Professional Development

In the 'LITA' Category...

Lauren at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:13 pm

It probably seemed like everyone was talking about linked data because that was the focus of most of the sessions I attended.

One of the more interesting ones was the Library of Congress BIBFRAME Update Forum, because in addition to Sally McCallum and Beacher Wiggins of LC, they had speakers from Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, Atlas (think ILLIAD and ARES), OCLC, and Zepheira. At this stage, I think they were all trying to reassure clients that they will keep up with change. I took more notes on Ex Libris than the others since we’re a current customer: After some prologue on revolution vs evolution, Ido Peled, VP, Solutions and Marketing, said, that moving to a native linked data catalog is more revolutionary and Ex Libris is more comfortable with evolution. But I thought he gave more concrete evidence of readiness for linked data than the others because he said ALMA was built to support MARC and Dublin Core already and that Primo Central is already in RDF format, using JSON-LD. He also emphasized the multi-tenant environment and said, “Technology isn’t the focus. The focus is outcomes.” Because linked data includes relying on the data of others and interlinking with your own data, the “multi-tenant” environment concept made sense suddenly and helped me understand why I keep hearing about groups moving to ALMA, like Orbis-Cascade. I’ve also heard from individuals that it hasn’t been easy, but when is a system migration ever easy?

I also attended “Getting Started with Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU.” They each worked on their own linked data projects, figuring out tools to use (like OpenRefine) and work flows. Then they tested on each other’s data to help them refine the tools for use with different future projects and for sharing them broadly in the library community. They both said they learned a lot and made adjustments to the tools they used. I got a much better sense of what might be involved in taking on a linked data project. Successes and issues they covered reminded me of our work on authority control and RDA enhancement: matches and near matches through an automated process, hits and non-hits against VIAF, cleaning up and normalizing data for extra spaces, punctuation, etc. In fact this session built well on “Data Clean-Up: Let’s Not Sweep it Under the Rug,” which was sponsored by the committee I’m on with Erik Mitchell, the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee. I got a good foundation regarding use of MARCedit and OpenRefine for normalizing data to eliminate spaces and punctuation. While I knew regular expressions were powerful, I finally learned what they can do. In one example, punctuation stemming from an ampersand in an organization name caused data to become parsed incorrectly, breaking apart the name of the organization every time for the thousands of times it appeared. A regular expression can overcome this problem in an automated way — there’s no need to fix each instance one by one. (Think in terms of how macros save work.)

The ALCTS President’s Program: Three Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age featured Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Reading and Language Research and John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University. It was interesting to learn from her that brains weren’t designed for reading — think about cave men and their primary goals, which didn’t include reading. She gave a great overview of the development of language and reading and incidentally showed that those who operate in CJK languages have different parts of the brain lighting up than those of us who operate in other languages. This was all foundation leading up to how the brain operates and the effects of reading on the screen. The way we read on a screen results in the loss of certain abilities like reflection and creating connections. She measured that it takes time to regain those abilities too. She isn’t by any means anti-electronic though — she’s doing interesting work in Ethiopia with kids learning by using tablets. We’ll have to get her forthcoming book when it is finished!

I also attended committee meetings, met with vendors, networked, and got to catch up with former colleagues Erik Mitchell and Lauren Pressley over a dinner that Susan organized. (Thanks, Susan!) I especially enjoyed catching up with former colleagues Charles Hillen and Ed Summers, both dating back to my days at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. Charles now works for YBP as Director of Library Technical Services and Ed just received the Kilgour Award from LITA/OCLC. Thanks to Ed, I got to meet Eric Hellman, president of the company that runs Unglue.it. And thanks to WFU Romance Languages faculty member Alan Jose, who mentioned the idea, I went Monday afternoon with Derrik and Carolyn to visit the Internet Archive offices, where we met Brewster Kahle. The volume the organization handles is mind-blowing! Kahle says they only collect about 40 TV channels right now and it is not enough. They have designed the book digitization equipment they are using (and selling it at a reasonable price too). They have people digitizing reels of films, VHS, and audio, but Kahle says they’ve got to come up with a better method than equipment using magnetic heads that are hard to find. Someone is working on improving search right now too. Some major advice offered was to learn Python!

