Professional Development

In the '2007 LITA National Forum' Category...

Sunday: Poster Session, Concurrent Session and Final Speech

Sunday, October 7, 2007 3:16 pm

LITA National Forum Poster Session

Today the conference went until noon but you could see that many people had already headed for the airport. However, there was still a good deal of information conveyed to those of us who stuck it out (also door prizes at the final general session, must be present to win – no, I didn’t….)

Things started out early with several people presenting their projects via a poster session. Subjects ranged from adventures in digitization to turning technophobes into technophiles. As you might expect, the booths with the most action were the ones that were giving away candy!

There was only one set of concurrent sessions today, so I split my time between two of them. The first one reported on a locally developed Workflow Management System, designed to ingest metadata and digital objects into Fedora, Rutgers’ digital object repository. The speaker was Mary Beth Weber who leads the metadata work group for this IMLS grant-funded project that is charged with building a NJ statewide repository. The system will soon be open source (by 2008) and was of interest to me because it is the type of system that would be useful in Digital Forsyth. As we are doing through an Access database developed by Erik and Kevin, this system tracks the life of a digital objects from their birth (at scanning) to their ingestion into a digital management system. Whether it may have some future value to us, I can’t tell at this point, but we will keep an eye on how it progresses.

I caught the second half of a session by David Lindahl and Nancy Fried Foster from University of Rochester. She reported on user-centered research conducted at their institution. Some of the results have recently been published in an ACRL monograph titled: Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester. Since I didn’t arrive until after her portion, I’m glad I’ll be able to see the results that are reported in the book. Lindahl talked about a grant-funded project to build The Extensible Catalog, an open source system that will be used as the front end to a library’s ILS (user interface).

The final closing session was given by Jeremy Frumkin from Oregon State University who talked about “In Our Cages with Golden Bars”. The overall theme was how we can think differently about how we pursue what we do with technology in libraries. We are often limited by our own traditions, expertise and experiences. He suggests that librarians can step outside (of their golden bar cages) without throwing away the things that libraries have always done. He used the same themes that we had heard throughout the weekend (all probably at every library conference any of us have attended in the past year): what has to be done to meet our next generation of users, still providing traditional services but remixing them in a way that will insure that libraries remain sticky (from “A term used to describe a web site on which visitors stay at for longer than normal. This is often due to the variety of content and features offered to the visitor which prevents them from needing to go elsewhere for more information”). He talking specifically about a project his library is working on: LibraryFind. It’s a metasearch tool, one that they have prominently displayed from their website. He also presented two other main themes: He believes that our business model has to change to one where libraries and vendors work together to find a mutual advantage that works for both while giving users what they want/need. He also believes that we (as in libraries as a group) need to find a way to brand our services/product so that users can find consistency from one library to the next. He likened this to the fact that pre-automation, a library patron could learn to use the card catalog at one library and be assured that this knowledge was transferable at any other library that he might visit. That certainly isn’t the case today and it leaves users without a sense of the collective identity of “library.” The presentation combined some popular user-centered themes and future thinking along with a dab of practical applications. It was a good solid end to the conference.

I’m sitting in the Denver airport now, waiting to head home in about an hour. It’s been a packed 3 days that, overall, have been well worth coping with air travel these days (We’ll see if I still think that tomorrow morning).

Saturday at LITA National Forum

Sunday, October 7, 2007 8:29 am

The day’s general session was much more in line with my expectations. David King, Digital Branch and Services Manager at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas gave an engaging talk about “Change, Library 2.0, and Emerging Trends”. He identified what he considers the major transformations that have taken place in libraries since the advent of the web: commenting (old way: letter from a patron; new: blog replies from patrons), friending (old: no good parallel; new: facebook, myspace), content (old: printed pathfinders; new:staff and patron generated) , tagging (old: catalogers; new: user generated) and mashups (a new concept). He talked about why we should let go of the past and should jump on the bandwagon with these technologies. He doesn’t think that fear of learning new technology should be a reason to ignore these trends – sometimes we have to do something scary to remain relevant. Being relevant is essential to libraries’ futures; as we all know, if we aren’t our users will turn elsewhere. One of the many examples King cited during the talk had to do with a project conducted by the National Library of New Zealand where they asked conference participants to complete the sentence “In 2017 libraries will be……” and then posted the 200 responses on Flickr.

