Professional Development

Susan’s Sunday at ALA Midwinter

Monday, January 26, 2009 8:48 am

Denver's 16th Street at Night
A Cold Denver Night Scene

Sunday was a day full of meetings, presentations and networking for me that ran from 7:30 am to 11:00 pm (way past my usual bedtime!). Neither of my committees met, so I had the flexibility to pick and choose how to structure my day. The day was cold with snow flurries, which added a wintery dimension moving from location to location.

Last ALA, Lauren P. introduced me to the Alexander Street Press customer appreciation breakfast. Not only do they provide a good substantial meal, they also bring in an excellent speaker. It’s a popular function and this time there were about 550 attendees. The speaker was Pulitzer prize winner Art Spiegelman, a comic artist best known for his graphic novel Maus. In his talk, he was very passionate in advocating for the medium of comics as one that gives a full texture of experience. I am a unabashed daily comics reader, but have never really studied the art of comics. After listening to Mr Spiegelman talk about his art, I think I have found a new interest to dig into.

At ALA, there are always competing events, and LITA’s “Top Technology Trends” meeting began during the breakfast time slot. But Lauren and I were able to arrive in time to hear the final hour, which was when the panelists share their pick for the current top trends. I’m sure Lauren will give us a full report on the meeting, so I’ll leave the details for her! The technologies they used to chronicle the meeting was the most advanced to date, including a live blog.

Afterward, I met with my ALA Editions editor for preliminary discussion on perhaps doing a 3rd edition of my book (seems promising). I ran into our former colleague Emily Stambaugh and had an early lunch while we caught up on what we’ve been up to since she went west (4 years ago, how time flies). She’s now at the California Digital Library managing their shared print program.

For my afternoon session, I chose a discussion event: “Teaching 2.0: What are the Pedagogical Implications of Social Technologies?” It must be a hot topic, as over 200 people showed up to a room sized for about half that many. Each table discussed how 2.0 technologies inform our teaching in the framework of David Wiley’s changes in the world that compare then/now: analog-print/digital; closed/open; tethered/mobile; isolated/connected; generic/personal; consumption/participation. We concentrated on four “teaching 2.0″ qualities: openess, connectivity, personalization and participation. After talking and sharing, I came away with a good feeling about what we are doing with our IL program at ZSR. We seem to be ahead of the curve compared to other programs because of our instructors’ enthusiasm for exploring ways to incorporate active learning and participatory pedagogy with the 2.0 technologies.

I wrapped my day up with a series of social/networking events, a departure from my usual “one evening function” approach. I attended a reunion of Harvard Leadership Institute alumni which was hosted by ACRL. Then I headed out in the COLD night air (single digit) to meet Bill for dinner and good conversation. My final destination (again through the cold) was to an Elsevier reception where Lauren C. introduced me to many of her friends and colleagues from her ALA work and Emory days.

This morning I’ll wrap up my conference with one last meeting, then head off to the airport for the long trip home. All-in-all, I vote this a successful conference experience.

Susan at ALA Midwinter: Day 2

Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:08 pm

Denver's Big Blue Bear
Lawrence Argent’s “I See What You Mean,” at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

This year I am on two committees and both met today. The first one started at 8 am, which wasn’t a problem since the 2 hours time difference had me wide awake by 4 am (MST). This was my new committee, LLAMA’s BES LIFE (Library Interiors, Furnishings and Equipment). The group of people on the committee seem very knowledgeable about renovations and repurposing of space. A few of the members are architects. (One of the other new members is a new colleague from UNCG, Mike Crumpton, who is working with our folks on the Entrepreneurial Conference. He had color flyers that he distributed). The major goal of this group is planning programming on LIFE topics for ALA Annual. There are three programs set for this summer in Chicago. But it isn’t simply a matter of deciding what program to do. The committee chair must present the program proposals to other ALA Conference Planning groups for approval a year in advance. So, we spent most of the morning brainstorming for ideas of programs to develop for ALA Annual in 2010. These will need to be formulated by this June for initial program proposal. I found it to be very fascinating to learn about the very formal process involved in putting together programs for ALA conferences.

