This was our first Internet Librarian conference, and oh, what a conference it was. This is one of those conferences where I couldn't wait to get home and start finding ways to implement and use everything I learned in the last few days from folks who are immensely smarter than I.
The following is a rundown of the sessions I attended, and links to presentations and blogs from the speakers so that I can always find them again! :-)
- Lee Rainie (Project Director for Pew Internet and American Life Project) : Lee gave the opening keynote to a standing room only crowd of about 1000 attendees. He talked about trends in use of the Internet, about how teenagers are using the Internet, the "long tail", about finding political information, and about how the electronic world is evolving. Rainie was funny, at ease, informative and we found ourselves do a lot of "Huh...I didn't know that" during his speech. Very, very cool.
Stephen Abram gave the closing keynote address, and he is *such* and interesting and dynamic speaker. Fast, furious, funny and to the point, Abram discussed the ways for libraries to compete with the Google juggernaut (do you see a googlish pattern at the conference?). He listed 10 ways for libraries to compete with Google, and he ended the conference on a funny, inspiring note. Carrie and I agreed - "THAT was a good time."And that was it. Before we knew it, we were TRYING to catch a cab to the airport at 5am (note to self - always allow cute boy to share cab to airport, as he will pay for it) so that we could make the long flight back to Indiana, and then the 4 hour drive back to TinyTown. We were unsurprised to see Scott Brandt making the same flight home...he was on our flight out to Monterey, and we struck up conversation at the airport. Nice, nice guy. :-)
Monday was the day of the Public Libraries track at the conference, and I'm proud to say I was a part of it from beginning to end! By the way, thanks to Michael Stephens for snapping this photo and proving to my boss that I really was at the conference (I'm on the left). ;-) Michael asked every public librarian to raise their hands....very cool moment. :-)
- Trends and Innovations: A great panel of speakers anchored this session, from David King of KCPL to Glenn Peterson from Hennepin County PL to John Blyberg from AADL to Sarah Houghton from Marin County PL. They each spoke about different aspects of their websites...programs they use, subject guides, and more. By far the most useful for me was hearing Sarah speak - first, she's the author of the kickass LIB blog; second, she spoke about what smaller public libraries without an enormous tech budget can do to pump up services. I was crazily jotting notes down about things I've wanted to do, but now HAVE to do to our website. It's killing me.
- Digital Content: This was quickly renamed "the session with the iPod Shuffle guys". Ken Weil and Joe Latini from the South Huntington PL spoke about their experiences circulating iPod Shuffles loaded with audiobooks purchased from iTunes. It was great to finally hear about the process from beginning to end, rather than just reading about it. They obviously have a library staff that embraces change, and realize it's okay for something to fail. Interesting note...they are going to start circulating Shuffles loaded with music soon. I'm still vaguely skeptical of the program in terms of implementation for our library, but I loved hearing about it. Also, I liked teasing Carrie about having a crush on the George Clooney looking speaker. ;-)
- People and Technology: Dave King from KCPL spoke about hiring and keeping tech staff, and Michael Stephens discussed the ten ways to promote staff buy-in when launching a new "tech" project or program. Hopefully we won't have to use Dave's tips for a while by keeping our stable staff, but I thought Michael provided some great pointers and reminders when trying to get everyone on staff on board with a new project. We've had some challenges in the past in that arena...
