Professional Development

In the '2009 LITA National Forum' Category...

Susan’s Final Post from LITA National Forum, SLC

Sunday, October 4, 2009 4:46 pm

Demonstrating the Research Cloud
Since I reported in yesterday, I finished up my “hosting” jobs of introducing session speakers in concurrent sessions. I introduced Robin Hastings (Missouri River Regional Library) who spoke on “Collaborating in the Cloud.” She discussed how libraries can leverage their social networking presence using various free sites like Google Docs and Flickr. It was a talk geared to those just entering into the social networking realm and gave a good introductory overview. The final session of the day I introduced Michel Nguessan (Governors State University) , who presented his research on “Academic Libraries’ Strategic Planning in the 21st Century: The Role of Information Technology.” He analyzed strategic plans from 100 libraries and confirmed many of the typical goals that you would expect to find in strategic plans.

The final activity of Saturday afternoon was the poster session and it was nice to unwind from a busy day by chatting with folks about their projects (Erik above is hearing about the SDCU Research Cloud. Then Erik and I hike several miles uphill to visit University of Utah to find that it is closed for fall break. So we weren’t able to visit their Marriott Library, although it looked like a substantial operation. Then we jumped on the local light rail for a quick return to the city.

This morning I started early by attending a conference committee planning breakfast (I will continue on the committee one more year). There was one more round of concurrent sessions, but I didn’t have an introduction assignment so was able to pick a session that looked interesting. I went to a session by Andrew Nagy and Scott Garrison: “Next-Gen Catalog is Half the Solution: Making eResources Truly Accessible.” There was a discussion about Vufind as Scott implemented it at his institution (Western Michigan) and then he talked about their beta testing experience with Serial Solution’s Summon product, which Andrew is helping to develop. Summon looked very slick, but it’s not open source ($$). VuFind appeared to operate similarly to what we have seen with our implementation. It was interesting to see VuFind’s experimental browse function.

I’m sure both Lauren and Erik are reporting on the final keynote address by Liz Lawley. Recording her talk was my last official assignment, and was the most challenging as she is a very short woman who could barely see over the podium. So she moved around the stage, which made some recording adjustments necessary. But it turned out well and her presentation was most interesting as she told about her Picture the Impossible project. Be sure and look at Lauren’s in-depth notes.

Overall, this was a very successful conference (both from the view of being an attendee and from the view of being part of the planning). The Twitter feed was active, take a look at what attendees had to say!

Lauren’s Last LITA (B)log

Sunday, October 4, 2009 4:35 pm

Erik, Susan, and I are sitting in the Salt Lake City airport, writing up our final blog posts after getting a meal at the food court.

If you’re interested in the detailed notes from the last two sessions I attended, here they are:

The Next-Gen Catalogs session was interesting since we’re using VuFind now. The talk about about a VuFind implementation and touched on the results from a few usability tests. Overall, their remarks were good, though they pointed to changes in workflow for the library staff. They also demonstrated Summons from Serials Solutions, a product I’d only heard of before this session. It was interesting to hear how they had the two systems work together.

Liz Lawley’s closing keynote (another person that I’m a huge fan of) was a fun discussion of an Alternate Reality Game that her lab created to engage young professionals and help them learn about the area. I appreciated her thorough discussion of how they implemented it and the work that went into creating a good game. Lawley pointed out that in a pilot, many people are willing to donate time and money, but they need a more sustainable model to offer the game again.

I am so glad to have attended LITA Forum for the first time. It was a solid conference: good facilities, location, schedule, programs, and people. I picked up a few things along the way, but as with any conference, a lot of my learning happened between sessions and at meals. LITA seems to really get that, leaving good blocks of time between sessions and organizing networking dinners for those who want to attend. I hope to get to attend again sometime soon! Thanks, too, to Susan. As a committee member, she played a key role in making the conference a successful one, and was busy doing things for the conference for the entire time we’ve been here.

It looks like our plane just landed, so we’re about to board. See you all on Monday!

Lita last day – themes

Sunday, October 4, 2009 4:30 pm

This morning I got rained out of a long run in SLC but did get to hear the incredible sound of thunder as it reverberated across the valley. As I finished up my run on a treadmill I saw a few lighning bolts hit the mountains to the west and was very happy to be inside.