 

Susan at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 10:58 am

Moscone Center

Moscone Center, site of ALA Annual 2015

This year’s ALA Annual conference took place in a popular destination location, on the weekend following the historic decision from the Supreme Court on the right for same-sex marriage. Add to this that it was the annual Pride parade weekend and there were close to 20,000 librarians in town and you can imagine how high the energy level was in San Francisco! I felt so fortunate that I was able to witness the thousands who came out to celebrate “Love is Love” at Sunday’s parade.

San Francisco Pride Parade

“Love Won” newspaper headline from the San Francisco Chronicle during the Pride Parade

The parade was a highlight, but the conference itself provided plenty of interesting moments as well. This past spring I was elected to a 3-year term as a Director-at-Large for LITA (Library Information and Technology Association). Although I’ve been involved with LITA for many years in a variety of roles, I will be serving on the Board for the next 3 years. So my LITA education began at this conference. I attended the board meetings as a guest and took part in an orientation session to help us new board members get up to speed. I discovered there is quite a bit of background reading to help me learn about the organization, including a manual and the bylaws. I attended LITA’s main program day on Sunday that includes the popular Top Tech Trends panel discussion and the President’s Program, which featured a conversation with Lou Rosenfeld,co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.

The top trends highlighted by the panel included

  • scalable internal connectivity (think about all those mobile devices connecting simultaneously)
  • interesting applications for RFID (example – Art Library in Switzerland that uses it for a daily inventory)
  • open source software
  • free, ubiquitous internet access in cities
  • cross-sector collaboration with purpose to improve services
  • ILS bloat
  • renaissance of podcasting
  • innovation communities founded around the library

Rosenfeld discussed his work with UX (user experience) and one of the interesting concepts that I learned about was the “short head.” We all know about the “long tail” but not so much about the short head attached to it! This term refers to the figure that is shown on the Zipf curve pictured below (comes from Zipf’s Law). The figure shows the most frequently searched terms on the left, and these make up the “short head.” Rosenfeld uses this curve to demonstrate how to use the law when tuning your website.

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

With my increased committee involvement, I didn’t have as much time to attend a variety of program sessions, but I managed to select at least one from most of my main areas of responsibility:

Digital Scholarship IG Discussion. I’m certain that Chelcie will give a more granular report for this session, but it was a good program that featured Joan Lippincott from CNI who presented Trends in digital scholarship centers: a view from CNI. She described findings from CNI’s work on trends in digital scholarship centers and her own observations from interviews and on-site visits. One of the main sources of data came from a workshop CNI conducted in April 2014 that involved 35 participants from 24 institutions and resulted in a report published in December. Also presenting were two people from NYU’s Digital Scholarship Services, which has some resemblance to what we are doing at ZSR. They don’t have a specific physical space and pull people in as needed to provide their services.

Creating Impactful Assessment Reports. This program, sponsored by LLAMA, was a panel discussion. The new dean for UNCC, Anne Cooper Moore, was joined by two librarians from Florida State University (Julia Zimmerman, Dean and University Librarian and Kirsten Kinsley, Assessment Librarian). The format of the session was for the panel to field questions relating to leveraging assessment reports to be effective tools to present to stakeholders. Julia noted that most stakeholders are busy people and long reports don’t get read, so she recommended executive summaries as key. Here are some other recommendations:

  • Use both qualitative and quantitative data to tell the narrative.
  • Individual quotes from people have impact.
  • There is a tie between assessment and marketing.
  • Data visualizations should be clear, colorful and should stand apart from the text.

An interesting discussion took place about what sort of assessment personnel different libraries have. Many have a single assessment librarian but who that person reports to is all over the map. There was an opinion from the panel that the most effective reporting line is to the library dean. There was also a consensus that having a committee in place either as a stand alone (if there isn’t a designated assessment position) or to supplement the assessment librarian is a good idea. It helps to have more eyes on the data and to get different perspectives.

