Professional Development

Final Morning at LITA 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008 11:34 am

LITA goes until noon on Sunday, and since the only return direct flight to Greensboro after the close of the conference isn’t until 7:25 pm this evening (sigh), I’ll spend the time before the shuttle comes to take me to the airport to wrap up.

This morning began at a breakfast of this year’s and next year’s LITA National Forum Planning Committee. There were lively discussions about what worked this time around and what could be done better or differently next year in Salt Lake City. Everyone agreed that this has been a successful Forum, but there are always new ideas generated and feedback received from attendees that can be considered to make the next conference even better.

Poster sessions were presented this morning during the breakfast hour. Most of the topics were about projects that are familiar topics at ZSR, so it was interesting to see how other institutions had approached things like viral marketing, open source applications (see Erik’s post), Google Analytics and using as bookmarks to create virtual reference.

There was one final round of concurrent sessions, so I attended “Illogical Students: don’t Blame ‘Em, Game ‘Em,” where librarian Marsh Spiegelman and mathematics professor Richard Glass from Nassau Community College shared their combined effort to incorporate information literacy into math/computer science courses. They were doing some interesting things with blogs, wikis and Second Life. Some of their ideas are shared in their wiki.

R. David Lankes, from the Information Institute of Syracuse and professor at the School of Information Studies, gave the final keynote presentation. His topic was “Obligation of Leadership.” He talked about the mentors in his life and what they taught him that applies to our profession:

  • We can’t wait for leaders.
  • We can’t wait for change.
  • We must serve society through stewardship.

He was an inspiring speaker and was passionate as he urged the audience that “We can do better.”

Lankes believes:

  • Knowledge is created through conversation.
  • Libraries are in the Knowledge Business.
  • Therefore, libraries are in the conversation business.

He sees librarianship as a noble profession, one where our power is not in the size of our collections, or forged by the items we catalog, but in our impact on the communities and societies we serve. And this power happens through our facilitation of the conversations taking place by our patrons and our communities.

It was a good send off after 3 days of interesting programs!

Saturday: Presentation Day at LITA for Erik & Susan

Saturday, October 18, 2008 9:21 pm

Today was the day for our presentation of a case study of our facebook LIB100 class last spring. We had submitted a proposal to do this way back in December, even before the class had taken place (Caroline was a collaborator, we were sorry she couldn’t be with us, as she was an important part of the project). We were allotted 70 minutes to share our findings, so were able to provide a fairly in-depth exploration of the history of the ZSR Library Information Literacy Program, the theoretical basis for designing the class the way we did, a detailed discussion of the actual components of the course and a summary of student reactions and perceptions.

We were pleased when we had over 70 people attend the session (which immediately followed a buffet lunch) and see them stay engaged with a high level of interest in our topic.

My other big event of the day was a meeting with the 2009 LITA National Forum Planning Committee. I’ll be working with a stellar group of colleagues to put together the conference that will be held next Oct. 1-4 in Salt Lake City. This will be my first experience in this type of committee and I look forward to the involvement.

Cincinnati Skyline at Night

The day had a great ending, with Erik leading the way to Mt. Adams which he discovered early this morning on a run. It was a quaint little town high above the city with shops and restaurants and a magnificent view of the Cincinnati skyline. The little town was bustling with activity and we found an excellent Thai restaurant to dine in.

Friday at LITA in Cincinnati

Saturday, October 18, 2008 5:57 am

Condo Tower in Covington, Kentucky

An early direct flight (who knew they still exist?) landed Erik and me in Cincinnati before breakfast. The trip began with a most interesting shuttle trip from the airport where the driver (who was about 80), immediately took us off the interstate onto a scenic mountainous, winding, trecherous road that followed the Ohio River on the Kentucky side. We traveled through 5 different little river towns, and were treated to a running travelogue, complete with jokes. The conference didn’t start until after lunch, and neither of our rooms were ready, so we set off to explore the downtown Cincinnati area. We found a suspension bridge designed by the engineer who used it as a prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, an unusually shaped condominum building designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect doing the World Trade Center, and a very lovely riverfront park at Sawyer Point.

After lunch, it was down to business, however, it was a bit disorienting to be at a techie conference that doesn’t provide any wireless options, free or otherwise. For the LITA bloggers they had a table set up at the rear of the room that was hard wired!

The opening keynote, by Tim Spaulding from LibraryThing was interesting mainly because I have never used or explored it. He has taken his product to a high level social experience with social cataloging. He told the audience that LibraryThing is now larger than LOC, but allowed that LOC doesn’t have 256 different JK Rowling titles (which is a prime example of the outcome of democracy of social cataloging to me). He spent quite awhile discussing the tagging in LibraryThing. There are 41 million tags now. There are tag mirrors (which shows what tags other people have placed on the books in your catalog), Tag Mash (which combines individual tags for a most exact hit on the meaning: ie romance zombies), and a common knowledge feature that captures things a tradition catalog wouldn’t: who are the most important characters in the book).

The first concurrent session I attended was given by two women (Gretchen Gueguen and Ann Hanlon) who worked with the digitization initiatives at University of Maryland (and knew Jennifer Roper). Neither is still at UMd and one of them (Gretchen) is now at East Carolina. Their talk was “Crowdsourcing Digitization: Harnessing Workflow to Increase Ouput.” They talked about the issues they faced getting Maryland’s large scale, decentralized scanning initiatives under control. They faced many of the types of decisions that we have been faced with in our Digital Forsyth project. The “crowdsourcing” idea speaks to their decision to go with the “wisdom of crowds”, in this case that of patrons and co-wokers. Utimately, they moved to a user driven model to direct their selection of what to digitize rather than preselecting “trophy” collections to showcase. This means they are digitizing those materials that are requested by patron researchers rather than digitizing and then hoping folks will use what they digitize. Now that Gretchen has moved to East Carolina, they are doing the same approach. She showed a screenshot of Joyner’s forthcoming newest collection that contains many of the same features you see in Digital Forsyth including tag clouds and facets. It would be worthwhile to plan a field trip to exchange ideas, don’t you all think?

I joined Erik for the second concurrent session on “Reswizzling the IT Enterprise for the Next Generation” where NC State’s Maurice York talked about how they have restructured their IT operation to be more effective to their customers (over 250 staff with over 700 computers to manage, plus all the servers, services etc. you might expect from NC State). We were both tickled to hear Maurice talk about instituting Service Level Agreements, much like our WFU friends in IS are doing. I wish him luck with that one. The main value of this session for me was that it affirmed that, even on our smaller scale operation, we face the same complexities and challenges to properly serve all of our customers and manage your expectations. There were some good ideas that Erik and his group might try as more and more projects and technologies come our way!

The day ended with a “vendor showcase” reception. LITA has a very small vendor presence compared to many other conferences (maybe 6-8 tables), but there was good conversation between colleagues and roasted veggies, mashed potatoes (a strange addition to an appetizer type party) and other good food.

Today, our presentation is right after lunch, so we’ll report back this evening on how that went!

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