ALA 2011 Annual Conference New Orleans June 24-27 2011 report
(unmitigated notes and comments)
My focus was on technology, access services and public libraries.
I was impressed that (in comparison with when I last attended in 2000) many of the all academic sessions were very applicable to public settings.
I am always impress on how we compare with all the best of/innovative/leaders all over. We have managed to accomplish so much of what people are showcasing but with defi
nitely less people, money, connections and time.
I also was there to continue to explore alternatives to our current ILS, not just the vendor but the way to manage to data overall. Opensource continues to be an interesting option but seems definitely best suited in consortium and academic settings where support development and training can be organized and provided "overhead", almost outside of the library's operation structure. I mean they have help and teams dedicate to that that don't exist for us.
It was refreshing and restoring to go and get a broader perspective; and it was rewarding to learn things that i will be able to apply (or at least explore) immediately at MPOW.
I mostly spent time at our vendors booths (Sirsidynix/Bibliotheca/Envisionware etc.) but I also visited other ILS (Integrated Library Systems) competitors to Sirsidynix as alternatives for service. I thought it a little inconvenient that vendors opened late after the conference opened and closed early before the conference was over. It seem counter intuitive for me as I would have had more time to spend there before and after my time was so committed to various presentations and workshops.)
Opening Session & Keynotes.
A lot of ALA awards were presented and the mayor of New Orleans made us all feel very welcome.
Dan Savage spoke of his “It Gets Better” campaign, started in reaction to multiple LGBT teen suicides last year. He spoke of what motivated him and his partner to reach out on youtube and how fast the movement became huge and touched a great number of other public figures and celebrities. What resonated with me the most was his way to explain how bullying happens to most all young people for various reasons but that if kids were bullied because of their religion, economic situation, cultural background or social status, most of them came home to see adults who were living proof that you can survive these things and grow to have a happy fulfilled life. The same cannot be said for LGBT teens. How great a reminder of the library’s role as a place where all people can recognize themselves and find commonality of ideas, information and human connections.
Was an excellent basic on what not to miss and where conference resources were to be found. Presenters reminded everyone not to miss the exhibits (see my personal comment above!) They also let us know not to be afraid to switch session after the 1st 5 to 10 minutes if it wasn’t what we expected and to look online for session slides and handouts for sessions we liked or missed. (I found much of that was missing still 2 weeks after our return. It should be noted that the wifi was not very reliable at the conference site so may presenters may have tried to upload contend and failed?)
***Taiga Forum meeting
Was about the Taiga “provocative statements” which were written and reviewed in the last year. http://taigaforumprovocativestatements.blogspot.com/ To be honest, I don’t think most of these statements are that provocative anymore. They did solicit new statements but the conversation was largely based on the academic library experience and expectations.
TAKE AWAY: I still like and think we should discuss: statement # 2. radical cooperation
Within five years, campus administrators will expect research libraries to significantly reduce library budgets by engaging in radical cooperation among competing universities: jointly-owned collections, deep outsourcing, shared staffing, and shared services
I believe this applies to public libraries as well.
Was an open meet and greet about the work that LITA (Library Information Technology Association) does and the committees and interest groups it manages. Looking for recruits and volunteers. I signed up as a member.
TAKE AWAY: membership in LITA and involvement in one of the committees should allow for more collaboration outside our own system.
***One Person Can Make a Difference: Tips and Techniques for the Lone Change Agent
Speaker: Scott Hughes, City Librarian, Bridgeport Public Library
Speaker: Stephanie Chase, Central Library, Multnomah County Library
Was an excellent session on how to get not only “buy in” for change but also help!!! I loved it, especially Stephanie’s part (based partly on “good to great”) where she did re-enforce a lot of what I truly believe in, like:
“Look up! You can’t see what’s coming if you keep your eyes right in front of your bumper”
“The needs we planned for yesterday may not be the needs that we have to meet today”
“be willing to do the work for the reward of success. It is the best reward and may be the only one.”
“get out of the echo chamber”
She definitely taught me a few things as well:
“put your best people on the opportunity, not the problem”
“bureaucracy was set up to handle incompetence”
“information is energy”
“look for next practices not best practices”
...one question remain: to brown bag or not to brownbag? :)
TAKE AWAY: try to better define each effort in technology improvement and do so with the help of at least one staff member who cares enough about the specific service goal to champion the project.
***ILS Migration Project Manager's Jambalaya: 1 part library science, 1 part open source, and a whole lot more!
Speaker: Jennifer Turner, Minnesota State University
Speaker: Melissa Lefebvre, Bibliomation, Inc. … and also speaking Shae Tetterton from Equinox (vendor/support of Evergreen and Khoa)
ILS migration is a big deal. It seems that being in a consortium helps as they have a dedicated team to deal with the vendor, do the migration and do the training.