The conference provided lunch for everyone and this was a good opportunity to network with those sitting together. I ran into Andy Morton who is still at University of Richmond. He was with Nancy Woodall who I had never met but who I’ve talked with over the years when we’ve been doing various technology projects. They were also an Endeavor site and it was interesting to hear what their reaction has been to the migration to ExLibris. I also met a couple librarians from East Carolina who talked about their first gaming event (they had Giz come out and present to them on our gaming experience). They said that they had over 200 kids show up!

Just a brief note about Denver this weekend. It turns out that it is one of the busiest event weekends in their history. There was a Columbus Day Parade (83 protesters were arrested), the Colorado Rockies played (and won) against the Phillies to win an NCLS spot in the playoffs, Octoberfest, Denver Arts Weeks, the largest Susan B. Komen race (today), a Genesis concert….Well, you get the picture. This translated to an expected weekend downtown crowd of over 80,000 people. So it was a no-brainer to head to the 16th St. Mall (2 blocks away) to people watch after the day’s sessions ended.

There are sessions through noon today, so I’m off to see poster sessions, another concurrent session and a closing general session. Then off to the airport and home by midnight!

Friday: Keynote, Concurrent Sessions and Hollywood Librarian

Saturday, October 6, 2007 6:54 am

The 2007 LITA National Forum began with a keynote speech on global warming. What does this have to do with libraries and emerging technologies? As conference planning chair Mary LaMarca explained to a packed room, LITA has a tradition of opening its annual forum with a keynote by a local speaker. Jeffrey Kiehl is a senior scientist in the Climate Change Research section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. He spoke for an hour and a half about the history of climate change science, how the climate has changed (global warming) and how it will continue to change, how humans are involved in the whole issue and, what scientists can do to communicate what’s happening more effectively to the public. It was a talk full of facts and charts but Kiehl, who has an MA in psychology, focused the end of his speech on why people interact (or not) with the environment and why the public is reluctant to accept the fact of global warming. This is a hot topic (so to speak) in public discourse today, so was timely, if not exactly what I would have chosen to kick off a technology conference to get participants in the right frame of mind for the theme of the weekend.

Two sets of concurrent sessions took place for the rest of the afternoon. It’s hard to decide what’s going to be the most valuable session to attend when you have to select from six, not knowing much more than the titles and the speakers’ names. I planned to try to find sessions that might have the most applicability to our library, so started out at a SRO presentation about WorldCat Local. I managed to find an empty spot on the floor, settled in and after about 10 minutes was saying “this sounds so familiar”! It was almost like I knew what the speaker (Jennifer Ward from University of Washington Libraries) was going to say before she clicked to the next slide. I was having such deja vu, I started digging into my userdata files and found my notes from sessions I attended at ALA in June. Sure enough, I had sat through this before! I guess I didn’t even think about the fact that some presenters may apply to present on a topic to several conferences (and for LITA you have to apply 10 months prior to the conference – for 2008, proposals are due in Dec.). But Jennifer did update her talk to report on the progress of the beta project between OCLC and UWL). Patrons are becoming more comfortable with having Local Worlcat as their primary discovery tool. You can take a look at WorldCat: University of Washington. They have made changes as a result of extensive usability studies and the catalog now includes articles along with books and has the ability to display a proper citation of the item, export it to Endnote or Refworks. It links to local holdings and availability information. There are choices offered to “get it” (ILL), “save it” (bookmark it in your browser), “add to it” (write a review), and “share it” (link it to one or several social networking sites). This collaborative effort by these two partners is impressive.

