Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

Yes this is a filler post and is basically self promotion!

Last week I had the opportunity to give a 15 minute presentation and participate in a panel discussion at the Midwest Library Technology Conference. The session was called “Avatarbrarians: Librarians at the Point of Need, Virtually” and my presentation was titled “Learning to be Avatars.” If you forget the first part with the puppets (inside joke) things went well. If you would like to see the slides from my presentation you can view them on SlideShare.

This was my first presentation at a library conference, buy not my first presentation. I had a great time at the conference and recommend it to all librarians in the Midwest, think about adding it to your calendar for next year. After many discussions between sessions and over food, I have several more thoughts on presentations I am gong to be developing, some I have already touched on in previous posts here and others are thoughts I have been developing lately that play off my technology and marketing backgrounds. I look forward to sharing them with you.


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CiL 2008 Notes

The following notes are posted hesitantly. But after multiple request I have decided to post them. They where originally post on the Reference Department blog at the library I work at. Take them for what they are worth.

CIL 2008 Day 1

The first day of CIL 2008 was tiring, but rewarding. I spend all day in the Webmasters Academy covering website redesign. I pickup a few nuggets of wisdom and some great resources, especially in the CMS arena, usability testing and website analytics. I was also gratified to see that we are moving in the right direction (even thought you may not have seen any changes yet) and that is a big boost to my confidence. I am excited about the rest of the conference.

CIL 2008 Day 2

There was no doubt at the start of the day that I was not in the Bahamas or even sunny Florida. After the highly overpriced breakfast (everything hear is over priced) I dived in to the Web Design and the Communities & Collaboration tracks. Hears a brief of what went on:

Key Note

Day kicked of with a presentation given by Lee Rainie, Director of Pew Internet & American Life Project. It was both a funny and engaging presentation that offered a great deal of information on trends in Internet usage. Here a couple of key points that I took away from his presentation:

1. Library patrons are using both the people and electronic resources.
2. Both types of services are equally important.
3. Libraries of have a market share of 53%.
4. Lack of awareness of services is a major factor in low market share.
5. Let your fans tell their story through interactive features.
6. Recent research shows the people are: relying on their social networks for, recommendation, problem solving and information more and more. It is important for libraries to find way to be part of their customer’s social networks.

Here is a link to some of the more library relevant information from the project: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/231/report_display.asp. I would encourage you to take some time to explore the entire report.

Rainie has recently demonstrated his view of the important of libraries by listing them first in his list of stake holde4rs when applying for the next round of grant funding for the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Session 1 – Web 2.0 Services for Smaller Libraries

Much of the initial part of the session was spent talking about Meebo chat widgets and similar products that are being used in libraries. We are already using the Meebo chat widget, but there are several locations that we should consider adding the Meebo widget, such as to every failure page and negative search results page on our website and within our catalog.

Many other tools where discussed that allow the customer to interact with the library catalog. Most of them moved the customer away from the library site. I see this as a major disadvantage to these types of applications. I would carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages before deploying such applications.

Finally using custom designed and branded widgets on other social interaction sites to improve awareness (I call this marketing) of the library and its services offers potential. IF effectively done this is can present a very low cost method to interact with our customers in their space, making them more willing to enter our space and use our products and services.

Session 2 – Collaborating with Customers

While the presenters in this session where both librarians with the National Institute of Science and Technology, they offered several points that would be applicable in a mid-sized public library such as ours.

1. Use liaisons to interact with various customer groups
2. Liaisons are key to collaboration by building depth of knowledge and resources, both print and electronic (study guides).
3. Circulate reports and do presentations to industry groups to promote services.

Potential Markets to address:

1. Legal
2. Businesses
3. Marketing firms
4. Health
5. Fed & state docs
6. Archives-history groups
7. Non-profits

Session 3 – Library Web Presence: Engaging the Audience

Here two universities talked about what they consider to be engaging uses of technology. Frankly I was less than engaged, even though I did sit through the entire session (I was sitting in the front row, so I felt trapped). The first library employed several widgets on their site to make their admittedly difficult first page les friendly. Say what? We instead of making the from page of the university website accessible by all group with expert pages as sub-page they chose to address only the expert users and put one little bitty link to this user friendly page. Some how I think they got on the wrong train here.

The second set of presenter in this session discussed how they improved student participation and use of their library subject guides by deploying LibGuides software. The real point here that is of value to use is to engage with the customer and give them opportunities to participate; also that visual presentation and ease of use is incredibly important

Session 4 -Widgets, Tools & Doodads

This session should have been called 30 things to drive your network admin insane. A few useful tools in this session that I will share with you latter when I have had time to look at them and discuss any security issues.

