Internet Librarian: The Wrap-Up

Ah, good ol’ Kansas! It’s cold, gray and rainy, just like October should be. The perfect weather to reflect upon my first professional, out of state, big-time conference.

Not counting the keynote speech from J.A. Jance (which was interesting, funny and surreal), I started the conference off listening to Paul Miller from Talis talk about Library 2.0. This was one of the best sessions I went to. Not only does Paul have a great sense of humor (or “humour” as he would no doubt spell it), his talk got me absolutely feverish with ideas about where libraries could go and where they should go. Paul inspired me right out of the gate, and I’m still inspired.

Sarah Houghton-Jan‘s session on reaching patrons online was another one of the best. She gave 20 free, easy ways for libraries to reach out to patrons online. (She also gave a caveat: if you do this, you’ll be reaching out to more than just your local patrons; you’ll be reaching out to the world. If you don’t want everyone’s patrons becoming your patrons, don’t reach out online.) Solid, practical tips that I could take back to my library.

Meredith Farkas and Paul Pival presented another of my favorite sessions, “The RSS and JavaScript Cookbook.” They skipped the typical Powerpoint slides in favor of using a wiki as slides. Brilliant! And they gave specific tools I could show my coworkers, including live demonstrations of how to use the tools. Great stuff.

Steven M. Cohen gave a funny and informative presentation, perfect for the last afternoon of the conference (when everyone was getting tired and brain-numb…or maybe that was just me): “What’s Hot and New With Social Software.” Steven sauntered through a list of social software tools, from A-Z. Sadly, I didn’t win one of the Starbucks cards he was handing out as prizes (for guessing what social software tool he was going to talk about next). But I did learn about some websites and Firefox extensions I wasn’t all that familiar with before.

Michael Porter and Michael Sauers presented on “Flickr and Libraries” and gave an entertaining, informative and eye-opening session. I was astounded and awed to learn about PictureAustralia: the National Library of Australia is using Flickr (mashing it up with Dublin Core) to create a massive collection of pictures of Australia. (And I just learned this morning that Michael Sauers has been offered real money for one of his pictures on Flickr!)

Other really good sessions I attended: “Web-Based Experience Planning: Creating User-Centered Experience” with David Lee King, “Cultivating Tech-Savvy Library Staff: Competencies & Tips” with David King and Sarah Houghton-Jan, “MySpace & Facebook” with Aaron Schmidt and Cliff Landis, “Podcasting & Videocasting” with Greg Schwartz, Sean Cordes, Jeff Humphrey, David Free and David King, “Wikis for Libraries” with Nicole Engard, Darren Chase, Marianne Kruppa and Chad Boeninger, and “Blogging Update: Applications & Tips” with Walter Nelson, Karen Coombs and Aaron Schmidt.

There were really only two sessions that I didn’t get much out of. The session of the Second Life Library was interesting (and hilarious when Lori Bell repeatedly brought up “sex and gambling in Second Life,” and fellow panelist Michael Sauers banged his head on the table each time she did), but there wasn’t much information I can put to use in my career. (I was really excited to get involved with the Second Life Library when it was first getting set up, but I have enough going on in my first life that I just don’t have time to commit to Second Life.) The session on “Bottom-Up Web Redesign” was interesting (and we got candy!), but it was entirely focused on academic libraries, and there wasn’t as much useful content as I was hoping for (although I like the idea of “affinity mapping,” where you get staff and patrons to make a visual map of the subjects and categories they think should be on a website).

Overall, it was a great conference to attend and a great experience. I finally got to hang out with people I’ve previously only admired (and talked with) from afar.

And what general ideas have I come away with?

All library users are becoming increasingly wired, and libraries need to reach out to where the users are. We should push the library everywhere, engage people with real (and potential) services, get information to the users (not get users to the information). We should promote the library as an experience that users want to have. And we need to empower both library staff and library users. Now, I knew all of this before I went to IL, but it’s good to get hot under the collar about it all over again, with some practical ways to implement it to boot. This was time and money well-spent, and I really really hope I get to go again next year.

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Internet Librarian: Coming Down

I’m getting ready to check out of my motel and head off to the airport. My time here in Monterey has been fantastic. So many good conference sessions, so many good conversations, so many interesting and enthusiastic and clever people met.

I changed my page on the IL2006 wiki to show what sessions I attended at the conference.

Farewell, Monterey. I hope to be back again next year.

Internet Librarian: The Skinny

My time here at Internet Librarian has been toetappingly fantastic. My head is all a’buzz with theories and practical things to do. Rather than long posts trying to sum everything up, I’ll be making shorter posts about the stuff I’ve heard and done and been thinking about.

EDIT: Okay, so I changed my mind and wrote a long post trying to sum everything up.

Internet Librarian: In Trance as Mission

Getting up at 5 in the morning to drive across the Greater Kansas City Metro Area to the airport is about as much fun as it sounds. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Liz, erstwhile NEKLS techie, was on the same flight as me, so I now had a travel buddy. Travelling is always better with a travel buddy.The security routine at airports has definitely taken a turn for the bizarre. Jackets off and into a grey plastic tub, pockets emptied and into the tub, shoes off and into the tub, laptop out of its carrying case and into a different tub. And that’s not even mentioning the “no liquids and gels” (“unless purchased in the sterile zone”) rule. But we all grin and bear it, because otherwise the terrorists win, right?

I got a cup of coffee on the flight to Salt Lake City. It was very much like putting gasoline in a car, in that it gave me the energy I wanted, but smelled and tasted horrible. In fact, the smell and taste were very much like something you’d put in a car. It was the worst beverage that someone dared call coffee I’ve ever had, and that includes the time I drank the coffee at Burger King. Along with the coffee came some tiny cinnamon graham crackers in the shape of an airplane (just in case you’d forgotten how you were travelling). As dry as they were, though, they weren’t nearly dry enough to make me want to drink the coffee. And yet, I soldiered on like a good boy and drained the cup.

The landscape you see as you fly into Salt City Lake is jawdroppingly astounding. If you knew someone who’d made a miniature landscape like that in their basement, you’d think they were the Michelangelo of topography. The Salt Lake City airport isn’t nearly as impressive. The walkways and gates to and from the jets look like they were made from Erector sets. The airport has wifi, but you have to register and pay $10 to use it. I decided my $10 would be better spent on something that would get the taste of the airline’s “coffee” out of my mouth.

The airline overbooked the flight from Salt Lake City to Monterey. I truly don’t understand why airlines do this. It makes the passengers cranky, and the airline ends up offering fairly substantially priced vouchers to get someone to take a different flight. Despite the generous offer, no one on my flight was willing to take a later flight. The airline staff threatened to pick someone at random and make them take a later flight. The first person they picked quietly but sternly told them no way. They picked a different passenger, who also refused to be bumped. The airline staff began to look desperate. Finally, one passenger stepped forward and agreed to take a later flight. By that point, the staff were in no mood to have us board in a regimented,orderly fashion. Instead, they just let us all rush up, present our boarding passes, and troop off to our plane.

If the SLC airport seemed somewhat makeshift, the Monterey airport looks like the local high school theater department set up a mock airport. It’s positively adorable in its dinkiness. But as I stepped off the plane and walked across the tarmac in the sunshine and sea air, I thought to myself, “I don’t care if the airport is a tool shed and a Port-a-John, I’m just happy to be here.”

And so I am. Happy to be here.