The contract is soooo important. everything must be spelled out and clarifications must be made at that time on both sides. HAVE ONLY ONE PROJECT MANAGER but multiple "sous-chefs".
made me laugh: "Seek the people that understand your dataset because it will be the key to the entire process" ... DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.
also important: free up people's time.
delegate things that can be done at a lower cost (data clean up? training? etc.)
do your weeding, inventory, data mapping ahead of time.
and remember, NO MIGRATION IS EVER PERFECT. don't panic, sleep on it (problems) if you can.
TAKE AWAY: don't be afraid to manage the project. these things do need spreadsheets and lists and deadlines. Don't rely on the vendor. (or anyone else)
***FEAST (Future & Emerging Access Services Trends) presented by LLAMA (Library Leadership & Management Association) SASS (Systems and Services Section)
Amy form Emory University lead a project to consolidate circ, ref and the library's "biz hub".
they had time and experimented with temporary desks (rented furniture!) in various locations to find the perfect place and configuration. They found that circ had much better documentation and training procedure (due to the nature of their work and high turnover) and ref was much more organic in all that and their schedule. the coming together as slow but successful. they still have to work on team building as it was not their focus at 1st.
It definitely brought to my mind how we did all this under deres when one of our branches was condemned for roof failure (and without the luxury of rented furniture or test periods ;)
TAKE AWAY: review other possibilities for consolidated delivery. not only main public services, but also any other "services" which could be combined like some of what children services do that is like what literacy wants to do or what reference does one on one that would make fantastic programs for larger groups.
another presenter highlighted the 2 types of DVD dispensers on the market right now 3M and LAT
since you browse the screen it's always in order (if you cataloguing is good !?) never an empty box returned. can be put outside!
3M can fit 720 to 2800 discs; Mediabank (LAT) 400/3000 discs. (at Topeka Shawnee)
they start at 25000$! they say it pays for itself in 16 months.
TAKE AWAY: is more of a question but these machines are great, but so costly; should we not spend that money on downloadable collections which need not protected and need no real estate.
***Lost in Translation: the Emerging Technology Librarian and the New Technology
Implementing technology can be both an exciting and hard endeavor. Who doesn't know the scenario of Library meets technology, technology woos library, library implements technology, technology disappoints. Please join us where our emerging technology librarians present common miscommunication between those that implement the technology and those that use it. By walking the audience through a number of scenarios, the audience will learn to identify when there are communication problems and learn tips on how to improve understanding on the project. Sponsored by LITA Emerging Technologies Interest Group.
THIS WAS LIKE GOING HOME TO ME. so relevant, so reflective of my day-to-day.
Staff sees or hear about great tech and "wants it now!"
you (I) have to be the wet blanket that makes them think hard about:
-what is the advantage to your user? who will provide the data used for this application? who will maintain the data/hardware/social side of new tech? what effect will this have on other people/services/systems???
what is the useful application for this technology?
QR CODES were cited as a great example of technolust often gone wrong.
ask "what is the use case?"
is it a project or a product?
sometimes, it has noting to do with tech (start form an outside/other goal)
then tech helps
then in the end it has nothing to do with tech again...
the project SLEEVEFACING BLOG was cited as great success http://blogs.bgsu.edu/librarysleevefacing/
TAKE AWAY: it is not only OK but actually essential to question the reasons for the technology requests. ask for the service case (an example of what added value this brings our customer). Continue to ask where the content will come from. IS IT SUSTAINABLE?
***top tech trends (I always watch from my desk, now I was there!
I read later that this panel may be trending towards, "what I would like to see emerge strong" more than the original intent of "what is trending strong"
-drupal yes, still
-MOBILE APPS and their implications such as content becoming vulnerable to the software ability... as well as IT'S ONLY A GOOD APP IF IT LEVERAGES THE DEVICE ITSELF otherwise, it should be a widget or a mobile website bookmark...
...which almost directly lead to
-proximity based marketing: as in "please, turn ON your cell phone when you enter the library" (love that thought.) it can leverage wifi and PUSH info.
-SOCIAL READING is also trending up. all library things, good reads and even some e-readers with social networking components. (Kobo) think also of the sirsidynix facebook application for your catalog, bibliocommons should be a natural for this. http://www.bibliocommons.com/
-managing down print
-IMAGES/imaging as datasets.
-death of the mouse. tablets are everywhere, mouse will disappear. (even camera will be input)
1-I was really hoping to hear more about the possible future demise of the all powerful one system ILS... too bad. I think it is coming and libraries will purchase more separate systems to integrate themselves to other smaller systems and services. M. Breeding reminds us later that new generation cloud based, is coming like serials solutions web scale management solution (dump your ILS) similarly; OCLC web scale management services leverage worldcat with the ability to add circulation and acquisition licenses.
2- I really think the library has to become an important player in social reading.