After this initial meeting, I headed for the exhibits, where I looked up Bill at the Alibris booth. He and I concurred that it seems that attendance is down this time around. Then I ran into Elisabeth Leonard, and we caught up over coffee.

The early afternoon session I chose to attend was an Elsevier sponsored symposium on “New Gen Librarians: Who are They & What Do They Want?” The panelists were two fairly “new” librarians, a second-year library school student and Gary Strong, UCLA University Librarian. After each talked about their “story” for 5-10 minutes each, the audience held group discussions to come up with questions to pose to the panel. The questions covered such things as today’s library school curriculum and whether it prepares new librarians for the job market, the issues in management style for different generations of professionals, and how current practitioners can effectively recruit new librarians into our profession. Wanda also attended and asked a good question about how administrators can participate in the education process so that new graduates bring the skills that we need to the job. It was an interesting discussion that demonstrated to me that new and seasoned librarians aren’t actually on opposite ends of the spectrum in regard to their expectations and goals.

My second committee meeting was in the late afternoon. This is the LITA National Forum 2009 Planning Committee. With the conference scheduled for this fall, there is already a great deal accomplished and even more to be done.The committee has been making good progress through virtual means, but it was very helpful to have a face-to-face meeting to go over details and organize assignments for all the things that remain to be decided. The conference will be in Salt Lake City.

Susan at ALA Midwinter in Denver: Day1

Saturday, January 24, 2009 12:12 am

Today has been a long one, full of travel, a symposium, a happy hour and a lovely dinner. It’s time for ALA Midwinter once again. This time it’s being held in Denver, one of my favorite cities to visit. The day started with an early flight, designed to get me here in time to attend a symposium in the afternoon. It didn’t get off to a good start when I checked in my baggage (a $15 charge now), only to find out it was ONE LB. overweight. I either could pay a $50 surcharge OR remove a pound of stuff from the bag. So I removed one running shoe and had to carry it in my backpack all day. Is this what travel has come to?… Then the flight was delayed due to a fog delay in Atlanta, so I had to rush to catch my connection to Denver. But the flights were smooth, and even with the delay, I arrived at my downtown hotel by noon. By coincidence, I am in the same hotel that I stayed in at LITA 2007. It’s not the “conference hotel” but it’s convenient to the convention center and some sessions are being held here.

While I’m talking about coincidences…..When I arrived at PTI this morning, I discovered that Lauren C. was traveling on the same flights as I was. Lauren was kind enough to include me (and Sarah J.) in a dinner this evening with our Elsevier reps. As we headed out at the end of dinner, we discovered we are staying at the same hotel (keep in mind there are 14 different hotels you could be assigned to). As we arrived at the hotel, we discovered we are both on the 4th floor (there are 17 or 18 floors). As we got off the elevator, we discovered that we are two doors away from each other…….Small ALA world!

My main event for this first day was the OCLC Symposium that was held this afternoon. It was titled “From Linking to Thinking: How we’ll Live When Information Surrounds Us.” There were two dynamic speakers: David Weinberger (author of Everything is Miscellaneous) and Nova Spivack, CEO and founder of Radar Networks (which runs Twine.com) and Semantic Web pioneer. Themes included the evolution of the web to one of inconnections that result in an abundance of digitized data, the nature of metadata, the democratization of the Web, the move toward “good enough” data, the future (Web 3.0 (Semantic Web) and 4.0 (Intelligent Web)). It was a fascinating discussion which garnered spirited discussion between the speakers and the audience on the value of libraries and librarians in light of both Weinberger’s and Spivack’s vision that their preferred future will be one where everything will be digitized, freely available and will be easily accessible to everyone through technologies that will remove today’s search barriers through automated solutions. It was one of the most engaging sessions I’ve attended at ALA and was timely as they also discussed many of the technologies cited in the just released 2009 Horizon Report.

Following the symposium, I put on my social face and attended the LITA Happy Hour, followed by the dinner I mentioned earlier.

Tomorrow will start early with a meeting of my new committee assignment (to LLAMA’s BES Interiors, Furnishings and Equipment Committee. I can’t wait as yet I have no idea about what this committee’s charge is as it relates to any deliverables.


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