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Two Weeks, Four Conferences

A long-overdue post about the best of the best from Connecticut Trendspotting, NISO Discovery, a Kent Campus visit, and Computers in Libraries. (I have since attended IA Summit and Florida Library Association…more about them later!)

Quick Takeaways:

Complimentary Slippers

Clearest tech trends rippling through the presentationsphere: mobile interfaces, intelligent folksonomies, open source

Favorite presentation: Helene Blowers, Computers in Libraries, “Innovation Starts With I

Most significant ah-hah moments: grasping the implications of FRBR; hearing Blowers talk about how to strategically “sell” innovation in a library organization

Best casual conversations: John Ockerbloom & Peter Murray (FRBR and system design); Alane Wilson and Cliff Landis (benefits of 2.0); John Blyberg (SOPAC)

Best late-night rant at the hotel bar: Marshall Breeding and Roy Tennant (I would tell you all about it except it was a rant)

Best conference trend: “Lessig”-style PowerPoints– heavy on graphics, light on bullets, plain backgrounds, kewl fonts

Social Software du Jour: “Tweeting” (using Twitter) to microblog conference presentations

Noticeable travel trends: fewer flights, more airports with free wifi

Best meal: Allen & Sons Barbecue, Chapel Hill, NC

Best tourist side-trip: A Southern Season (cookware store), Chapel Hill

Best travel moment: finding a pair of courtesy slippers in my room in the Holiday Inn Crystal City (even if they were more like skis for me)

Say Whatta?

Computers in Libraries 2008 featured a “Pecha Kucha” (peh-chak-cha, more or less) — a fast-paced session with six presenters, each allowed 20 slides to address a topic (such as podcasting) and a theme (such as creating content), and 20 seconds to display each slide.

Many CiL presenters at Pecha Kucha and elsewhere used the “Lawrence Lessig” presentation style I began using in my own talks after attending Defrag last fall and watching Dick Hardt from Sxip do his thang -a move away from page after page of PowerPoint bullets on Microsoft-generated backgrounds toward image-heavy screen shots and graphics and single-word slides. In addition to being visually pleasing, this style of presentation makes the presenter look in command of her topic.

I Iz Somebody

Helene Blowers did such a fabulous job at Cil2008 with “Innovation Starts with I” that I really hope she gets tapped to present in these parts. The wifi worked well in that room and I heavily Twittered her main points. Some key points:

  • Creativity is about ideas. Innovation is about doing new things. (Theodore Levitt’s distinction)
  • Workers are responsible for doing the initial legwork and tying new ideas into the MVV – Mission, Vision, Values
  • Sell your vision personally
  • Managers are responsible for creating an environment where mistakes are welcome and even encouraged

Social Skills

SOPAC is the Social OPAC – software John wrote last year, when he was at Ann Arbor District Library. I learned all about it at Connecticut Trendspotting, a one-day conference in Hartford, focused on open source… not in the morning’s talks, but that afternoon, when I had a long discussion with John Blyberg and Kate Sheehan of Darien Library about SOPAC version 2. It’s their beans to spill, but I look forward to hearing more about SOPAC.

Watch out, it’s a Brontosaurus in the 500s

Borders Concept StoreKate Sheehan, new head of public services at Darien, had been the innovator who had led the first implementation of Librarything for Libraries. Kate told me that when she saw the video for the Borders Concept Store she said to herself that they must have read her mind, because this is the design, more or less, for public services at Darien, which is building a new library right now-a place not only for traditional library services but also a place where patrons can mix/remix/download/create. She plans on having mixing stations and “knowledge glades.”

You Give Me FRBR

NISO Discovery and FRBR. NISO had a two-day conference in Chapel Hill about next-generation discovery tools.

For me, the “discovery” for that trip happened on the flight to Raleigh, when I read Robert Max

Miss Peggy Lee

well’s FRBR: A Guide for the Perplexed, and through this short, clear book I really “got” FRBR-strengths, weaknesses, implications for system design–and then at the conference I went out to dinner with John Mark Ockerbloom, a PhD in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon and active participant in the Digital Library Federation, and we talked about developments in library software. (We were joined by Peter Murray, who did a nice job of summarizing many open source library projects related to opacs and ILS’s; see

This discussion with John prompted me to download and read the DLF ILS and Discovery Systems Draft Recommendation ( ) which has been discussed at some recent conferences.

The Whiteboard of Your Dreams

The day before I taught a writing workshop at NEFLIN in March, I visited with Billy Thomas, director of Learning Services at Kent Campus. Wow! Billy has some amazing ideas. He walked me around the library and talked about something that sounded very similar to Kate Sheehan’s “knowledge glades.” We also talked about alternatives to library classification, student work/meeting areas, etc. In one area he plans to make the walls giant whiteboards, and comments that students do this already with paper-they then take pictures of their work and upload them.

Library Spin the Bottle

In their Computers in Libraries co-session, Michael Stephens and Michael Casey had slide shots of librarians playing “library spin the bottle”–not a kissing contest, but a brainstorming exercise. Spin the bottle, share an idea! (Update: Michael Casey just wrote me to say it was a slide from the presentation of the “Dutch guys”) — thanks for the clarification!)

You Wish You Were Amazon

Cindi Trainor’s talk at Computers in Libraries (part of a two-session, four-speaker series I emceed) compared four popular websites (Amazon, Pandora, Flickr, and Wikipedia) with library software, using a scale she had developed that measured a number of quality variables. The top score was a possible 32 points. Here’s how four products stacked up:

  • Encore: 10
  • Libraryfind: 12
  • Scriblio: 14
  • WorldCat Local: 16

Cindi will have more data up later this month, after she finishes a round of speaking engagements.

Other speakers included Kate Sheehan, now of Darien Library, who demoed LibraryThing for Libraries and showed how at some sites OPAC users could now add reviews into LibraryThing; Roy Tennant, who did a walk-through of open source ILS software such as VuFind, Blacklight, and LibraryFind; and John Blyberg, who got all mystical and theoretical in a great way about data architecture.

From Tool to Benefit

Among the many good hallway conversations and gabfests I had, in one we talked about the recent “social software” classes, such as the popular model 23 Things, and how these classes (however useful they are) miss an opportunity to educate librarians about the benefits of social software. Maybe that’s something we could address here at CCLA-perhaps hosting a regional unconference on how to tie in social software with your MVV?

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