Sunday, April 3, 2011

Computers in Libraries 2011: scattered notes

CiL is one of my most anticipated conferences each year. This year was, I think, my 4th time attending. It focuses on the confluence of technology and libraries in a tech-savvy way that few other conferences do. 

What follows are my mostly unedited notes and thoughts from memorable sessions of the conference (as with most conferences, some sessions I attended just didn't contain useful "blog-worthy" information from my perspective).

My thoughts got less organized as the conference proceeded, as connecting to wireless was pretty much broken in most session rooms and I had to resort to using the Easy Note app on my Android phone:

This year started out for me with an excellent half-day preconference workshop on Games and Simulations to Energize Training and Teaching, co-facilitated by fellow NYSers' Scott Nicholson (Syracuse U) and Jim DelRosso (Cornell).

Practicing what they preach in an engaging way, they ran us through a series of jolt, icebreaker, role-playing and simulation activities. Each was followed by a debrief session where we were actively encouraged to discuss the preceding activity and how we might use it in our own training and teaching, as well as our reactions and thoughts about what occurred. They ended with a deeper discussion of the use of the debrief as a learning tool, which I found very, very enlightening and already have a half-dozen half-baked ideas in my head about how to use this.

Gaming and Gadgets Petting zoo: the Playstation 3, Move-supported Gladiator game on Sports Champions was a big hit among the attendees. Who knew librarians would love virtually beating the crap out of each other?: A brief video of Gaming event co-organizer Amy Buckland, and Jim DelRosso playing.

Day 1:

Building Great Websites:
The day started out with a very engaging and informative session by usability and design gurus Amanda Etches-Johnson (U Guelph) and Aaron Schmidt (Influx). Again, they practiced what they preached with a simple and direct set of slides and an engaging message with lots of basic tips for how to create/improve upon a site that balances their three keys to success from user perspective: useful, desirable and usable.

usability: simple, less = better
lib sites are often “junk drawers” - lots of stuff/links “just in case” - better to streamline and hone so that 50% of users are delighted, rather than 100% of users being blaise about design.

Functional reading: users on web mostly scan page for what they need, so:
• remove unnecessary words
sensible abd clear labels and headings and use of white space
conversational tone: content must not be written in passive voice – needs to be active voice. The library = we, patron = you, patron = I. E.g., not: “enter an email address”, instead: “What is your email address?” - involve patron in it.
4 stages of lib website dev:
1. basic: necessary info, relevant functionality, no major usability issues – DO THIS FIRST
destination: lib-created content, basic interactivity
participatory: serious user-generated content, patrons creating culture w/ creation tools you provide.
Community portal: community platform, community knowledgebank
Check out: Google web site optimizer to get user feedback on possible designs
Kete: open source portal system

C102: Repositories and building community
2nd part: Jim DelRosso, Cornell U: DigitalCommons @ILR ( = high faculty participation
  • start small, focused...but dream big...find new things to do with it
  • find support...but be ready to do thingd yourself. 
  • Ask faculty: give us your vita, we'll do the rest: lowers the bar for participation. Proactive.
  • Plan ahead...but write them in pencil. Flexibility.
  • Assess!!! + anecdotes; stories tie it all together.

Day 2:

Keynote: on Digital natives:
3 ways to engage them:
  • public opinion, not private lives
  • knowledge sharing not hoarding
  • interactions not transactions
E-Book Publishers session: standard sales pitches, luckily limited to 5 min each. Yawn...

DRM: adobe has become defacto solution, even tho they need to improve or be replaced. Why are each of them coming up with their own proprietary solutions as well?

Had lunch and sat around in the terrace area with a few semi-under-the-radar luminaries in libraryland: Andy Woodworth, Jenica Rogers and Colleen Harris. I seriously learned more from their management and technology stories and discussions, ranging from dealing with trouble employees to dealing with facilities departments and backlogs of fix requests to ninja-ways to request small and big budget equipment and projects than I did at most of the formal sessions!

took part in the T is for Training live podcast (link not up yet - will add later when posted)