I attended a session from Los Alamos National Laboratory for the one open session of the day and heard about a service oriented approach to creating a large indexing/discovery/service information system. While we are struggling with 1.7 million records, LANL is indexing 95 million! The presentation had lots of technical details but one fascinating standard that they used is the Information Environment Service Registry.

The final keynote by Elizabeth Lawley at RIT discussed a city-wide game that RIT developed in conjunction with the newspaper. The slides are available at slideshare. The game included a number of neat activities including photosynths, quizzes, recipies, photography, and a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt was developed using scvngr (a commercial text-message based scavenger system).

Some themes that proved to be interesting this weekend:

  1. Library technology solutions continue to push towards more complex systems. XC/RIT, the LANL system, and Vufind were all a few steps further this year. There were lots of libraries who are actively using small scale open source systems and experimenting with open source systems.
  2. Libraries are increasingly thinking about their data. I saw a number of small and medium scale projects built on use or resource metadata that historically would not have been heavily used. Likewise, the systems that got demonstrated all had a focus on how to index and manage large datasets. There is an interesting contrast to this trend in the push towards cloud and hosted data/service platforms.
  3. Electronic books continue to nudge the marketplace of print books. The GoogleBooks settlement came up several times and there were some interesting ideas surrounding how ebooks could be more heavily used including the adoption of a netflix model (no due dates, automatic queues, intelligent suggestions), the need for more ubiquitous e-book readers (yale research), and the growing comfort with online reading “we spend more time reading information online than we ever did with books but it is still thought of as different.

On the E-book theme there was a great article on the impact that piracy is having on the e-book platform. I also stumbled across the florida orange grove, a k20 site for open access textbooks. While both of these recent experiences are on opposite side of the same idea (free books!), seeing them both in mainstream media on the same day makes me wonder how central E-books are becoming.

Lauren’s Second Day at LITA

Sunday, October 4, 2009 1:10 am

Today was the longest day of the conference. If you’re interested in the detailed notes, here they are:

The day started with the main reason I wanted to attend this year’s LITA: David Weinberger‘s keynote. I adore his Everything is Miscellaneous as well as Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and missed him by a day at an ALA annual, so when I heard he was speaking I knew I wanted to come to LITA Forum. It was a great talk. Weinberger is a philosopher by training, is interested in epistemology, and is a technology pundit (I would even say he’s a bit of a futurist), which means that most anything he says is interesting to me even if I don’t necessarily totally agree. (Though most of the time I do.) His talk focused on a transition in Western understandings of knowledge, from a dualistic approach to a more postmodern one (my words, not his). This way of thinking is heightened in our “age of abundance” in which we have access to so much information that it’s hard to find the BEST piece of information, or even agree on what that BEST thing might be. His talk also touched on satisfaction with “good enough,” the internet as a way to find like minded people to get things done, and how it’s a survival strategy to not look at every piece of information we find along the way. The talk was fantastic: great content, interesting slides, and some jokes along the way. What more can you ask for?

Next I attended the Lighting Talks that Susan ran. They were great! The nice thing about lighting talks is that even if one isn’t really applicable to you in your given setting, you just have to wait another five minutes for the next one. I was impressed with the speakers. Some presented whole projects, some just the beginning of ideas. I was glad to hear Erik talk about cloud computing and Amazon services. There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the different talks, and I heard good remarks throughout the day. Many suggested that the Lighting Talks might have set the bar too high for the rest of the presenters who had 70 minutes to fill.

The Futures of Libraries is IT was more about a study of future library leaders than it was about libraries becoming IT departments. The study was of about 240 librarians about what their ideal work environment would be like and what it actually is. (For many it was different, as you might guess.) They asked participants about what in the work environment enables them to succeed and what thwarts them. It was fascinating information, and useful for institutions thinking about succession planning and about to embark on strategic plans. The study will be written up for College and Research Libraries in 2011, though there’s a preprint available now if you’re interested. (The link is over in my blog.)

My final session was a strategic planning one. The presentation was of a research project in which the speaker looked at over 100 library strategic plans. He distilled themes (both in what’s included and what topics are addressed) from the strategic plans and found that IT had important roles in all of them.

After the sessions, there was a poster session, which Erik, Susan, and I checked out. We saw an interesting word cloud display of database subjects students are searching in real time as well as some on Facebook, online instruction, and a few techier topics.