Session 5 – User-Generated Content

The final session of the day sure won for the most laughs generated. When terms such as “pigs in dresses” and “erotic zombies” are used in the course of a presentation, strange things are surely up ahead. Actually it was the most engaging of the day’s presentations and ended the day a positive note.

Key points of session:

1. More content (good) is good. Let your users help!
2. More access to more content is good.
3. Personalize services
4. Foster community interaction
5. We (librarians0 don’t know everything.
6. Use user centered content to create feedbacks to fill our information gaps and learn form our users.
7. The user’s idea of good content may/will not be the same as ours (librarians).

Well I am finishing this over breakfast on day 3, so I will be adding more latter.

CIL 2008 Day 3

Still no joy on the weather front here in our nation’s capitol, today started out cold and chilly. The bright spot was that there was no rain. Which does not really does not matter since all the conference rooms are downstairs in the basement levels and they keep us locked away from the light all day like troglodytes. I have had the opportunity to briefly enjoy several of the blooming cherry trees near the hotel.

Key Note

My uncontrolled bacon habit caused me to miss the first 8 minutes of this morning’s key note speaker. I really wish that I could change that. Eric Boekestejin and Jaap van de Geer of the Delft Public Library showed a series of videos from the 2007 Shahchietour, the librarians’ road movie and conducted a series of impromptu conversations with audience members about libraries. It was incredibly inspiring. I encourage you to check out the tour here: http://www.shanachietour.com/.

Session 1 – Mashups for Non-Techies

Mashups are basically the next step in using RSS feeds effectively. We are all using RSS feeds right?

The presenter focused on using Yahoo! Pipes which offers an amazing number of options and customizations, that make my head hurt. For me the fact that you can then basically pump your custom mashup back into you website offered the best opportunity for deployment to our public website. If you would like to explore this more and build your own pipes or even use a pipe that someone has already created go to http://pipes.yahoo.com , it’s free. Again building your own pipes has near unlimited comedic potential.

Session 2 – Drupal & Libraries

Drupal is an open source CMS (Content Management System) that is extremely popular on the web right now. It is being used by a significant number of both public and academic libraries around the world. And it’s FREE!

Anyway, I will not bore you with the details of the session other than to say that this application was already on our radar screen and is on our list of CMS’s to evaluate for use on our public website and maybe even our Intranet.

Session 3 – CC: Creative Commons

This session was a great discussion of copyright and one alternative to the traditional copyright method. Creative Commons allows content owners a wide range in how they allow their public works to be used or even “repurposed.” Many of the social networking and content sites such as Flickr allow users to attach a Creative Commons license to their images as they upload them. Flicker by default will attach a traditional copyright notice to uploaded images if no creative commons license is selected. The amount of flexibility that is available with CC licensing is a very interesting subject in and of itself. When we reach a point with our public website where we are allowing our customers to upload their content to our site, this may be an effective way to allow our users to retain control of the use of their content.

Learn more at: http://creativecommons.org

Session 4 – Harnessing New Data visualization Tools

This was a whirlwind session covering a whole range of online tools that provide data and/or allow data to be visualized. There really is a bewildering array of free options out there. I have found that tag clouds offer a very intriguing “tangible” visual data visualization, that may have interesting application for both RA and research.

http://dataplace.org is a good place to start looking at this subject. Tag clouds are perhaps my favorite form of data visualization that I have seen so far.

Session 5 – Leading Technology in Libraries

In this session I felt like a small fish dumped in a shark pool. I was literally surrounded by library directors, both front and back, they effectively cut off any hope of escape. I did do my best to keep my mouth shut… I tired (everyone who believes this raise your hand).

Here are some of the salient points from this presentation:
1. Make an E-Branch
a. Give your online presence equal importance, it likely get more visitors than your physical branch.
b. Set the vision, mission and goals for your e-branch.
c. For some of your customers the e-branch is the library and may very well be the only interaction they have with the library.

2. Why make time for “Web 2.0”
a. To remain relevant.
b. To teach the current generation.
c. Save time.
d. Your patrons want to participate.
e. To be a community leader
f. Professional development and to attract skilled employees.

3. How to find time for 2.0
a. Change your focus.
b. Schedule 2.0 activity time into your work schedule, as a library, department and individual.
c. Remember and give permission to play and experiment.
d. Grant time for blogging, content creation and other 2.0 activities.
e. Include training.