Library of the Future: the Learning Optimized Library. This presentation was given by Steelcase. The speaker, Mark Walters, gave an overview on the company’s research on human behavior in libraries and provided examples of how to design for the tensions that have emerged between learning activities and space design (of course, using their furniture as the examples of solutions! Two new products that caught my interest are the Brody and the Thread). Mark is with the Education division at Steelcase, which launched in 2008. More than once he referenced an article by Scott Bennett on the changing roles of libraries that was published in 2009 (Muse title, restricted to subscribers). He described the methodology of their observational study which included time spent at 20 libraries. They have a living lab at Grand Valley State and this video shows what they’ve done there. The main thrust of their recommendations is to plan in zones with realistic adjacencies that take into account the concept of “alone together” and spanning from private to public:

Informal Learning Matrix

Informal Learning Matrix

Findings include:

  • Learning is social, but it takes many forms
  • Deep thinking requires blocking out distractions (both visual and sound)
  • Technology is ubiquitous so there are issues of infrastructure (the whole outlet thing) and ergonomics
  • Spaces have different rhythms of behavior

If any of these short narratives have caught your interest, I have more detailed notes I’ll be glad to share. As usual, I’ll close with a link to all the photos I took while I was out and about in San Francisco.

Heading to Coit Tower

View of Bay Near Coit Tower

Lauren at ALA Midwinter 2015 (aka Chicago’s 4th Biggest Blizzard)

Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:59 pm

My notes on: IPEDS, ebook STLs and video, our vendors, linked data, BIBFRAME, OCLC and Schema.org, ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee, advocacy

At the ARL Assessment Forum, there was much complaining over the contradiction in instructions with IPEDs collection counts and circulation. Susan and I had the luck of chatting in the hallway with Bob Dugan from UWF, who turned out to be the main official communicator from libraryland with the person for the library section of IPEDs. Bob is also the author of a LibGuide with clarification info from the IPEDs help desk. Bob seems hopeful that changes in definitions for gathering the info (but not the numbers/form) could happen in time for the next cycle. My main specific takeaways from the various speakers:

  • the only figures that that will be checked between the current IPEDs survey and the previous survey is total library expenditures (not just collection);
  • in spite of the language, the physical circulation part of the survey seems to focus on lending, not borrowing, and may duplicate the ILL info section;
  • some libraries are thinking to use COUNTER BR1 and BR2 reports for ebook circulation and footnote which vendors use which type (BR1 or BR2).

ALCTS Technical Services Managers in Academic Libraries Interest Group discussed a wide range of current issues and it was both reassuring and annoying that no matter the library size, public or private, right now everyone has the same problems and no great answers: high cost ebook STLs, difficulties with video, etc. I inferred that our tactic of explaining prices and the options to faculty (e.g. explaining a mediation message about an EBL ebook or that the producer of a desired video is requiring libraries to pay significantly more than the individual pricing advertised) produces greater customer satisfaction than setting broad restrictive rules to stay within budget.

Jeff, Derrik, and I had a good meeting with a domestic vendor regarding ebooks and I discussed some specific needs with a foreign vendor. All felt like we made progress.

Linked data in libraries is for real (and will eventually affect cataloging). I attended several relevant sessions and here is my distillation: LD4L and Vivo, as a part of LD4L, are the best proof-of-concept work I’ve heard about. When starting to learn about linked data, there is no simple explanation; you have to explore it and then try to wrap your brain around it. Try reading the LD4L Use Cases webpages to get an understanding of what can be achieved and try looking at slide #34 in this LD4L slideshow for a visual explanation of how this can help researchers find each other. Here’s a somewhat simple explanation of Vivo from a company that helped start it and now is the “first official DuraSpace Registered Service Provider for VIVO.” OCLC is doing a lot of groundwork for linked data, using Schema.org, and that effort plays into the work being done by LD4L. While OCLC has been using Schema.org, Library of Congress has invested in developing BIBFRAME. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper about compatibility of both models, released just before the conference. The joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee (which replaced MARBI) is naturally interested in this topic and it was discussed at the Committee meeting. The Committee also gathered input from various groups on high level guidelines (or best practices) for metadata that Erik Mitchell, a committee member, originally drafted.