I slipped out of this session and went down a couple doors to hear the end of a presentation by two of our colleagues from UNCG’s Jackson Library. Scott Rice and Amy Harris talked about the game they created to help teach information literacy. It’s called “The Information Literacy Game” and they’ve made it available for others to use and adapt to local needs. One question that gets asked often came up in this presentation also: have they done formal assessment to see if learning is occurring? To date, their belief that the game is useful comes from anecdotal feedback from students and library faculty. That appears to be fairly typical as it is difficult and time consuming to conduct a quantitative in-depth study along with everything else a librarian has to accomplish day-to-day.

For the second round of sessions, I decided to go to for one that was more a “high level” view of emerging technologies (plus I saw Andrew Pace heading in the room and figured he might be looking for future column topics). The session was titled “Library 2023: Provoked Discussion on the Future of Libraries.” It turned out to be more of an open discussion than a presentation. The moderator was Gregg Silvis from University of Delaware Library. He posed a number of questions in relation to his assumption for 2023: There are 100,000,000 digitized full text books freely available…

What would it mean?

  • To be a research library, or for that matter, a library at all?
  • For scholarship?
  • For the general populace?
  • For cataloging?
  • For Kinko‚Äôs?

The session became an idea exchange forum. For the most part, what I heard were concepts we have been discussing over the past year in relation to our strategic planning: library as place, students who want things online and now, ownership vs. access, copyright, etc. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t hear anything revolutionary that I could bring back and implement, but it was reassuring to leave the session thinking that we have been doing what needs to be done to head ZSR Library the right direction.

The afternoon sessions were followed by a sponsor reception. Free food, cash bar. What happened to vendors underwriting a librarian’s happy hour? Don’t they know we are on tight budgets? Really, it was a good chance to meet some of the folks attending LITA and I was happy to see one familiar face. I met up with Cindy Saylor, who is from the UNC Pembroke Library. I first became acquainted with Cindy way back when Roz Tedford went through the Master Trainer program and Cindy was one of her fellow master trainers. Since then Cindy went on to be Systems Librarian there and then was promoted to Assistant Dean of Systems and Public Services last year. We had a chance to catch up and then went on to view The Hollywood Librarian. I had heard somewhat harsh reviews on it from folks from ZSR who attended the UNCG screening last week, but thought I should form my own opinion. It was well done and did a mostly good job of illustrating why the typical portrayal of librarians in film short changes the profession. I did think they could have found more than one young librarian to interview (although the eyebrow ring was a nice touch). But it sort of lost me when they politicized the film through the detailed focus on the Salinas Libraries funding issue. I thought the film was about 1/2 hour too long (we were sitting in straightback conference room chairs, NOT theater stadium seating), and the desired point could have been made more succinctly. However, I was glad to have been given the chance to view this film that everyone in the profession has been talking about.

Susan Goes to Denver

Friday, October 5, 2007 6:21 am

Denver Skyline

I’m in Denver to attend the 10th Annual LITA National Forum. It is “annual event for those whose work involves new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field.” I arrived early yesterday afternoon thanks to an early flight and a 2 hour time difference. This was a bonus as it gave me a nice chunk of time to explore the city and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather.

The conference starts this afternoon (pre-conferences took place yesterday and take place again this morning). I was fortunate to receive a Career Enrichment Program Scholarship from the NC State Library that is helping fund my trip. Contrary to the common belief that these scholarships target new young librarians who haven’t attended conferences previously, they are also available to us seasoned librarians who would like to expand our attendance to a conference that we don’t normally have the funding to include in our annual travel budget.

In my case, I’ve only attended LITA one time previously, back when it took place in Raleigh either in 1999 or 2000. So it’s been a long time and I’m excited to have 3 days where I can focus on learning what other libraries are doing with emerging technologies. I expect to hear about Library 2.0, social software, the new OPAC and all the other hot topics in the field these days. There’s even a screening of the Hollywood Librarian this evening.

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