I hope you are finding these posts useful and if not, well I am going to keep them coming anyway. Please feel free to comment and ask questions and I will do my best to answer you.

CIL 2008 Day 4

The weather today is definitely on the up swing, I could see sunshine this morning! Day four at CIL 2008 started a bit slower for me, I must admit that I am getting tired and that my head is feeling very, very full. I estimate that it could take another six months just to process everything. Anyhow here is a summary of the day’s sessions:


This morning’s presentation was billed in the conference materials as “Gaming, learning and the Information World.” This very cheerful presenter admitted to finalizing her presentation just that morning and used this last minute flexibility to change the title of her presentation to “Libraries as Happiness Engines.” She encouraged us to think of libraries as happiness centers where people can come and well, be happy.

She listed the following items as elements of happiness:
1. Satisfying work.
2. Being good at something.
3. Time spent with people we like.
4. Being part of something.

She then asked if this sounded like gaming? What do you think (use comments to share your thoughts).

Here are a few more points from this mornings keynote presentation:
1. We should realize that some people are happier in a virtual world and that may be the only place we can each them [but they still pay taxes!].
2. The online line world is becoming connected to the real world. Second Life shows how the virtual economy is becoming a real economy.
3. Apply the Mary Poppins “Spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” approach to using gaming to promote learning.
4. Doing the “Grind” in video gaming and learning in general should be rewarded.
5. Good games deliver a sense of reward:
a) Collecting
b) Points
c) Feedback
d) Exchanges
e) Customization
6. Encourage productive play.
7. Successful real world game applications:
a) Tupperware party games
b) Super Sleuth
c) Summer Reading Programs
d) Chore Wars
e) Seriosity
f) Social Genius 2
8. Use game mechanics to make learning more interesting.
9. Explore PMOG (Passive Multiplayer Online Gaming).
10. Use games as “Gateway Drugs” that lead back to the “real” world.
11. The online rebound real-to-virtual-to-real.
12. Coffee shops in libraries become social and emotional centers that offer great opportunities to highlight rotating collections such as art and music while making a connection with our customers.
13. Consider how your library makes your customers feel, what kinds of connections are you making? Positive? Negative?
14. Make your library a place that connects with the real and virtual world.

Session 1 – Technology Tools for Effectively Managing Information

This session was 45 minutes of non-stop problems and solutions. There was quite frankly more than I could write down or even hope to absorb. I will try to process my notes and presentation and serve these up to you at a latter date.

Session 2 – Innovative Marketing Using Web 2.0 Tools

What a fantastic session! All the real world examples really showed how far we are from being close to our customers, and these ideas are not just for large libraries. Here are some highlights from the session:

· Your library brand is more than your logo, it I also books, the services you offer and your community.
· Move your marketing from trying to control your brand’s perception to influencing the perception of the brand (this is a really a huge concept that is hard for many traditional marketing people to understand and implement).
· Give ownership of your brand to your customers.
· Make sure you have active exposure and participation where your customers are.

Steps to Marketing 2.0
1. Educate – learn about social media
2. Experience – participate and join the conversation
3. Envision – develop a 2.0 marketing plan
4. Engage – create social collaborations, celebrate your customers and community
5. Enable – help your library brand and content to travel
6. Expand – play with multimedia that both you and your customers create
7. Explore! – learn as you go and track as you go
8. Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!

Allow your customers to market you by marketing themselves.

Session 3 – Gaming for Adults

Why do gaming for adults? To remain relevant and to become a place where people congregate, and you can also throw in all or most of the reasons you do youth and children’s gaming. Move gaming events out into the community by partnering with businesses (coffee shops) and other public organizations. Look at grants for program funding. Use staff gaming events to help lower resistance and help them to learn the games.

Do not use earphones, they create a sense of isolation and do not foster relationship building. Offering board games is fine, but should be separated from the noise and activity of computer games. Do not place all responsibility for gaming on the IT department, it is an outreach program!

Remember: Adults are kids too! (Use me as an example)

Session 4 – Successful Digital Marketing

What is the purpose of digital marketing? To connect library customers with library products, services and staff.

