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I’ve been to professional conferences before – Library Technology Conference 2010 at Macalester University, and more Handheld Librarians than I can remember – and I’ve been to conventions, both large and small.
But something about ALA has me more than a little nervous.
It’s big, yes, but it’s a different kind of big than what I’m used to. At the biggest conventions I’ve attended, I’ve always had a group of people I could come back to. I had a home base. I won’t really have that at ALA. The classes, talks, and poster sessions don’t worry me – those are pretty standard fare. The difference at ALA is that it’s a professional conference. That means networking.
Networking isn’t something that comes easily to me in a face-to-face setting. Networking online is totally different. I can have a circle of Library-Folk on Google+, for example, and share neat things with them and see the neat things they share, and we can talk about it in threaded comments. This is comfortable. This is something I’m used to.
For all my years in public services, both in circulation and at the reference desk, initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know is still a little awkward. At the desk, there’s always the transaction to serve as a vehicle for conversation. I don’t know if there is an ALA conference equivalent.
Part of me is a little overwhelmed that this is “me” now. I take my last class (my portfolio) in the fall. I graduate in December. I’ll have my official “librarian” stamp, signed, sealed, and accredited before Christmas*. This is a Big Step In Adulthood for me, which I know sounds silly, but we don’t all sprout fully seasoned and experienced Librarians and Library Professionals from the frontal cortex of Ranagathan**.
We all start somewhere. ALA 2013 will be my first ALA conference, and I’m sure it won’t be my last. I am using the newbie tools to keep a schedule and generally plan my two days.
As the good Doctor says, allon-sy!
Let me start off by saying that I love Pinterest as a way to share ideas, inspirations, and resources. I find the use of collaborative boards for programming (which turn in the boards for services in general, at times) is especially useful. These great ideas/finds show up like shiny gems in the deluge of recipes, home décor, and outfits.
Today when going through my feed, I discovered the Awesome Box implemented by the Somerville Public Library. This lead me to a rabbit-trail of information seeking about Harvard University Library’s Awesomebox project, including their resources for libraries to offer this service.
I think this is a great idea to get patrons promoting the items they like. We can blog about titles in the form of book reviews, we can post new/exciting releases on Facebook or Twitter, but the Awesomebox puts the patrons in control of that content – THEIR content. The library becomes the social networking site, in a way. Staff can also get a sense of what content
I’m no wizard when it comes to coding, and PHP is still pretty foreign to me, but the way the folks at HUL have outlined it, it seems pretty simple to follow.
Another awesome library innovation I’ve seen recently is an idea my good friend and colleague, Becca, implemented at the Rapid City Public Library. Overdrive blogged about the Sacramento Public Library’s initiative to create physical space on the shelves for their digital content, through the use of stickers on print editions and shelf cards (think horizontal bookmarks for shelves). I think this is a great idea to merge the physical collection with the digital offerings, especially when coupled with staff able to walk patrons through the process of getting these titles downloaded to their device of choice.
I’m less than a month into my final semester of coursework at SJSU, and I’m loving it so far. Juggling three classes and three part-time jobs is difficult, yes, but each class is incredibly interesting and (thankfully) has its own day of the week when assignments are due.
I was intimidated by the Drupal course at first, since I wasn’t sure how it would be taught. Our first, mandatory Collaborate session was basically a walk-through on how to set up a domain, hosting, and install Drupal. This was awesome. Each lecture is like this – a walk-through on how to accomplish the tasks given in the homework. Given, the walk-through is basic, lacking any bells and whistles students may wish to play with, but that’s okay! It’s like having the anchoring rope when you go rock climbing.
Next week in Services for Young Adults, we’ll be evaluating programs to see how they line up with the developmental needs of teens – and I’m psyched about this! Talk about the nitty-gritty of library services. In History of Books and Libraries, we’re using Quia.com for our weekly assignments, which serve as study guides (of a sort) for our various assigned pieces of the weekly content. We’re in the middle of Middle Age Manuscripts, which I’m totally stoked about. I still need to pick a manuscript for my larger project. There are so many nifty ones out there, and there’s always Northwestern’s Special Collections a short drive away.
In short, there’s a lot to keep me busy.
I want to quote infoDOCKET’s Gary Price: “Lack of knowledge about services means lack of use.”
No doubt you’ve already read the recent Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report on libraries or a commentary blog post/article on it. I don’t want to re-hash what others who have been in the biz longer than me have said about the findings, but I would like to share an idea.
This came to me (and several others, as ideas borne of round table discussions do) during the 2012 Strategic Plan meeting at the Rapid City Public Library. I was seated with coworkers and community leaders at a little round table, and after watching snippets from R. David Lanke’s 2011 presentation for the Swedish Library Association, we discussed RCPL’s place in the community, the services we provided, and what our mission, values, and vision should be in the coming years.
I remember being very surprised that people seated with me weren’t aware that the downtown library location had a drive-up window where patrons could pick up holds and drop off returns. It wasn’t exactly a “new” service – I could have better understood it if they hadn’t been aware of our efforts to digitize local information or our increasing collection of downloadable formats.
We came up with the bare-bones of a marketing plan – a simple “Did you know…at the library?” campaign carried out through various media (mostly posters, in our mind). Did you know that you can check out ebooks for your Kindle, Nook, or other device at the library? Did you know you can check out ereaders at the library? Did you know that you can create music/video/media at the library? The possibilities are endless, and it could be as small or as big a campaign as needed, from posters at the local grocery store to tv ads. It’d be great if the ALA took on the campaign as a national thing to promote public library use in general, but I doubt that will happen. That’s not really their style, so far as I can tell.
So with classes done (and awaiting final grades), I’ve gotten a chance to catch up on my Google Reader feed. One of the blogs I follow is the British Library’s Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog. They use it to showcase various aspects of the illuminated manuscripts in their digitized collection, and I use it to drool over the amazing craftsmanship and artistry of the form.
I mean, isn’t this just gorgeous?
This spring, I’m taking LIBR 280-10, which History of the Books and Libraries. One of our units will be on illuminated manuscripts, so as you can imagine, I’m really excited about the course. But as it covers the titular “history of the book” the course will also cover e-books and other digital aspects of libraries.
I have been musing lately about my own dual nature. I love the more “ancient” aspects of books – the illumination, the binding, and the other aspects that make the object itself a work of art. I am also really excited about the direction in which libraries (and books) are going. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a million more times, that content is content. These days it doesn’t matter what container the content is delivered in – be it physical or digital, audio or text. The idea that the same content can be digested in so many different ways thrills me – the same way that the container of books handwritten on vellum and bound by hand with leather and waxed cord thrills me.
Yeah, I know I’m weird.