In October, I traveled across half the country and attended the Internet Librarian conference in Monterrey, California. It was my manager’s idea, and I was thrilled for the opportunity. I was not anticipating learning something in every single session I attended.
This conference was a learning experience for me – right down to the break time. Some days they had three hour long breaks throughout the conference time. It was a great opportunity to take advantage of the sights and temperature of California.
The conference was broken up into five tracks:
TRACK A – SEARCH & DISCOVERY
Search and discovery are at the core of what libraries do and help others to do. Get the latest tips and strategies to deal with information overload, fake news, and focused research, as well as the new or unexplored features of search engines-all from our information industry experts!
TRACK B – UX & WEB PRESENCE
Positive user experience (UX), especially in our digital world, is critical for all organizations and communities. In the competitive digital landscape, libraries need to be at the top of their game, from designing their web presence for the future, learning from other’s experience, and using user-centered design (UCD) and appealing colors. Hear from our speakers and get lots of insights, strategies, and tips for making an impact with your community!!
TRACK C – CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT: STRATEGIES & PRACTICES
Being aligned with and critical to our communities is the life strategy for libraries. This track focuses on the strategies and practices of successful libraries which are making an impact on their communities, including partnering with social agencies and dealing with community issues; bringing fun,games, and security to youth and other segments of our communities;supporting long-distance book clubs; and more.
TRACK D – MODELS FOR LIBRARY SUCCESS
Successful libraries are fast realizing and taking advantage of the different strengths of community partners in their area. From private/public partnerships in Japan, new roles and services in Denmark, and library associations working together for a stronger voice to academic libraries working with community youth and public and school libraries working together, libraries are experimenting with many innovative and creative partnerships. Get tips and ideas here!
TRACK E – INTERNET@SCHOOLS
For DAY 1 of the K-12 focused Internet@Schools track, topics include Future Ready librarians, emerging literacies that need addressing, virtual reality, OER and how to generate new ideas. For Day 2 of the K-12 focused Internet@Schools track, learn about storytelling with video, multimedia tech tools, 1:1 technology and libraries, and how to build critical thinking. Day 3 Smart Community Partnerships Our communities continue to evolve at an incredibly fast pace, and we have to develop key roles and practices to continue to thrive and have an impact. We are definitely stronger together, and our series of speakers in this track indicate the way forward.
This does not include the educational social meetings afterward. I can only report on what I attended, but it’s still a lot! I focused on things that were relevant to my job and my overall goals for where I want my library to go. There were definitely trends of information that came through all of the sessions I went to.
Digital citizenship was a common phrase mentioned at many of the sessions. If you’re not completely familiar, digital citizenship can be summed up as how to be a good person online, and how to be safe on the internet. Someone shared a great source in one of their talks: 7hlibrary.org/critdigcit, along with the great tip for teaching digital citizenship to kids. Teach the kids to start following the money for motivation and purpose of the information shared. I also learned a fun fact that I never noticed before. Apparently, YouTube’s autoplay continuously gets more extreme with their new suggestions, whether that be more vulgar with language or explicit graphic messages. It’s good to know when children camp on the site listening to music or watching their web series.
I also got a different view of how other libraries operate. I learned about libraries successfully removing their fine system, which is common but we’re not there yet. I also heard about libraries that offer a universal check out period, regardless of what they borrowed, which sounds glorious to me. No more “how long do we get this” and having to remember all the different stipulations. What really intrigued me was topic-based non fiction shelving. This is something milling about in our department. As effective as the dewey decimal system is, it’s not completely intuitive. There are some controversies (religions and myths), and some hard to shelve (computers, internet) sections that go out of date as soon as they hit the shelves. I was originally worried if we made it too easy for people to find things, will they need us? I know that’s not healthy thinking, but the thought was there. It has definitely helped out circulation, and will be more in tune with our picture book section which is also shelved by genre.
I went to an interesting session led by the librarians at Los Angeles Public Library. They had an amazing opportunity with a large blank portion of their wall. They decided to add a giant projector screen and opt to show not only promotional slides and videos, but also conversation sparking videos, like a microscopic chemical reaction, and b reel of a driving background used in old movies that conveniently featured the library. Unfortunately, we’re not lucky enough to have old video footage of the library, but we do have video screens throughout the library, and their advice about the importance of moving pictures to grab the viewer’s’ attention more so than stagnant slides really inspired me.
Naturally, new trends were also talked about. I met the Nao robot.
This robot needed extensive (aka beyond my scratch knowledge) coding to do any of its commands, but it might be worth making a high school coding class or club make the commands, turning it into an inter-generational program. It goes without saying that this cool bot would be a great draw to the library, but can your staff handle it? I’m not ready for it over here… yet. The drone trend is more my speed. One library had a drone flying club meet early Friday mornings. More impressively, they took an unused space in the basement of their building, installed a giant fence/cage, and called it the thunder dome for winter flying. While we don’t have the real estate here, it’s an amazing idea.
There was another budding trend that I really want to start at our library: a BEEHIVE! It’s like an ant farm, but way cooler. I’ve seen them in some nature centers – the little indoor box or house, sometimes they have a plexiglass side so you can see the hive. Then, there’s a tube that leads outside. Since the conference, I’ve looked into the possibility of bringing one to my library. The presenters claimed there were a lot of grants available to get this going, but I haven’t found one yet. I talked to my local naturalist about their indoor beehive. You need to recruit a willing apiarist to help set up and manage your hive. It looks like there’s an apiarist shortage near me, but if you’re interested, go for it!
Of course, I had to check in on some talks of the future of libraries. A great way to find the next big thing in libraries is to read articles. You can subscribe to RSS feeds, or email updates. One session I went to had a great anthology of sites to follow. The session that was most inspiring was an impromptu substitution by Brian Pichman. He spoke of remodeling an entire library with a budget of $125,000. If that’s not impressive enough, he spoke of molding libraries after the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. I think this is a great direction for all libraries to continue upon.
I may have eaten my weight in lemon sugar crepes, but I left so incredibly inspired. I don’t know if I can find it in my heart to spend that much library money to attend again, but if you or your job is financially able to attend this conference, I would strongly consider it.