Professional Development

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!

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!

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! :)

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).

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!

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