Some quick thoughts on the 2015 Collective Conference

picture of Chad in front of Knoxville Sunsphere
Obligatory Sunsphere selfie, proof I was there.

Most library conferences I have been two lately are mega events, often requiring trips to strange (and hot) lands like Las Vegas. Some colleagues found a new conference, that was cheap, small, and offered an alternative to those traditional sage-on-the-stage venues.   The conference was called The Collective, and happened to be located in a town where I had lived for 7 years.  These are some ideas and observations from The Collective 2015 Conference in familiar (and cold) Knoxville, Tennessee.

Returning to a city that you lived in for 7 years, having been in your profession for 13 years since you left, can make you feel really old. I visited my old apartment building; it looked the same. However, so many things have changed, like why did they get rid of O’Charley’s on the Strip?

One would hope that by driving 400 miles south, one would be greeted with warmer temperatures.  It was -10 in Knoxville, and -18 in Athens.  So I guess that’s a little warmer?!?

There are always those one or two people who have to ask the last question, or have an opinion or insight in every single conference session. This can be exacerbated by smaller conference settings.

I’d like to make a Collective-like mini-conference-like thing for library staff in our building to sign up and present. My initial idea is that folks could do a 10-minute-max show-and-tell (wow-that’s-a-lot-of-hyphens) of productivity apps, email hacks, or just about how they work.  I envision that folks could submit proposals via a Google form, then the organizer(s) of the mini-conference could organize the session in a logical order.   I also envision lots of coffee and homemade baked goods.

I like to play with others, and enjoy doing so. However, attending two 1.5 hour sessions back-to-back where “we will break into small groups and talk” is a bit much. I left the second session to attend a more “sit-back-and-listen” presentation. I’m all for group activities, but they can be draining as well. I appreciated that the Collective gave a mix of both listen/question and active/workshop/engage/discuss program formats. Kudos for choice.

I’m still a sucker for PowerPoint versus the “let me live demo this for you” presentation. I’m a big fan of a loose script, not so much of the freestyle.

For an upcoming presentation on how to make videos, I want to do some video success stories of some of my colleagues. The plenary speaker had a couple of video testimonials, which added a great deal to her PowerPoint presentation. I think my colleagues offer some great insight, and this could showcase more than one expert on the topic. rocks. That is all. I loved how easy it is to choose what I want to attend. I even got an email each morning telling me what my conference schedule was for the day. Very cool.

Best catch phrases (likely paraphrased):

  • On leadership: “Sometimes when you are good at something, you keep doing the same thing. ” You don’t grow and it limits you.
  • On solving a problem: “We talked a lot. We’re academics, so we formed a committee.”
  • On library streaming video:”Discoverability preceeds usability.”
  • On the hours and scheduling of the library at NCSU:  “It’s complicated.”

Favorite session:  “Staffing the Commons”  .  Good, practical advice, and the discussion after the presentation was great as well. Writeup to follow once I can wrap my head around things.

Session I had higher hopes for:  “Project Management Tools and Tips“.    I read “tools” to mean productivity and teamwork applications, such as Evernote and Trello, but it was rather Word templates for asking the right questions about a project.  Another colleague had a similar interpretation, so perhaps a different description would have led me to another session.

Attendee dinner reception: It’s very hard to beat beverages, BBQ, blues, new and old librarian friends. ‘Nuff said.

Water bottles and messenger bags make for great conference swag.

Being able to stay in the same hotel as the conference is pretty awesome.

We drove 800 miles round trip for the conference, and planned to make our stay a little longer and more leisurely.  However, snow going down forced me to drive 35 mph all the way to Cincinnati, and the threat of more snow pushed us to leave the conference early on Friday, missing the final two sessions.  Regardless of the drive, I thought it was a good conference and would love to attend (and perhaps even present) again.

I applaud the folks at University of Tennessee libraries for putting on a great conference.  This conference serves as a model of what small conferences should be.

CIL: Wikis in Action presentation slides

I would like to say a big “thank you” to all the folks who came to the Wikis in Action session this morning. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you about wikis. You’ll find my presentation slides at the link below.

Wikis In Action: A Wiki as a Research Guide

If anyone would like to continue the discussion, feel free to shoot me an email or IM. I’d be happy to answer any questions, and I would definitely welcome any opportunity to learn from others who are using wikis. My contact information is:

Business Card

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

CIL: Creative Visibility: Toolbars and Game Nights

Scott Rice, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Giz Womack, Wake Forest University


FYI—I went to library school with Scott.

Scott created a Firefox toolbar for his library. He had orginally worked with bookmarklets. User has to find bookmarklets and tweak them. Not very user friendly.

good for distance education
have links to library searches, blackboard, campus directories,

Why firefox? It’s easier to implement. Firefox toolbar has more flexibility

What do you need to make a toolbar?
XUL (very much like XML)
Text editor (Notepad or Notetab light)
Zip (Winzip)
Image editor (GIMP)

Firefox toolbar tutorial

Look at other library toolbars

Future Improvements
Work with Ezproxy
Rewrite URLs
Notify when not proxied
Allow user configuration

Who’s using it? not sure
Gotten any feedback? no not really
scott says he’s working on publicity. Will try to get it installed on local public machines

How to make a toolbar?
Create files

Toolbar is awesome. Imagine having this on all of the public workstations in your library.

Giz Womack
The How and Why of Game Nights in Libraries

Get Game@GSR
An idea from the library director, who had learned about the idea at a conference.
Have done a September and February event.
Primarily Xbox

How they did it?
Library Information Technical Staff
Resident Technology Advisors
RTA’s were very excited

LCD projectors (got surplus projectors from other departments on campus)
Screens (rented at first then bought six screens)
equipment gives them competitive advantage

Long extension cords and surge protectors are a must
Painters tape and pens to put names on the equipment that participants bring
Tournaments need a trophy!