3- i will ding dong dance on the mouses' grave ;)
***Issues Briefing Session (ALA IFC / FTRF)
The issues briefing session of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and Freedom to Read Foundation explores hot issues. I went specifically to find out about their recommendations to public libraries about the self service holds processes. A lot of their recommendation sounded like they were against our practices but the truth was that they wrote it to stop practices where all the user info was in plain sight. The confirmed to me that a combination of some letters from the user name and some numbers from their card was considered a code and could be used as we have it right now.
TAKE AWAY: I thought we could make some improvements on privacy safeguard and will make proposals to the managers at their next meeting like all spines back, only 2 or 3 letters of last name etc...
focus seems to mostly be on offsite storage for academics these days...
TAKE AWAY: funny how the more we digitize, the more we seem to have a storage problem ;) there is the cloud of data, then there are big cloud warehouses of "last physical copies".
***COSUGI meeting at ala11
Only a few people present. The incoming COSUGI president and Jim (last name) former Dynix CEO and a few (3 or 4) customers.
get a quote I was told (which I did, not heard yet)
academics discussed RDA tags and sirsidynix confirmed that 3.4.2 will have all of them.
I did have a few questions which I submitted like
what will be the costs for Webservices (tool to customize Symphony/elibrary/enterprise)?
no more than $300 i was told !
what about cost of the Facebook integrated application for the catalog?
also sounds like sirsidynix want to get into the ebook discovery/delivery business in the cloud.
they are planning a "total" solution which could include authentication, platform intelligent download and provide discovery thru catalog records which would be part of a "full content" subscription. this should sound familiar as other vendors are proposing something of the sort.
may have potential for other electronic collections such as music and movies too.
we proposed that they let cosugi use the sirsidynix institute for some user group training/sessions .
TAKE AWAY: it really hurts us not to go to the user conference... SD still seems in flux about how to "handle" their customers and specifically enhancement requests. only time will tell. Hope that this possibility of online training materializes, it would really help us.
VENDORS BOUNTY: (100% take away)
AT SIRSIDYNIX BOOTH
facebook add on (3.4.1) is neat, there are (may be) privacy law issues though.
note that some facebook info gets entered in the library user record ?!
Enterprise (the add-on catalog discovery layer)seems to finally be ready for public use ;)
most all the cumbersome non-links to "my accounts" issues resolved at V4 out this week.
we are definitely as far behind on versions as we have ever been. issues with sirsidynix support last year prevented us from performing any upgrades so I intend to schedule the following in the next few months:
-upgrade symphony to version 3.3.1 with latest patch cluster
-switch iBistro page sets to Rev. D
-set up and offer Bookmyne the mobile catalog interface
if money allows also install webservices to make customizations easier
AND start working on implementing Enterprise after that. ... Hoping to get a good project manager on the SD side.
must write a serious schedule for the test server starting as soon as I return from vacation.
and investigate circulating sets (but I believe that is only available in v3.4)
and running the name refactor script to separate user names and 1st names in the database (currently 1 name field: last, first, middle. becomes surname: last; first name: first; middle name: middle.) this allows for a few tricks like having your holds slips made of some letters from each part of the name instead of just one. not really a plus for privacy though...)
much more goodies discovered as I had a chance to explore the label making features of the java client, they seem to work well both with single label printers (wish we could afford immediately) and with page labels. I also had a chance to connect back with some good sirsi folks I hadn't seen in a long time. it was good to meet face to face with Sonia, our very own customer advocate at the company. we agreed regular calls may help keep everyone on track and well informed.
met many new people following the merger with ITG. Looks like it will be a plus for everyone. we really can hope for much added value. Sad that non of the actual tech support people were there but understood how busy they are.(It was also nice to learn more about the ITG group at the social (one of only 2 after hour events I attended. Mackey definitley had the best music mix.)
facing the happy/sad fact that the product has been so good and simple and working for us that we have not needed to make any changes (read upgrades) in a long time. that, coupled with the lack of PC tech support at the library put us pretty far back in product version. they contract out and some library pay them to make multiple version upgrades on site. (could be as much as $1000/day + travel.) They can also consult with staff here with eliminated the travel fees. To determine later if needed.
They seem to be coming up with some interesting web (only!) payment that can be combine with iBistro fee/fines payment and copy/printing from the new konica minolta copier/printers we are starting to purchase now. (but that would require some upgrading)
later that week, from my desk, I participated in an online webinar called :
***ala tech roundup:
(where most of the highlights from the conference matched my notes)
native apps are hard for libs... not yet so many web apps
outsource it? (like boopsie)
there were talks about a media creation area
we have thought and proposed this so many times here.
almost did it in the expanded multigenerational tech room in our "high tech branch"
wanted /needed macs for it?
---ebooks "twitter version" summ up:
adobe stays, kindle is coming
chooses the format for you
some simultaneous use
patron driven acq.
3M cloud library
30000 titles>100000 this year
discovery station (browsers)
e-readers for checkout
gluejar open access ebook
funded public radio style
co-op style (member)
not best sellers
donate 1 book to join
pay per use
20000 titles offered
in the cloud
not for mac
ebooks on ebscohost
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