This evening I had a taskforce meeting. That’s fairly unusual at LITA Forum (in all the time I’ve been active in LITA, I’ve never had a LITA Forum meeting before now) unless you’re on the conference committee. We met because the group was just appointed and a lot of the work we’re going to do has to happen before Midwinter. This group is the LITA Change Taskforce and our charge is to “Investigate the efficiencies of the LITA organization structure and make recommendations based on the investigation.” So, since I was able to be at LITA I was able to get the background that lead to this group, information about what the current thinking is, and assignments for our next deadline. I am hopeful we’ll be able to good things.

Other than the sessions and meetings, I’ve been able to catch up with a number of people and meet several new folks. It’s been a fun and informative conference, but the time has flown by. Tomorrow will be fairly short, but then a lot of travel. I’ll see if I can get something posted before I lose internet tomorrow! :)


Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:27 pm

Lots of stuff for day 2 of lita. I would be remiss if I did not mention the spectacular views that I saw during an early morning run :)

After the run, we started the day with David Weinberger who likes to talk about *my* favorite topic. Both Lauren and Susan have talked about David’s presentation and I don’t have much to add except to say that my favorite quote of the talk “Metadata is what you know, data is what you are looking for.”

During the day I attended a session on the Extensible Catalog ( XC is in beta now and is aiming for a Jan 2010 release. While XC has a discovery layer built in drupal, the harvesting and normalization tools that they are working on have been designed to work with multiple metadata types and systems.

The final presentation of the day focused on usability testing at the University of Illinois for Vufind. As we are currently in the midst of our Vufind service I thought that it would be a useful session. UofI has a very similar implementation as WFU (Advanced Search, Voyager implementation). CARLI (Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Illinois) has implemented for their 76 libraries who share a Voyager based I-Share catalog. 6 of those have Vufind running as their primary catalog.

The rollout for CARLI of Vufind was “experimental” and “rapid” :). they froze modifications in Oct 2008 in expectation of Vufind 1.0. Since then they have been tweaking interface & re-indexing but no major development. CARLI is unlikely to implement future versions of Vufind but may continue development that may help them work towards the XC.

One problem that CARLI solved with Vufind was to integrate the holdings of 76 libraries into a single vufind, something we have been trying to do! To do this, they added a field which was bibid plus institutional identifier.

A Day and A Half into LITA National Forum 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009 4:12 pm

David Weinberger Delivering Saturday’s Keynote Address

I learned very quickly yesterday that being a member of a conference planning committee means you are kept busy all day long and into the evening. I had volunteered to record all three keynote addresses, so I worked with Jason Griffrey, who handled the audio portion, to get my equipment all set up and going for Joan Lippincott’s opening keynote. Our new HDD camcorder worked beautifully (thank goodness). As a committee member, we each were assigned to do speaker introductions for the concurrent presentations. My first speaker was Heather Leary, from Utah State University who talked about their 9 year NSF funded project to develop “simple Internet-based tools to help school librarians and teachers better design and share classroom activities that use high-quality online learning resources, especially those housed in a digital libraries.” The site is called Instructional Architect.

I also helped organize two “lightning talk” sessions and I served as the wrangler (aka moderator, don’t ask me where the wrangler designation came from, probably having to get people on and off the stage in five minutes requires wrangling talents). The first of these was yesterday afternoon and the second took place this morning. Today, Erik gave one of the talks, and he presented about our entry into the Amazon cloud.

First thing this morning, I set up to record David Weinberger’s keynote on “Knowledge in the Age of Abundance.” He is a very good speaker offering up lots of ideas to make you think differently. It was fun to be able to chat briefly with him before his talk. The main idea he threw out today that caught my attention because it isn’t often a popular one when put in the context of student instruction was the idea of “good enough is good enough.” Good enough has different realities depending on what you are talking about. What’s “good enough” for advising a student on researching a term paper isn’t the same as “good enough” for a medical student studying brain surgery, of course. Often though, we take the position is that we always have to find the perfect resource for that undergraduate, when really, they just need enough “good enough” resources for their assignment. It is interesting to think how to adapt that idea but still do the right thing for our students.