Day 3:
Lee Raine keynote:
  1. consequence of info ecosystem: volume. velocity.  explosion of creators. 55% of users noe share pics. 4-17% use location sharing. 12% use twitter 33% create tags. 62% use social networking. value add: 1. cover across divides: 44% those below poverty r highly dependent on libs and lib tech. 2/3 use lib tech to help others! more emphasis needed: relevance & digital literacy. bigger factor than price for those who don't use web.
  2. wireless connectivity: cell phones as social tool. app user profile: male young educated. app use is relatively low among cell phone functions used.  7% of adults have ereaders. 42% own game consoles!  can we get into the increasingly social spaces of gaming communities?  challenge: no longer place where ppl come. we need to go to them. value add: help ppl navigate and make peace w info: tools. access. context and Augmented reality. sanctuary - quiet space still desired.
  3. social networking revolution. half of ppl use social networks. diverse space. video creation going up. social network becoming default start and end of day stoping place. social dashboard. pervasive awareness. allows for immediate spontaneous creation of networks. smart mobs.
  4. lib shift: expertise and influence shifts to networks. value added: can be embedded in...attention zones-continuous partial attention, deep dives (eg medical), info snacking (eg angry birds), day dreaming.
  5. media zones: social streams, immersive (gaming), creative/participatory ( very open to lib expertise), study/work. value add: nodes in social networks: as sentries - word of mouth matters. evaluation; validators of quality/authenticity. forums of Acton; community focal pt/rally pt.
  6. teachers of new literacies: screen literacy/ visual; navigation literacy, connections, skepticism, ethical, how to create content. value add: help fill in civic gaps

Faculty user behavior session:
  • to understand entirety of faculty we need to look beyond our own survey efforts. surveyors to follow: UCLA high ed Res institute.  American college teacher natl norms. The College Board. CA digital Library: they engage in direct conversations. Mellon. ARL. ACRL. institutional research office: most univs have this.
    we need to get our transaction data into IRO hands.
    standouts: U Wash. Emory. both survey annually and longitudinally. faculty are used to being surveyed. creates foundation for communication b/w lib & faculty.
    faculty respond to persistent lib marketing. 
  • ithaka data: three categories define lib services: 1) gateway (contacts, access: but gradual decline in recognition of library as gateway), 2) buyer (emerging as key identity for research libs: more work needed w branding), 3) archive (humanists value this most; academics have mixed reactions to repositories). opportunity: link persistence to institutional identity.
  • new roles: teach support. research support. opportunity: follow faculty into online spaces and cocreate with them. limits of survey data: wisdom on the ground is crucial. days is only compass pt.
    library may have opp. as content publisher. oakleaf pub: value of academic libs. 
  • do not accept role as ancillary. pub lecture outside lib field. join college accredidation projects.  

Workflows session:
  • 4 factors for change: tech, skill sets, infrastructure (org culture etc), planning. 
  • you cannot live by adhoc decisions. make decisions based on where u want to go.
  • ereserves: reserves direct tech implementation went well. but infrastructure & skillset issues.  lots of dissatisfaction. then did some crosstraining.

Mobile usability:
  • mobile web and app usability conventions are very similar. W3C.
  • mobile is not a mini-desktop. mobile is less immersive-design for partial attention. context critical. microtransactions. 
  • desktop sites: satisfy all/most user needs. mobile: simple (edit down to essential),slim, deep; drill down. make choice mindless/easy. 
  • mobile users need info immediately. nypl site: 5 options. drill down via choices (where r u?) to other content. should be difficult/impossible to get lost in mobile site.
  • test: function, interaction, user satisfaction.
  • layers affecting usability: hardware, operating system or browser, UI
  • testing methods: heuristic evaluation, paper mockups, simulators/ emulators, lab-based w think outloud feedback, Firefox user agent, open me,
  • mobile OK checker.
  • browsercam. deviceanywhere./

Podcasting for professional development session:
  • Maurice Coleman (T is for Training), Jason Puckett and Rachel Borchardt (Adventures in Library Instruction): highlight was Rachel's plea for librarians to break out of the "traditional publication for tenure" model, as trad publishing is often too slow to be relevant to our fast-moving state of knowledge in many areas. She made a strong case that putting down our thoughts and conversations in podcasts and blogs and other newer media/communication outlets deserve some/more consideration in the tenure/prof dev process. I agree!

Transliteracy session:

  • content vs container. stories r changing: Amanda project. interactive fiction. flexibility is the key. transliteracy is "across" not "all"
    staff-led technical training. rethink access to collections. let reluctant readers read outside the "book"
  • transfer: across:transition. transformation. transposition.
    3 R's but go beyond that: 4 C's: communicate. collaborate. create.
  • diversity. flexibility. integrating. transformation.
    idea: have students use whiteboard to describe their own perception of "information" or "peer-reviewed."
  • blended learning
  • networked communities

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