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* Friday, October 27, 2006

IL Reflections

I am happy to report that this year's Internet Librarian conference was as great in person as it sounded on paper. It was great to see so much of the "new" stuff in the titles and descriptions of the sessions. As I noted in my welcome to the public libraries track, I went through the program and counted at least nine mentions of RSS, at least five mentions of podcasting/videocasting, at least seven of "social software," at least seven of "web 2.0," at least two of "Library 2.0," at least six of mashups, two of Flickr, and I lost track of the number for wikis.

Just as great were the several references to "user-centered planning," "user-centered experienced," and "user participation," and the sessions for all of these topics were generally pretty full. I was especially heartened to see so many sessions focusing on real-life examples of Library 2.0 as models for any type of library. It's great that we've gone from Michael Casey coining the term "Library 2.0" a little over a year ago to such practical examples in just one year. As Helene Blowers noted in her Learning 2.0 talk, life moves fast, but I continue to meet a lot of librarians who have embraced change (both internal and external to our profession), a "play" attitude, a willingness to try new tools, and an open mind.

Some highlights for me (excluding folks like Michael Stephens and Aaron Schmidt who I get to see present more often), in no particular order:

  • David King's sessions. I really enjoyed both of David's talks that I saw, one on experience planning and one on videocasting. He has really stepped up his presentation style, incorporating multimedia and his great sense of humor. His examples were relevant and supported his points well. I am enamored of his videos.
  • The Flickr session. Michael Porter did a wonderful job of presenting Flickr and why it's so great for libraries, plus he played audio and ran the slides for presentations from international speakers who couldn't be there in person. (I looooooove Picture Australia!) I am happy that Michael is doing his own Library 2.0 roadshow on the west coast and hope he gets to keep doing it, because he is also a great presenter with a wonderful sense of humor (and I'm not just saying that because he gave me a kiss). Michael Sauers did a nice job of rounding out the session by showing the really fun side of Flickr that addicts us all.
  • Cliff Landis' talk about Facebook. Cliff is just like you'd think he is based on his blog, and I enjoyed hearing his thoughts about how to use social software in academic libraries. More humor, more practical advice, nice style.
  • Helene Blowers talk about Learning 2.0. When Michael Casey couldn't make it to the conference, Michael Stephens and I could easily have filled the time ourselves, but instead we took advantage of the opportunity to ask Helene to talk about her wonderful initiative at her library. Judging by the buzz at the conference and on the blogs, we made the right choice! Helene is a great speaker (more of that great librarian humor) and her enthusiasm is contagious! Of course, I already knew this, having worked with her on the ALA L2 Bootcamp, but it was gratifying to hear how her staff responded to her L2 intiative.
  • Tammy Allgood's demo of the Flecther Library's library instruction game. Well, her whole talk, really, but the demo was the icing on the cake. It looks deceptively simple, but Tammy did a great job of explaining how much work and planning is behind the endeavor. I look forward to hearing more about the project and getting to play it myself. ;-) Seeing what the librarians at ASU West have done in this area is inspiring, and I wish I'd known they were so far along, as I would have included them in my forthcoming issue of Library Technology Reports on gaming.
  • Liz Lawley's closing keynote. Of course. Because it focused on gaming and, well, because it was Liz, who I want to be like when I grow up. I loved her comparison of gaming now with blogging a few years ago, and in the beating a dead horse category, she was really funny while making some pretty strong arguments in favor of the relevance of gaming to libraries. I thought she did a great job of summing things up, not just for the conference but for one particular moment in librarianship.

While I didn't encounter any new concepts, I learned something from almost every session I attended, and it's one of the few conferences I've been to lately where there weren't any real dead spots. There were a lot of other sessions I heard were great, and I wish I could have cloned myself to attend them all (hello, Second Life Library folks, Steven M. Cohen, Karen Coombs, and Gary Price, among so many others). So a big thank you to everyone that presented (especially in the public libraries track - you folks rocked!), and kudos to Information Today for putting on such a great show.

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