I also attended the meeting of the ALCTS Advocacy Committee, which has a liaison to the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group. I understand that advocacy will be emphasized in ALA’s forthcoming strategic plan. If you’re not familiar with the Coordinating Group, it has a broader membership than just ALA division representation, but does include ACRL, LITA, and APALA in addition to ALCTS. I believe ZSR is well-represented in these groups and thus has some clear channels for advocacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALA Annual 2014 Las Vegas – Lauren

Thursday, July 3, 2014 4:08 pm

Three segments to my post: 1) Linked Data and Semantic Web, 2) Introverts at Work, and 3) Vendors and Books and Video — read just the part that interests you!

1. Linked Data and Semantic Web (or, Advances in Search and Discovery)

Steve Kelley sparked my interest in the Semantic Web and Linked Data with reports after conferences over the past few years. Now that I’ve been appointed to the joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and attended a meeting at this conference, I’ve learned more:

Google Hummingbird is a recent update to how Google searching functions, utilizing all the words in the query to provide more meaningful results instead of just word matches.

Catalogers and Tech Team take note! Work is really happening now with Linked Data. In Jason Clark’s presentation,”Schema.org in Libraries,” see the slide with links to work being done at NCSU and Duke (p. 28 of the posted PDF version).

I’m looking forward to working with Erik Mitchell and other Metadata Standards Committee members in the coming year.

2. Introverts at Work!

The current culture of working in meetings (such as brainstorming) and reaching quick decisions in groups or teams is geared towards extroverts while about 50% of the population are introverts. Introverts can be most productive and provide great solutions when given adequate time for reflection. (Extrovert and introvert were defined in the Jung and MBTI sense of energy gain/drain.) So says Jennifer Kahnweiler, the speaker for the ALCTS President’s Program and author of Quiet Influence. Another book discussing the same topic is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Many ZSRians attended this session!

3.Vendors and Books and Video

I spent a lot of time talking with vendors. Most notable was the meeting that Derrik, Jeff, and I attended with some of the publishers that are raising DDA short term loan prices. This will affect our budget, but our plan is to watch it for a bit, to develop our knowledge and determine appropriate action. It was helpful to learn more from the publishers. Some publishers are able to switch to print on demand, while others cannot because traditional print runs are cheaper than print on demand and their customers still want print. Print-driven publishers have to come up with a sustainable model to cover all of the costs, so they are experimenting with DDA pricing. DDA overall is still an experiment for publishers, while librarians already have come to think of it as being a stable and welcome method of providing resources.

Derrik and I also started conversing with Proquest about how we will manage our existing DDA program in regards to the addition of ebrary Academic Complete to NC LIVE.

“The combined bookshops of Aux Amateurs de Livres and Touzot Librarie Internationale will be called Amalivre effective July 1, 2014.”

Regarding video, Mary Beth, Jeff, Derrik and I attended a presentation by two Australian librarians from different large universities (QUT and La Trobe, with FTE in tens of thousands). They reported on their shift to streaming video with Kanopy and here are a few bullets:

  • Among drivers for change were the flipped classroom and mobile use
  • 60% of the DVD collection had less than 5 views while streaming video titles licensed through Kanopy averaged over 50 views
  • 23% and 15% (two universities) of DVDs have never been viewed once
  • 1.7 and 1.8 (two universities) times is the true cost of DVD ownership
  • They have a keyboard accessibility arrangement for the visually impaired
  • Usage is growing for PDA and non-PDA titles in Kanopy [reminds us of our experience with e-books]
  • Discovery of the streaming videos came largely through faculty embedding videos in the CMS
  • Other discovery is not good for video, so they had Proquest add a radio button option for video to Summon to help promote discovery [can we do this?]
  • They concluded that because of greater use,online video is the greater value for the money spent

 

LITA Nationa Forum 2012, Concurrent Sessions

Sunday, October 7, 2012 9:48 am

Members of the LITA Forum Planning Committee also serve as moderators for the concurrent sessions. I chose to moderate the sessions that had not been claimed by other members of the planning committee, rather than choosing based on topic. This has served me well as I’ve found myself in some great sessions I probably would not have chosen on my own! I’ve described my top three sessions below:

Persona Most Grata: Invoking the User from Data to Design; Alexa Pearce, Nadaleen Tempelman-Kluit

This presentation focused on the use of personas, an idea I’ve heard about at several conferences, but what made this presentation different was the extensive use of data to create those personas. In most examples I’ve seen, the personas represented faculty, staff, student and graduate student users, but these librarians gather data from chat transcripts and looked at users across variable such as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and research or process oriented and graphed the data along an x and y axis, then made a persona around the results of each quadrant. These personas became shorthand at the library for various types of users. The advantage being that there was data behind these personas that backed up that perspective.

Digital screenmedia: Merging technologies, unifying content, May Chang, Michael Blake

This was the surprise presentation for me. It dealt with how to manage digital information screens in your library. ECU was doing the same thing we do now, updating a Powerpoint presentation, but now they use XIBO for digital signage. It allows for a web interface, has the ability for items to expire and leave the presentation automatically, and is open source! May Chang also discussed the best practices for these types of signs, telling the group that any screen within reach of the user needs to be a touch screen and any screen that is not a touch screen needs to be up high so user are not tempted to touch. Additional suggestions included minimizing the amount of text on a screen, showing slides for only ten seconds at a time and including other informative content besides events to avoid over-commercialization.

Data-driven design decisions for discovery interfaces, Erin White

Erin is always a crowd favorite, and even though her panel of three became a presentation of one, she rose to the occasion and gave a great program on using data (such as tracking “hotspots” on the screen) to make major design decision regarding discovery systems. One side discussion that came up was release dates. They released a new interface in December, much to the horror of their users. This was due to setbacks that caused a summer release to get pushed forward multiple times. Something that occasionally unavoidable.

LITA 2012 was a very productive conference for me. In addition to serving on the planning committee, I had the opportunity to moderate and hear many great sessions and facilitate three networking dinners! All in all, a successful trip! I owe Susan Smith a big thanks for letting me serve on her planning committee! Thanks, Susan!

 

Susan at LITA National Forum

Saturday, October 6, 2012 3:12 pm

Columbus Skyline View

Columbus Skyline

As most of you are probably aware, I am the chair of this year’s LITA National Forum Planning Committee. What that has meant for me is that I’ve been working with the planning committee (and I might add, it has been a strong, effective group of people!) for over a year to put together the programming for this year’s Forum that is taking place this weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Some of you who know me also know that I have a long-time issue of “hostess anxiety” so you can imagine that I’ve been working to make sure that everything goes off smoothly and as planned! So far, so good – we are hearing positive feedback about the keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, the meeting rooms, the food (it is really good thanks to Melissa from the LITA staff), and the city of Columbus (it is really a cool town). In addition to coordinating the planning, I’m the self-appointed photographer to document the conference (no surprise there) so I invite you to see what’s happening this weekend via the Forum pictures.

Ben Shneiderman, Saturday Keynote Speaker

Ben Shneiderman

Thomas has already reported on yesterday’s opening keynote address by Eric Hellman. Today, we opened the day with a second keynote speech, delivered by Ben Shneiderman, who is a professor of computer science at University of Maryland, College Park. Many of you might recognize him as the author of the seminal book Designing the User Interface, now in its fifth edition.

Ben talked about three main themes: visual analytics, social discovery and networked communities. His talk is available on LITA’s UStream channel: Ben Shneiderman’s Keynote Speech. If you want to see the “short” recap, take a look at his presentation slides on ALA Connect. There are an abundance of interesting concepts and exciting projects that I’m looking forward to exploring when I get back home and have some quiet reflection time.

Now it’s time to get back to work moderating concurrent sessions and orchestrating network dinners!