This afternoon, I am introducing two more speakers so will report on those tomorrow. Thus far, the conference has been well run and well received. There are several vendors here who have supported this conference. The one that caught my attention is Their business is mobilizing your data and they offer subscription services to completely offer a library’s web services on a mobile devise. Since the theme of this conference is “Open and Mobile” we’ve been hearing about many great project to build a mobile presence, this vendor offers a way to do that (at a cost).

Thoughts from day 1 of LITA

Saturday, October 3, 2009 5:37 am

I flew in early Friday morning and just made it in time for the opening Keynote. Both Susan and Lauren have talked about this presentation already but I was struck with the statistics she presented from some Pew Internet Trust research. I have to admit that while I agree with the premise that libraries should deliver collections and services on mobile platforms, ‘going mobile’ includes a whole new set of technical and service issues that need to be addressed.

Lita is always a good chance to catch up with folks and today was no exception. A brief conversation with Aaron Trehub at Auburn pointed me to their soon-to-be-public Qualified Dublin Core version of vufind. Following the keynote I caught a session on how the Library of Congress is releasing Open Source Software, a session on how to secure and deploy Linux on public workstations in your library, and the tail end of Lauren’s talk on Bite Sized Repositories.

In short the LOC open source release experience documented their release of an archive specification, initial set of tools called Bagit ( Some interesting issues that came up during that process included:

  1. Questions from the legal office about the source, content, intended use, and legal history of the code being released
  2. A discussion about whether/how to form a developer community for their release – being a release manager for a community is a significant investment of time
  3. Forming an informal group of people to discuss related issues (

More to come on Saturday I am sure!

Lauren’s first day at LITA

Saturday, October 3, 2009 2:04 am

Susan did a great job of writing up yesterday! After touching down, and getting acquainted with the area, I was able to do a little work on my presentation and finished it up this morning. When I felt I had a good handle on the material, I went downstairs to the Keynote and found Susan and Erik with the video camera to record the session.

The presentation was by Joan K. Lippincott, whom I generally think is spot on, from CNI, which does good things, on “Mobile Technologies, Mobile Users: Will Libraries Mobilize?” which is a topic that is very important. The talk was a good one, and you can find detailed notes over in my blog.

I had a session I really wanted to attend after that, but also wanted to be really prepared for my talk, so I headed back up to the room to go through the whole thing one last time. The talk went well, I think. There were 20-30 folks there, and most were engaged. Some where really focused on their laptops, but when the session was over, several of the people that I assumed were occupying their time with something else came up to chat with insightful questions. I guess they were just blogging or looking at our websites. :)

If you’re interested in my talk, the slides are here. I’d be happy to chat about the concept as well:

So now, the conference is mostly about attending sessions! I have one committee meeting tomorrow evening, and that one should be fun. I’m sure I’ll have many more posts to link to tomorrow.

So far, my first LITA Forum has been a successful one. I’ve caught up with a number of folks, heard a good keynote, gave a presentation, had some great food, and had a good time rooming with Susan! I’ll post more tomorrow!

Susan at LITA National Forum, SLC

Friday, October 2, 2009 1:23 pm

Wasatch Range

This year I am a member of the LITA National Forum Planning Committee which is taking place this weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lauren (who is presenting later today) and I traveled yesterday from Raleigh (go for those cheap airline fares). We were surprised when Steve Kelley showed up on our flight. He was heading out for a NASIG Executive Board meeting in Palm Springs! So we parted ways in Dallas.

Once we arrived and got settled in, Lauren and I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little exploration. We visited the Salt Lake Mormon Temple and the Salt Lake City Public Library. Then we found the best vegetarian restaurant in town (Sage’s Cafe) and had an excellent dinner to finish off the day.

The conference starts in earnest at 1 pm today (there were two preconferences yesterday and this morning), so Lauren spent the morning polishing her presentation while I figured out the new Canon camcorder we just got for ZSR. I’m using it here to record the 3 keynote speakers. See what skill sets you can build if you go on the South Trip as their technology support?

I also will be moderating the sessions called “Lightning Talks” where attendees who want to share new technology focused projects can talk about them for 5 minutes each. I get to introduce them and work the stop watch to keep things moving. They have been very popular sessions the past few conferences since the official presentation proposals have to be submitted months ahead and technology initiatives are so time sensitive!

So look for reports on all of our activities out here in Salt Lake City, there’s plenty of interesting reports to come.

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