Open game night 60 people, blew three circuits
Tournament fewer people,
Students registered in advance ( have to be students to bring their hardware)

Open Game Night on Friday in September 7-11 (it’s dark outside)
Tournament on a Friday in February from 3-6 (they like that time just as well)

Setup for each event about 2 hours

email, paper fliers, website announcements

Open game night $425 (lots of startup expenses that will not be recurring)
Tournament $172 (most went to food and the trophy)

Why we did it:
Gaming is big business
Many Library users are gamers
To encourage students to visit the library
to generate positive publicity for the library

from survey:
100% did not mind bringing their own equipment

Lessons Learned:
External sponsors are hard to find
Very easy to trip a circuit breaker
The students like these events

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

CIL:Weblogs as Customer Communication and Collaboration Tools

Susan Fingerman, Johns Hopkins University
Christina K. Pikas, Johns Hopkins University
Susan Klopper, Goizueta Business Library, Emory University
Clara Hudson, University of Scranton


Christina K. Pikas
Christina talks about what ehy have done with blogs at APL.
Current Blog
Internal Blog
Environment at APL: Very centralized IT management, no library servers, no lab-wide support.

Their need at APL:
Need for a newsletter, but intranet portal was inflexible.

Our first try:
Librarian suggested software, but the techie chose something entirely different.   Unfortunately, this did not work.   Their server was taken away when IT centralized.   The blog software they had was not flexible.

Second try:
Head of library new an off-site techie who was willing to host the site.   Purchased Movable Type license, set up on another host.   Can create multiple blogs quickly with one interface.

Current blog
Statistics:   Using Apache/Webalizer (2,000 hist per month)
E-mails received requesting mentioning on the blog.   Almost a race to get mentioned on the internal blog.

Beg, borrow, or steal a host.   Not hosted on the library server.   Unfortunately, a lot of libraries with centralized IT run into this barrier, as those who control the servers don’t see the big picture.

Lots of other internal blogs at APL, but there is no centralized place to find them.

Lessons learned:
Try to get a stable host
Do not assume customers and IT know/get blogs
Back-up your posts in case you need to change hosts, or if the IT environment software is unstable.
Put lots of contact information on the blog.

Susan Klopper
So you want to start a blog   -or-   If you build it, they may not come
Based on Susan’s personal experience in the library at Emory

Gallup report:   Blog Readership Bogged Down—reported in the Chicago Tribune
9% of Internet users read blogs
66% have never read a blog in their life
Bottom line is more people are doing more of the same thing:   email, shopping, booking travel.   Not blogging.

According to Technorati, a new blog is created every second of every day….About 75,000 a day.

Susan raises the quesiton:   If a blog is not updated regularly, is it really a blog?

Emory has been talking about setting up a blog since 2003.   2004 they created a blog for their academic area.   Hoped to create a dialogue of best practices and lessons learned.

Emory blog questions:
Who is the intended audience?
What does the library hope the users will get out of the blog?

A year later, they still don’t have the answers.   Finally, one question did not have an answer:   Did the community really want a blog?

Queried senior faculty to millenials about what blogs were.   Lots of confusion about what a blog was.   Came to the conclusion that the librarians wanted to create a blog.   Their reasons were primarily based on their own interests (newness, blogs are cool, blogs will make us cutting edge).

Modeling the assement of blogs, by asking what kind of information the patrons currently were not getting.

Have not created a blog?   Still studying the issues.   Still looking at a blog as a knowledge management tool.

Clara Hudson

Slides are available in the preceedings, as she only had five minutes to present.
“Feel like a fraud, because she is not really a blogger.”

Started a blog to communicate with committee members.   Had a mixed reaction.

All of her blogs are internal, closed blogs.   A community of communication.

Has taken blogs into the classroom.   Has taught computer students and other folks about blogs and blogging.   Ethics of blogging is something that she focuses on.   A lot of students already are using things like blogs—Facebook and MySpace.   So blogs are second nature to a lot of them.

Using blogs to teach off of   is a lot easier than handouts.   Notes are on the web.   Take the tool into the classroom as a very effective teaching tool.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

CIL: Wikis in Action

Binghampton and Stony Brook are both using blogs for internal communication. Both discussed how a wiki can be used to facilitate internal communicaiton. Both groups mentioned the need for getting staff buyin, as well as the need for having a supportive systems staff.

Binghampton talked a good deal about their training model for their staff wiki. They incorporated hands-on training with staff to train users how to use the wiki as well as add and edit content. Both groups talked about the need to create a shell, or add content before turing the wikis over to the general user community. This is good advice, as an empty wiki may be confusing to a new user, perhaps evening discouraging them to add content.

The main thing that I learned, and that I need to implement, is a sandbox on my Biz Wiki. The sandbox enables those not familiar with a wiki to play and become familiar with a wiki without the worry of messing up the content. Perhaps with a sandbox, users would be more willing to learn how to use the wiki, thereby getting others to contribute to the resource.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

Computers in Libraries 2006

It’s 10:00, and I’m in my hotel room. I’m exhausted, as it was a very full day. Wireless access for bloggers at the conference was not working quite right, so I took notes in NoteTab Light. The posts that follow are the notes that I took. I’m a little too fatigued at the moment to do much cleanup of the notes in the following posts, but I’ll try to go back and clean the posts up (and offer additional commentary) as I have time. Thus far, I’m really enjoying the conference, and am learning quite a bit that I hope to implement in my library.

There are numerous other bloggers at the CIL conference.   Take a look at the list on the CIL website to find other blogs to read.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

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