resources: Libraries provide downloadable language learning materials to anyone who qualifies for a library card. Airmen can learn words and phrases to help them communicate when traveling abroad. Airmen can also use the resources to help them earn the Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus for learning DOD in-demand languages such as Spanish, Korean or Russian.

- Free tutoring services: DOD has partnered with a tutoring company to provide free online tutoring for servicemembers and their families. Libraries manage the online accounts for users.

- Materials for mission support: Libraries fund, order and ship magazines, DVDs, books and manuals personnel require for their mission.

For more information about summer reading programs, send an e-mail to dodsumread@navy.mil or visit an installation library.