Sunday’s ALA Midwinter Roundup from Susan

Monday, January 23, 2012 9:08 am

Top Technology Trends Discussion

Top Technology Trends Panel Discussion: Lorcan, Demsey, Sue Polanka, Marshall Breeding, Nina McHale, Stephen Abram

Sunday was a day of sessions for me with the major one being the Top Tech Trends program. But it came after a day that began at a breakfast session sponsored by Sage (where our former colleague and friend Elisabeth Leonard was the moderator). The event was a big improvement over Saturday’s Ebsco *sales* event – Sage gave us an excellent hot breakfast and then put on a panel program that addressed various issues surrounding discoverability. They did it through a lens of the “scholarly ecosystem” that includes authors, publishers, librarians, and vendors. The panelists were Joseph Esposito (Publishing Consultant), John Sack (Hirewire), Barbara Schnader (University of California, Riverside), Mary Somerville (University of Colorado, Denver), and John Law (Serials Solution). Discussions covered broad topics including “what is discoverabiity?”, “who has the biggest stake in discovery?”, “how should each segment of the ecosystem contribute to discovery?” “are there good metrics for measuring discoverability?” and “what is the cost of discovery?” As you might imagine, there were different perspectives between the panelists but the topic that really seemed to get the highest level of attention was that everyone agreed there is a great need to improve the metrics. Where vendors look at metrics to drive traffic, libraries look at them to determine value. There was consensus that currently there is great difficulty pulling together data so that it tells a story that can help with decision-making.

The bulk of Sunday morning was devoted to helping make sure that things were set for the Top Tech Trends program. The venue was in the far reaches of the convention center in the oldest section of the building (built in the 1950s). When the AV wasn’t set up right, my assignment was to find the AV people and bring them to the room. So I wandered around until I saw a guy with a cart and grabbed him. They got everything fixed so the program was only a few minutes late getting started. Giz shadowed Maurice York who set up the streaming for the event (so that he can replicate it for National Forum this fall). I took notes so that we can provide folks with brief bullet points on the trends discussed (for those who won’t have the time or inclination to watch the 90 minute video that will be archived on Ustream). Each panelist brought two trends that they presented (in two rounds). Round one trends included frictionless access (smartphone technology that provides unfettered access to services without user interaction), the advent of “enterprise IT staff” for libraries (bringing in professional programmers rather than librarians who like programming), the impending demise of the ILS, the trend toward self-service (mentioned a rack to manage iPad loans including re-imaging!), and the rise of personal institutional curation services (library created guides was an example). Round two trends were: on-demand (printing including 3D, CD-burning, a hybrid model to provide the physical experience), web analytics, reintegration of discovery with the backend systems, technologies that take instruction in a different direction (eg touch screens) and the platform wars in consumer space (a library concern with interoperability). I’ll be pulling together more in-depth (well maybe a few sentences for each topic) information for posting onto the LITA blog next week, but this will give you the idea. I thought the session was one of the most successful in recent memory. There were good trends and interesting interchanges among the panelists that made the session’s 90 minutes fly by!

Texas School Book Depository

Texas School Book Depository (now a museum)

After a good lunch visiting with a group that Elisaeth Leonard invited to lunch (thank you Sage for my second free meal of the day), Mary Beth and I took an hour and toured the JFK museum at the Texas School Book Depository. It was very moving, and brought back a flood of memories from that watershed event in America’s history. Photos weren’t allowed (you know that was tough for me!), so afterward we strolled outside where they have two X’s on the street where the shots hit and have a big ugly yellow banner sign proclaiming “grassy knoll.”

After that, it was back to the conference where I joined Roz, Giz and Mary Beth in an Information Commons discussion session. I’ll let one of them report on that, as I am talked out now and have to get ready for a full morning of LITA meetings before we head back to NC this afternoon!

Susan’s Straight Shootin’ Report #1

Saturday, January 21, 2012 5:41 pm
MB Heading to an afternoon session in the Convention Center

MB Heading to an afternoon session in the Convention Center

For me, ALA Midwinter has become mostly about committee work. I am on two LITA committees currently – Top Tech Trends (the committee is responsible for putting together the Top Tech Trends program that is held at each ALA conference) and LITA National Forum Planning Committee (I am chair of this committee this year). This means I have two business meetings this weekend and will help at the TTT program tomorrow morning. I also have become more appreciative of the great networking opportunity that the Friday evening LITA Happy Hour provides. It is a first chance to renew face-to-face connections with people you have been working with virtually the previous 6 months, and meet new faces who are interested in becoming more involved in LITA.