- Social Software & Site for Public Libraries: This session was also known as the "Jessamyn and Jenny Show!". Jessamyn West spoke specifically about Flickr (tagged photos) and tagging in general, and how this can be utilized by public libraries. Her presentation was very straightforward and informative, and even used the "F Word" - folksonomies. Jenny spoke about del.icio.us (tagged bookmarks) and how libraries can utilize this in setting up recommendations for patrons. In fact, Aaron over at TFPL has already done so. I haven't used del.icio.us before, so it was great to get an overview of it. Naturally, I have used Flickr. A little. Sometimes. ;-)
- Hardware Solutions:
This was a half and half session for me...the first half was less useful, the second half a shot between the eyes. Bernadine Goldman from Los Alamos County PL spoke of her experiences in setting up a thin client in her library. Since this isn't something we'represently exploring, it was less useful to Carrie and I. However, then Aaron Schmidt took over the stage, and I wanted to jump up and down for all that he said. His presentation (“Smart Computing at Your Library” or “Geek to Live, Don’t Live to Geek”) centered on letting patrons really *use* our computers...use the CD drives, IM, burn CDs, USB drives, installing programs they need, gaming, saving files to the desktop...all things I have been pushing for at our library. He made a number of great points about having a cleaning checklist, using Firefox, and protecting from spyware, as well as software solutions to keep those computers running quickly and smoothly (Deep Freeze). I'm so glad Carrie was there to hear his presentation and was able to talk to Aaron afterwards about their staffing and number of computers. I hope together we can come to a compromise on letting our patrons use our terminals, instead of keeping them locked down for good, which I hate.
- Future Tech Trends for PLs: This was a panel discussion from a number of the day's previous speakers about where they see technology heading in the future for PLs. Sarah has a nice summary of the session on her blog, as well as slides from her presentation. Much of what was discussed throughout the day was revisited...the future importance of RSS and Wiki collaboration, social participation online, giving users the computing they need, and much more. A great session to round out a great day of presentations.
- What's Hot & New in RSS, Blogs & Wikis: This presentation was from Steven Cohen of Library Stuff, and his presentation covered a laundry list of new sites that use socialinteraction, tagging, ratings, and a slew of resources to make life easier. He showed demos of a number of sites, which was really great for newbies, and I had to laugh when he mentioned that so many of these sites are "still in Beta" (such as Google News, which has "been in beta" for 2.5 years). Little was said about blogs or wikis, since the crowd in attendance were pretty much up on that technology. Fun!
- Planning for a Handheld Mobile Future: Megan Fox gave a really interesting presentation on handheld devices, their future, and how libraries need to adapt to keep up with this changing technology. She gave lots of examples of how university libraries are already providing PDA-ready information, as well as trying to forecast what the future will hold for people getting information from PDAs, Blackberries and smartphones. I walked out of the session with equal parts amazement, wonderment, and just a touch of fear. :-)
Wednesday morning was our last morning of getting up before the sun, the fabulous free breakfast, and of kickass keynote speakers. This morning, we got to hear Roy Tennant and Rich Wiggins "face off" on the top of Google's planned digitization of library materials. Wiggins is much in favour of the project, while Tennant has reservations. The speech was made even more informative when Adam Smith, the PROJECT MANAGER for Google Print, took the stage and was pummeled with questions.
Carrie and I walked out saying "that was a brave, brave man" (also, that he was a cute man, but that's neither here nor there). An interesting point-counterpoint that really brought the Googlization of the world more into focus for me. (That's Rich on stage, Roy in the foreground)
- CNN Library Intranet: Sunny McClendon is a librarian for CNN - and man, am I jealous of her job. She gave a talk about the intranet used by the news organization, and let us actually walk around the site and see some of the features included in the CNN library. Carrie and I both got some tips on what to include on our soon-to-be-here intranet at APL.
- Fostering Collaboration with Wikis and Weblogs: This was a presentation that turned into a sharing session about how and when to best utilize blogs and wikis, both internally and externally.
- Expert Reviews of Real-World Intranets: Unfortunately, I only caught the last 10 minutes or so of this presentation, as I was rendered useless by a wicked migraine in the early afternoon. What I saw of the presentation was neat, though Carrie admitted she didn't care of the style of just ripping apart different intranets with no suggestions of how to make them better.
And then it was over...thankfully, I've been able to go back and read blogs from folks who attended other sessions, who made notes of things I didn't catch or jot down myself. It was such an amazing experience, and I would go again in a heartbeat. Thanks to all the fabulous speakers and public librarians who shared their knowledge with me!(In what I'm sure is a first at APL, I'm submitting this blog entry as my conference report to my boss. Enjoy the photos and links, Steve.)