I thought I was done talking about this year’s Internet Librarian, but then Meredith Farkas (who I didn’t get to hang out with nearly as much as I would’ve liked to) blogged about it, and I feel the need to comment on some things she’s said.
I really do enjoy Internet Librarian, but so much of the material covered in the conference is a review for me. While I always get some insights and inspiration from the sessions, I find that I get the most value from the conversations that take place before and after the sessions.
I feel the same way. I learned about some new software apps at IL this year, but I didn’t leave feeling we’re on the cusp on much newness. It felt more like people were hammering away on the Library 2.0 basics. Which is fine, but I think I’m ready for the more advanced courses now. But between sessions, I spent a lot of time talking with my coworkers and with other conference attendees, and those conversations really felt like something special to me. (Much like when I was an undergrad, when what I talked about with my fellow students outside the classroom was generally far more inspiring and educational than what was covered in the classroom.) (Come to think of it, grad school was mostly like that, too.)
I come back to work with a recognition that Iâ€™m not alone in this, that there is a huge network of other librarians struggling to create better subject guides, better information literacy tutorials, better communication tools. The reality though is that we shouldnâ€™t need a conference to share that information.
Yes! And this is something I’m hoping to present on at some point. Conferences are expensive to go to, and not all librarians can take the time to attend them. The internet gives us the ability to network and engage in professional development 24/7. Does this make professional conferences obsolete, at least in some ways? I don’t know, but I believe it bears further thought.
It stands to reason that if the discussions are the best part of the conference for some people, then perhaps more of the conference should be dedicated to those informal conversations. Interested in subject guides? Get a group together to discuss that. Interested in Facebook and MySpace? Form a group to talk about that. People can submit what they would like to discuss and other people can sign up if theyâ€™re interested in talking about that. The person who proposed it isnâ€™t the speaker or even the facilitator; itâ€™s just a free and open discussion. Everyone is simultaneously the teacher and the learner.
This is one of the niftiest things I’ve read in a while. I’m all for looser, more free flowing conferences and gatherings.
I also would love to see conferences designed for those of us for whom Internet Librarian is a review and Code4Lib is way over our heads.
Oh boy, yes! Like I said, I’m reading for the more advanced courses. I’ve had enough theory for now. I don’t want to study blueprints, I want to start building gadgets and gizmos.
I have more to say about this, about conferences in general, but not tonight. Let me sleep on it, and I’ll get back to you later.