Where to be and what to do:
· City/Community Directories
· Library directories
· Search Engines (do SEO!)
· Use online advertising to target your specific market
· Have a good URL
· Register multiple URLs and redirect
· Post your events on other online calendars [be sure to include your URL]
· Love links! Link to other community sites and ask for links back
· Find out who is linked to you and use that relationship
· Maintain a good Wikipedia page
· Make catalog gadgets/widgets for social networking and other sites to imbed
· List blogs in blog search engines
· Tap into the cool and effective uses of blog and other geo search engines
· Monitor and participate in social review sites so you know what your customers are saying about you. Use their paid advertising to promote special events (like FaceBook flyers)
· Get listed in WiFi directories is you offer the service for free
· Monitor and participate in local blogs and forums
· Be real when interacting, don’t talk down, argue or use library speak.
· Get listed on expert sites
· Push out as much information as possible using email [with permission] and RSS feeds
· Consider a presence in a virtual world(s)
· Consider offering text messaging along with your IM services. Online applications can turn text messages into email and email into text messages. Be sure to advertise this along with other services. [this is all about being where our customers are, but then it all is]
· Have an interactive website with personalization, accounts, avatars and mashups
· Offer effective digital RA services
· Use video and pod casts and get listed in their directories
· Deploy text to audio services on your site if possible
· Use Twitter to micro blog, especially service changes and events. Be clear what services you will be offering via Twitter
· Plan it, staff it, do it!
· Start small and grow.

With only a half day tomorrow (Thursday) this conference is almost over. I hope at least a few of you have found these blog posts informative. Let me know if you have any questions or feel free to share your thoughts by commenting.

CIL 2008 Day 5 & the Return from %@^&%#

I think I left my mind back in Crystal City!

Officially, the actual conference ended on Wednesday afternoon. Dave and I hung around an extra day to attend post-conference workshops. I attend a workshop on screen casting for the entire morning.

What is screen casting? Well if any of you have watched/listened to the IRS training videos on the Wiki, then you have seen a screen cast (let me apologize to you and comment on how brave you where to listen to my voice). For those of you who have not, give them a try and see what you think. The presenter demonstrated numerous ways that screen casting could be used and gave us lots of tips on how to make them more successful to our audience, all of which I failed to do in my first attempts! I think there are a lot of ways that we can use this technology to interact with our external and internal customers.

The workshop ended shortly after noon and we where treated to more hotel food for lunch, but it was one last opportunity to meet new people and say goodbye to new and old friends (of course I had no old friends). This left Dave and I with almost six hours before our return flight. We decided to hit the Metro and run down to the Library of Congress and we where join by a very nice librarian from India (I had shared a table with him at a couple of workshops) who wanted to see a few of the sites as well.

Sadly much of the LOC was closed to the public due to renovations and only accredited researchers could gain access (my debit card did not cut the mustard). This kept us out of the rare book collections, so we wondered down to the map reading room. There we met a very nice librarian who took pity on us and gave us a special tour of the map areas.

Let me tell you, this place is mind boggling! She took the time to walk us around the back rooms and show us some of the rare gems of the collection. This included the world’s smallest globe, amazing powder horns with map carved on them and hand painted maps from the 12th and 13th centuries. We were as giddy as kids in a candy store! You could literally spend years just exploring the nautical maps alone. If you ever have a chance, it is well worth exploring this section of the LOC (the map reading room is located in the James Madison Building of the LOC, basement level). After a brief stop at the Air & Space Museum, it was a quick Metro ride back to the hotel, dinner and off to the airport.

Our flight out of DCA (Regan International) was delayed about half an hour due to the weather in Minneapolis. After a mildly bumpy ride we arrived in Minneapolis about 10 minutes before our next flight only to find that the flight had been canceled due to the weather here in La Crosse. By chance we noticed another flight listed on the flight schedules to La Crosse (which was not mentioned when we exited our incoming flight). At as close to a run as Dave could make it (remember: bad back, see me for private jokes ) we went across the airport in hopes of making it home sometime that evening.

We made good time thanks to the moving sidewalks and signed up for the new flight, and waited. Flight time pushed back, we waited. Again, flight pushed back, we waited. Sometime around midnight, they finally officially canceled the flight due to the crew timing out. They gave us hotel vouchers and sent us on our way. I futilely tried to get my suitcase and did not make it to the hotel until three that morning. Then it was up again at 6:30, quick bite of breakfast and off to the airport to catch a bus. Yes a bus, which they managed to not get out of the gate on time either.

Well, despite the journey, Dave and I made it back to La Crosse sometime around noon on Friday, minus our luggage. The ever so helpful people at Northwest Airlines told us it could be a week or before we see our luggage. I think they are waiting for more snow to fall so they send on bags via sled dog teams.

Thus ends the saga of Tim at CiL 2008. I am happy to share my experience or answer any questions you might have. Thank you to everyone who made this most enlightening and educational journey possible.

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