As Lynn reported, I also manage to rustle up (when in Texas, use Texas cliches) some sort of athletic activity. This year, ALA brought back the 5K Fun Run that I had loved years ago, but that had been on a 8-year hiatus. Lynn and Mary Beth were good sports and joined me on a 6 am shuttle bus to the race site which was held in Reverchon Park. I am sure that MB and Lynn were glad it was dark when a sprint coach led the racers in warm-up exercises because it was too dark for me to snap pictures of us as we did stretches on the cold ground! The group was small but enthusiastic and the course was a nice flat one that included a long staircase at the beginning and end (that was a first in my racing experience).

My morning meeting today was the Top Tech Trends Committee Business Meeting. There were a few members who were unable to attend Midwinter, so I had scheduled a WebEx meeting so they could be there virtually. ZSR now has a traveling WebEx kit that contains a camera, speakers and a mic and this was the first chance to test it out. Giz got it all configured earlier this week and volunteered to attend the meeting and handle the technology and facilitate the participation of the virtual attendees. It all turned out very well and I appreciate his willingness to take this on. It freed me up to take minutes for the meeting (we didn’t choose to record the meeting). We will be replicating this for our Forum Planning meeting on Monday morning.

Following an EBSCO luncheon where many ZSR colleagues showed up (and the sales speeches lasted a full hour!), Mary Beth and I headed to the Exhibit Hall to meet with Crowley, the company that sold us the Zeutchel scanners. She wanted to discuss the long promised Illiad-friendly driver and I wanted to see if they might have an appropriate book scanner for Special Collections. Then she headed off for an afternoon session (as pictured at the beginning of this post). As I write this, sipping on a Starbucks, I am building up the energy to head back in the Exhibit Hall to ferret out other scanner vendors so I can bring home some comparative products.

I’m sure I’ll have more to report tomorrow!

 

Susan’s ALA Annual Conference Report: Days 2-4

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 10:10 pm

This ALA Annual conference was a different experience for me. I am now on two LITA committees, Top Technology Trends and the 2012 LITA National Forum Planning Committee (which I am chairing). This means that much more of my conference time was scheduled to perform the duties this entails.

As a chair of a LITA committee, I found (thanks to Lauren P.) that I should attend a joint committee/IG chair meeting first thing Saturday morning. Because LITA holds its National Forum Conference annually, I also needed to attend, in addition to my planning committee, the one for this year’s conference so I can get up to speed on what’s planned for this year.

View Looking Down on the Crescent City Brewhouse Bar
View of the Crescent City Brewhouse Bar from Above

Much of the work for Top Technology Trends takes place throughout the year because it is a programming event that takes place at both Midwinter and Annual. Last year, we decided it would be a good idea to plan a social gathering with the committee and the “trendsters” so that they would be acquainted prior to coming to the podium the next day. My assignment was to find a restaurant to hold the “get acquainted” dinner and if you know me, you know I have “hostess anxiety.” This meant that I spend a long time finding a place that would be a good one: with New Orleans atmosphere but not priced in the stratosphere. I settled on the Crescent City Brewhouse which was reasonably priced, centrally located on the edge of the French Quarter and had a live jazz band! It turned out to be a nice networking evening. The actual event took place Sunday afternoon. We had a great venue this time with the session taking place in one of the main auditoriums. This time there were 5 trendsters, Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC; Clifford Lynch, CNI; Nina McHale, Univ of Colorado, Denver; Monique Sendze, Douglas Country (CO) Libraries; and Jennifer Wright, Free Library of Philadelphia. You might want to note that, for the first time, the female trendsters outnumbered the males. As Erik mentioned in his post, the trends included social reading, the death of the mouse, proximity marketing, “mashing down” print, and computational photography.

