Blogging Computers in Libraries 2007, albeit in a slackerly and biased manner

So I'm in Arlington now. The weather is still horrible. So horrible that no one wants to go aside because they'll freeze to death. Or the wind will just push them out into traffic and they'll die that way. The howling wind actually woke me up during the night, and now it's forcing its way into my room through the heating vents. I can hear the shrieks of the people outside whose skin is being flayed right off. There's a chance of snow tonight. Tomorrow I will have to find an umbrella. And a hat. And gloves. And possibly a sealskin.

Good thing I've been to DC before and won't have this to look back on as my only visit. Last night Abby (the Abby who sometimes comments here) picked me up and drove me around to see the monuments all lit up at night, which was lovely of her. Three cheers for Abby!

And it's a good thing this conference is so great. You might not want to hear about it but I'm going to tell you anyway. Feel free to skip the bits that don't interest you.

Day 1

Opening Keynote — Web 2.0 & the Internet World
Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project

The keynote speaker was really good. Those who are interested can read the official CiL blog, which gives better notes & links. He did mention 6 hallmarks of the Web 2.0 world which should matter to libraries:

1. The Internet has become the computer. (People rarely use computers now without using the Internet.)

2. Americans are creating and sharing content online.

3. Users are accessing content created by others.

4. People are creating networks to share what they know or feel online. (Examples: tagged content, amazon reviews, blog comments)

5. Tens of thousands of people participate in peer-to-peer exchanges, open source, and grid computing.

6. People are customizing their online experiences.

He also mentioned 5 challenges as given by librarian Pam Berger

1. Navigation: moving from linear to nonlinear

2. Context: teaching people to see connections and larger pictures when much of the information they receive is in snippets

3. Focus: getting people to refrain from always being in a state of "continuous partial attention" and instead engaged in deep thinking

4. Skepticism: learning to evaluate information

5. Ethical behavior: understanding the rules of cyberspace

Rainie mentioned Dooce in passing as one of his favorite websites. He said the author "was a stewardess with Delta" and was fired for writing about work on her blog. Which, wow. You'd think if her site was one of his favorites then he would have gotten that bit right. Also, stewardess? They're called flight attendants. I refrained from raising my hand in front of 2500 people and calling out, "Actually, that's not correct. Heather B. Armstrong was a web designer in LA when she was fired." I'm sure a few people had the urge. I did whisper it to the person next to me though, because I'm just rabidly anal about being right like that.

Session 1
Library 2.0: Building Communities, Connections, & Strategies
Ken Roberts, CEO, Hamilton Public Library

I want to move to this place. He talked about building partnerships and used the example of how their library system and their City got together to create this massive website. People get on there and look up "swimming lessons" and get not only books about swimming from the library catalog but also information about swimming lessons offered through the City and swimming lessons offered by the YMCA and other community sources. So he talked about what you need in place if you're going to succeed at partnerships and what the challenges are, etc.

Also, the moderator looked so very English to me. I stared at her, trying to put my finger on what it was. I think it was her hair, and maybe her mouth. Part of it might have been that I know English people who look just like her. She got up to speak and guess what? She's from London. I totally called it.

Session 2
Pimp my Firefox
Jessamyn West, Librarian.net

Hee. This one was just all kinds of fun. Jessamyn's presentation is up here, and if you use Firefox and haven't pimped it out yet then you should really go take a look. I can't wait to work mine over & then get started on the patron computers at the library. If you don't use Firefox (Mom, Dad, you know I'm looking at you right now) then please start.

The only thing that marred the presentation was that the woman next to me was wearing some kind of sticky-sweet perfume or talcum powder. It was not a nice smell. I wish women wouldn't do that, even if they are from Eastern Europe as I later learned that this woman was.

Sesson 3
Yeah, I kind of skived off there and gave myself a long lunch. Cicada recommended Potbelly Sandwich Works so I went there. Loved the toasty bread. Didn't get the crack-filled PB & J sandwich like she told me to, but I probably should have. It isn't every day that people sneak crack into my foods. At least I don't think it's every day.

Session 4
Cool Tools & Toolkits for Webmasters
Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh
Darlene Fichter, Head, Indigenous Studies Portal, University of Saskatchewan
Frank Cervone, Assistant University Librarian for Information Technology, Northwestern University

I'm not even going to try doing links to all of these. Maybe later if I get ambitious I will. Some are for web designers (or bloggers) but others are just cool.

