Monday, November 20, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006: Part 2

Hi everyone! Here is the second half of my notes from Internet Librarian 2006, which I attended last month in Monterey, CA. Again, if you'd like more information on what I learned, feel free to drop me a line at Thanks!


October 24: Conference Day 2

KEYNOTE — Challenges of Cyberinfrastructure & Choices for Libraries
Clifford Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information

This session was geared more toward research institutions in general and science libraries in particular, but it gave a good overview of the issues involved in capturing and making accessible the large amounts of data created by institutional researchers, both in institutional repositories and in pooled databases operated by consortia of libraries and/or professional organizations in the fields involved.

Determining and Communicating Value
Joe Matthews, Author, The Bottom Line: Determining and Communicating Value

This presentation focused on developing strategies for communicating the library’s value to the organization’s decision makers in an effective manner. Most of this presentation seemed fairly common sense to me, namely having “elevator speeches” hitting key messages you want to impart, determine your value to the organization in hard numbers, and be able to communicate the ways libraries add value in language that finance officers and other key stakeholders will understand. However, this was a good primer for library managers.

Repository Essentials: From Soup to Nuts
Roy Tennant, University of California, Berkeley

After the keynote this morning, I was interested in learning more about using institutional repository technology to capture our faculty’s scholarly output in-house, enabling free access to our community and others. Roy Tennant gave a great overview of the technology, policy, and procedures involved in setting up a digital repository. Doing a depository the right way is much more involved than I expected, but could be a good service to consider offering a few years down the road.

MySpace & Facebook
Aaron Schmidt, Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Cliff Landis, Valdosta State Library

This was a good introduction to these two very popular social networking sites, and a discussion of creating library accounts on them that could be used both for general marketing and for reference.

The RSS & JavaScript Cookbook: Creating One Stop
Meredith Farkas, Norwich University
Paul R. Pival, Distance Education Librarian, University of Calgary

This presentation gave me some good ideas for RSS feeds in the library beyond simply a feed to a library blog. Feeds can be published on out homepage, enabling us to have a constantly updated “top news” section from places like CNN, Chronicle of Higher ed, etc. I also didn’t know there were tools that could combine feeds or create feeds for sits where none existed. Once again, they got fairly deeply into the technical minutia, but I can give more detail to anyone who’s interested.

Scholarship in Chaos! Flying High on the Web? or in Free Fall?
Organized by Barbara Quint, Editor, Searcher Magazine
Moderated by Rich Wiggins, Michigan State University
Anurag Acharya, Engineer, Google; Jay Girotto, Microsoft; Joris van Rossum, Head of Elsevier Scirus

Take officials from Microsoft, Google, and Elsevier, add 300 skeptical librarians, mix well, add a dash of alcohol at the pre-forum dine-arounds and you have this forum. While I did learn some about each of these companies’ attitudes and products (and was inclined to give google, at least, a bit more benefit of the doubt after this session), most of the forum consisted of Librarians and the 3 techie panelists pronouncing stock platitudes over each other’s heads, showing that the librarians, at least, had no interest in learning more about these search companies’ point of view and in forging new connections between librarianship and search providers. The evening felt a lot like a wasted opportunity.

October 24: Conference Day 3

Web Presence for Internet Librarians
Shari Thurow, Webmaster & Marketing Director, Grantastic Designs Inc., & Author, Search Engine Visibility

This was easily my favorite of the 3 morning keynotes. Shari talked about designing websites with an eye toward search engine visibility, while also keeping them user-friendly. I learned some tips about how search engine algorithms work, and there were many examples of good and bad site designs.

Wikis for Libraries
Meredith Farkas, Norwich University
Nicole Engard, Web Manager, Jenkins Law Library
Mary Carmen Chimato, Head, Access Services, &
Darren Chase, Informatics Librarian, Health Sciences Center Library, Stony Brook University
Marianne Kruppa, St. Joseph County Public Library
Chad Boeninger, Ohio University Libraries

I attended the first half of this two-part panel, which discussed Wiki platforms and various implementations of the technology. One implementation that hadn’t occurred to me that might solve some of our file-sharing problems was of a wiki as a intranet, with abilities for discussion threads/blogs, file storage and editing capabilities, and other handy functionalities.

Training Tutorial Tour & Tips: Greg Notess, Montana State University Library

One of my favorite sessions from the whole conference, this was a freeform debate over the benefits and drawbacks of various academic library tutorials, including one based on the TILT/Searchpath platform we considered implementing a while back. I am becoming less enamored with the searchpath platform, and wonder if we would be better served by creating multiple smaller tutorials geared specifically toward walking a student through a task (how to find a book, reserving something on ILL, etc.).

Comparing Book Search Engines
Greg Notess, Publisher,

I enjoyed Greg’s presentation on tutorials so much that I followed him after lunch to his next session, this time on book search engines. While I am quite familiar with Amazon’s tools, and have used Google Book Search once or twice, I found this seminar very useful in explaining Google’s fancier book search tools. For those who are concerned, I learned that it is impossible to read more than a few snippets of books that are still in copyright or are of unknown copyright status unless arrangements have been made with a publisher, and from the examples Greg gave, Google appears to be erring on the side of protecting copyrighted content. I still am not convinced that we’ve reached “the age of the e-book”, but we seem to be heading in that direction to some extent.

Blogging Update: Applications & Tips
Aaron Schmidt, Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Walter Nelson, Webmaster, RAND Corporation
Karen Coombs, Head, Libraries Web Services, University of Houston

This seminar was in a similar vein to the wiki session earlier that morning, and covered much of the same ground. However, Michael suggested that blogging technology can be used as a means to quickly update information across multiple websites (such as adding a new staff member to a address list or updating links). This process is a little technical and involved but I have more detailed notes if anyone is interested.

Social Computing, Gaming, & the Info Pro
Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Director, Rochester Institute of Technology, Lab for Social Computing, & Visiting Researcher, Microsoft Corp.

This closing keynote was much better than I expected, as I have been somewhat dubious about the value of virtual worlds such as Second Life for academic librarianship. However, Elizabeth’s presentation at least partially converted me. Elizabeth is a Ph.D researcher and professor in Information studies who is also a level 60 Troll Sorceress on World of Warcraft, and plays with a “guild” of other Information scholars. While I don’t think that the typical librarian needs to spend work time roaming around these worlds fighting Orcs and waiting for reference questions, Elizabeth made a powerful argument for the value of games in general as learning tools. Perhaps most libraries aren’t ready to put in time on the reference desk at the Second Life Library (yes, there is really such a place), but why not create tutorials in a game format? Turn library instruction tours into scavenger hunts? Let students compete to find the most reliable websites? We can make our library instruction so much more than one of us sitting at the computer lecturing at half-asleep students while we search the databases. Gaming could be an interesting way to spice things up, and build stronger social connections between students (and between students and the library staff) in the process.

Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a wonderful conference, and one of the best networking and educational experiences I have ever had. The internet, even more than it already is, is the future of librarianship, and by strategically implementing new technologies, especially, blogs, wikis, mashups/api widgets, and gaming, we can better serve our diverse and increasingly wired student body in the coming years.

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