Top Technology Trends Panel

Top Technology Trends Panel at ALA Annual, New Orleans

This was the first time at ALA that I also had a presentation. I participated in the ULS/CLS Program with 9 other presenters. The format was a Pecha Kucha, a presentational framework where we had to do 20 slides for 15 (preprogrammed) seconds each for a total of a 5 minute talk. My topic was “From Department Director to Race Director.”

I have to admit that this was the most challenging presentation I have ever made. I am more of an ad-lib speaker. I like to make a broad outline and go from there, depending on what stories come to me in the moment and how the audience reacts. The Pecha Kucha format is very regimented. I had to know exactly what I wanted to say in the 15 seconds that each image projected. They even had a cow bell that they said they would ring if we went over. It was very intimidating, even for a seasoned pubic speaker. However, I survived and had positive feedback on my content.

I always enjoy attending the Alexander Street Press breakfast. This year, the speaker was Stanley Nelson, the award winning documentary filmmaker. HIs most recent film is Freedom Riders. After several minutes of audio technical snafus, he showed a ten-minute clip about the second wave of freedom riders. It was extremely moving. I was particularly drawn to the fact that he produced the documentary The Murder of Emmett Till. In both of my “south trip” experiences, the story of Emmett Till played a central part in starting to understand the complex issues of the black experience in the south.

Those of you who know me also know my belief in the importance of embracing the local culture of the places we go for conferences. This was not hard to do in a town like New Orleans. I’ve been there four times now, three of them post-Katrina. During our Monday French Quarter Neighborhood Bike Tour we learned that only 70% of the population from pre-Katrina is now there post-Katrina. The bike tour is an example of another belief I have about conferences. It is the perfect opportunity to make a different type of connection with your colleagues. Interacting with colleagues in a different setting is conducive to getting to know each other in a unique context. With 12 people attending ALA New Orleans from ZSR, there were plenty of chances to connect with each other in ways that resulted in higher understandings and appreciations of each other!

French Quarter Neighborhood Bike Tour

Excellent French Quarter Bicycle Tour

Susan’s Final Day of ALA Midwinter 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 2:00 am

This morning I completed my participation in the 2011 ALA Midwinter. Most years, I have headed home on Monday morning since my committee obligations are usually done by Sunday. However, because I am getting more involved with LITA, I needed to attend the LITA Town Hall Meeting. This is a breakfast session for LITA members to have discussions about “about how LITA responds to and involves its membership in the larger information, association, community-building, and technology-related landscape.” Last year LITA finalized its Strategic Plan and specific goals and objectives from this plan were assigned to each of LITA’s committees. At this morning’s meeting, each committee chair reported on their group’s activities and accomplishments as they related to their assigned objectives. It was the first time I’ve really heard specifics about what each committee does (which is very useful to understand). As in other years, some time was spent in breakout discussions to generate suggestions and ideas for future direction of the organization. Each table captured their discussions and the results were given to the leadership group. Learning all of this has become somewhat important as I was asked to chair the 2012 LITA National Forum Planning Committee and accepted. I need to gain a better “big picture” view of the structure and culture of LITA if I want to be successful (which I do!). To that end, following the Town Hall meeting, I met with the LITA President-Elect Colleen Cuddy to start brainstorming about potential committee members for the planning committee. I’ve served on the committee two different years, but it’s much different being a member than being the one responsible to lead the entire endeavor. It felt good to get a bit of a jump start and learn more about the time table for keeping the conference planning on track.

Hotel del Coronado

I finished up by noon, but our flight doesn’t head us home until tomorrow (and I am crossing my fingers that all goes smoothly!). So this afternoon, we took advantage of the weather and the fact that I’m a strong believer in the educational benefit of travel to new places. We hopped a water taxi and headed over to Coronado, which is on the ocean side of San Diego Bay. Once we arrived, we walked over a mile to the ocean side to visit Hotel del Coronado, which was built in 1888. At that time it was the largest resort hotel in the world, and the first to use electricity (Wikipedia). It was the location used in Marilyn Monroe’s movie “Some Like it Hot.” It was a perfect afternoon and a wonderful way to recharge in anticipation of a grueling travel day tomorrow :-)


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