Yahoo! Pipes

Google My Maps
Yahoo! Design Pattern Library
The Rasterbator
Firefox Web developer/Accessibility Toolbar
Zamzar: free online file conversion
Gliffy: create flowcharts & floor plans
Firefox Linkify
Firefox Link Checker
Pixer.us: online image editor for quick fixes
Trailfire: creat Web tours & leave notes
Many Eyes
Google Webmaster Toos
Google Site Map Buider
Open Source Web Design (www.oswd.org)
Open Source Clipart (openclipart.org, freedigitalphotos.net)
Site Advisor (Firefox extension)

Session 5
Gaming & Libraries: Engaging Strategies
Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist & Strategy Guide, ALA

This one was really interesting. She said we tend to think of gamers as "teenage boys alone in the basement," but that pretty much everyone is a gamer of some kind. If you've ever played a game on your computer or on the Internet then you are one. She says we should recognize this as librarians and start offering services to attract gamers and get them coming to the library, or just to tap in to the gamers among the library's existing users. We can do this through:

Collection development
Supporting the culture of gaming
Reader's advisory--ask kids what kinds of games they play, this will tell you what stories they might like
Non-computer games--some gamers just like to compete
Open Play
Tournament Play--gets people gaming together and interacting with groups they might not normally associate with
Bibliographic Instruction--make a game out of it
Game Creation
Participation Gap
Lifelong Learning

This makes me think that we really need to do something with this at my library. And by we I mean me. Which is funny considering how little I care about video games. But we have these boys who come in every day to play on our computers and I'm sure there would be interest if we started doing some fun stuff like that.

Session 6
Was a poor choice because it did not relate to me at all and was also boring. The only exciting bit was when a woman got a call on her cell phone, answered it, and then stood by the wall with her finger in her ear to block the sound of the speakers as she carried on a conversation. Could not. Even. Believe it. Neither could the other attendees--we all just sat there stunned with wide eyes and open mouths. The people sitting near hear kept hissing "SHHHhhh!" but she paid them no mind. She eventually finished her conversation and sat back down.

Exhibitor Reception
I ate coconut prawns and other fabulous crudites. And I chatted with Tim Spalding, creator of LibraryThing. Yeah I did. Turns out they're doing this cool new thing where libraries incorporate LibraryThing into their catalogs, so when people search the catalog it shows them similar items and tags in the sidebar. It's much cooler than I made it sound just now. You can read about it here if you want.

Tomorrow I'm going to attend the Keynote and then skip the next two sessions. Don't judge me. I now know what happens when you attend sessions that are neither interesting nor relevant, namely paralysis and death and rude cell-phone-talkers. I'm going to try to get in some sightseeing if the wind doesn't prevent me from being able to walk forward. Seriously, people, this weather is Nas. Ty.


Jenny said... [reply]

Dooce was a stewardess that got fired from her job. That's awesome. Especially if he actually reads her blog.

kristen said... [reply]

I don't know what half that crap is. You should have slipped that cell phone chick a list of your "do's and dont's" of cell phone etiquette. Or thrown a brick at her.

foodie said... [reply]

THROW A BRICK AT HER!!! People do that in my w.w. meetings every Friday morning. The phone rings, they get up and move to the corner of the room and actually answer it!!! I understand if you forget to turn it off or something, but to actually answer it in a meeting...sensless retards!

foodie said... [reply]

Oh yeah...and there are signs posted politely reminding you to turn your phones off during the meetings!

April said... [reply]

I refuse to add anything more for the annoying boys who come in to play Runescape. I think they're already planning some kind of mutiny the way it is.

Make sure to take pics of your site-seeing!!

FoxyJ said... [reply]

Don't feel bad about skipping sessions for sight seeing. My professor last year actually encourage us to do that. Conferences are great, but they really can start to numb the brain after a while. And I must be a nerd because all those sessions sounded interesting to me :)

Lizardbreath McGee said... [reply]

Awesome. (Well, aside from the cell phone users and skin-flaying wind.) It will be a long, long time before I'm there, but by gum, I'll be a librarian someday and will attend wonderful conferences in notable US cities as well. (I just hope my skin can stand it.)

daltongirl said... [reply]

Did I, or did I not hear you say to me that using Explorer was okay, since the new version has addressed many of the problems that had people running to Firefox? Because if that's not accurate, I need you to say something convincing about why I should switch. So far, all I've heard is, "You're still using Explorer?!? You should totally switch to Firefox, Mom." And when I ask why, I get, "Uhhh . . . because it's cool?" And that isn't enough of a reason for me to learn a new way of Internet using. Because I don't need Firefox to make me cool. It's going to take a lot more than that.

Nemesis said... [reply]

YOU were the one who said IE was okay. I just didn't argue with you. IE 7 is good, with the tabbed browsing, and it has some add-ons & extensions but they're not as cool or as varied as Firefox's because people have been primarily creating them for Firefox while IE was working on upgrading.

Jimmy said... [reply]

I really got a lot out of this. I'm always on the lookout for anything Tech, and your article provided me with a good dose. I visited a lot of the links you posted, having never seen most of them before. (I must stop here and thank you NOW, for the link to Zamzar. Just how long does an eternal debt of gratitude last?)

I think I might have enjoyed this conference myself, because the format seemed to be so well thought-out, with expert speakers discussing things we actually care about.

I'm heading up to the other entry now.

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