October 28, 2011

Internet Librarian: Day 1

Last week was the annual Internet Librarian conference in Monterey, a marvelous conference and one of my favorites. (One of these days I have to go to a Computers in Libraries so I can compare them...) Now that a week has passed I want to get my thoughts down, and share a summary of the sessions I attended.

I arrived Sunday afternoon to sunshine and sparkling waters, and only got lost once on the way to my room at the Hotel Pacific (awesome place, I highly recommend it). I had a delicious dinner with a friend (hi Donna!) at the Old Fisherman's Grotto then settled in back at my room to get in gear for the conference.

Monday kicked off with a very thought-provoking keynote session by John Seely Brown (JSB), who talked about how learning has and is changing, and what impact it'll have for all of us. He said we're moving away from an "I think therefore I am" paradigm and into "We participate, therefore we are" - made me think a lot about not only how I do things differently now than ten years ago, but how my son is learning in a completely different way in school than I did. Play has become more and more important - not just play for fun and relaxation, but as a very real way of learning. I see the truth of that in how I learn new tools and then show them to my staff, and I see it every week in my son's schoolwork. Another thing JSB said is that life skill sets are also greatly changing - what once was a skill set that could take you through the next 30-40 years of your professional life now will take you through no more than 5. (That tidbit just about blew my mind, but it rang true when I thought back on my own career.) "Play is key!" Play with your framing of the world, in all aspects of your life. Think about the emerging "Networks of Imagination" - think about Harry Potter, or World of Warcraft, and what kind of collaborative world-building is happening there. Bonus! InfoToday taped his talk, and you can watch it online.

After that, I grabbed a cup of coffee with my mentor (hi Stephen!) and chatted for a bit, then headed into the "Super Searchers" session with Mary Ellen Bates. I always learn a new thing to try in her sessions; this one was focused on how different search engines - and sometimes the same search engines - return different results on the same query, because of location-targeted results (whether you asked for them or not). She also stressed the importance of fighting the monoculture - use different search engines and multiple tools. The new things I'll be trying out of this session are Google Public Data Explorer and http://blekko.com/ - take a look! (I am definitely going to play around with Blekko some more.)

I took a break to get some work done before meeting my co-presenter for lunch to review our session on Tuesday. Peter B's Brewpub has some tasty salads!

Monday afternoon was about clouds and CMSs - I went to "Using the Cloud to Power Library Sites and Services" and enjoyed hearing how the Vancouver Public Library had implemented this. One thing I didn't know is that their hosting solutions were limited since not all countries (and Canada is one of them) allow private data (such as patron information) hosted on servers outside the country - i.e. the cloud. VPL was very limited in their options because of this.  Miami University folks talked about Libguide usability testing, as well. A good discussion option for these kinds of things is "We can't build this for ourselves for $X, but look what this hosted service can do for that…"

I then stuck around for the "CMS Smackdown - Drupal vs. Wordpress vs. Joomla" - I was probably not the target audience for this session, having gone through this myself a few years ago in choosing our CMS, but it was a lively and entertaining session. Poor Joomla, hardly anyone in the room was using it so it seemed a kind of wallflower CMS -

After that I was off to the Grand Opening Reception and ITI Book Signing Event - I sold some more books, woo hoo! I also had fun chatting with Lori Bell and David Lee King, and the Shanachies are always fun to hang out with. When that wound down I headed off to a planning session for the Tuesday night Face-off event…. and that's enough said about that for now!

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