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! :)