Professional Development During a Pandemic: Transforming a Conference for Library Paraprofessionals


  • Andrew Grace East Carolina University
  • John Dunning East Carolina University
  • Kelsey Dwyer East Carolina University
  • Walter Lanham East Carolina University
  • Joe Barricella East Carolina University


Conferences, Paraprofessional, Professional Development


The annual, one-day Paraprofessional Conference is hosted, planned, and coordinated by East Carolina University’s Joyner Library. Since 2004, the conference has provided professional development opportunities geared to library staff from academic, school, and public libraries across North Carolina. Its unique focus on paraprofessionals has made the conference a consistent success over its 15 years in existence. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated planning and logistics for the conference originally scheduled for early May. This article describes the efforts made by the Paraprofessional Conference Planning Committee to reimagine a face-to-face conference as a completely virtual synchronous experience. We will share our processes, practical lessons learned, successes, and shortcomings to support others who are interested in creating meaningful and engaging virtual conferences, whether by choice or necessity.

Author Biographies

Andrew Grace, East Carolina University

Andrew works as the Federal Documents and Microforms Manager within the Joyner Library Research and Instructional Services.

John Dunning, East Carolina University

John Dunning is a Special Collections Cataloger with Joyner Library for over three years. 

Kelsey Dwyer, East Carolina University

Kelsey works in Joyner Library Administration and is receiving her Masters from East Carolina University.

Walter Lanham, East Carolina University

Walter is currently pursuing a MLS degree while working full-time in the Research and Instructional Services department at the Joyner Library.

Joe Barricella, East Carolina University

Joe currently works as the Production Coordination in Joyner Library’s Application and Digital Services division.






Research & Librarianship