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Conference Report from ACRL

By Cory Lampert on April 5, 2007 8:46 AM | Permalink
I returned Monday, a bit run down, from the excitement of the ACRL Conference in Baltimore. This was my first time attending the conference and I found it to be very worthwhile and fun in both programming and in the networking/social opportunities. Here is a summary of the highlights: Thursday: I got an early start and registered in the morning so that I could avoid the rush prior to the Keynote Address and Opening Reception. The keynote speaker, Michael Eric Dyson kicked off a rather rousing afternoon and somehow managed to cover a wide range of social issues AND tie it all into why librarianship is a noble pursuit. It is always fun to see a speaker that is also capable of entertaining, so Dyson's Baptist preaching and hip-hop ad-libbing added a welcome bit of flavor to the presentation. After the presentation, I took a lap through the exhibits, talked to a few very persistant salesmen and had an over-priced glass of bad wine before heading out to a dinner meeting with a vendor. Since this is a summary of highlights, I will mention here that it is worth it to try the Maryland crab cakes, even if you aren't a huge seafood fan. They were great. Friday: I relocated to my hotel near Johns Hopkins in the morning and then met up with my co-presenter to hear John Waters speak at lunch and get prepared for our poster session. I have seen John Waters speak before and I am happy to report that he did not tone it down for the sake of the librarians or the fact that it was a keynote over lunch! We had a great turnout for the afternoon posters and I only felt a tiny bit mobbed. Our poster was titled: "Staying Afloat in Technology Tempests; Transforming New Librarians into Tech-Savvy Experts". We learned during the session, that even though we chose the "new librarian track" to target recent grads considering new technology-related positions, that we had tons of comments from "older/more seasoned" librarians dealing with the same issues. It seems there is a whole group of re-assigned librarians also working in digitization or as Web Services librarians, as well. Friday night I met up with some new friends and ran into some former colleagues. We had a nice dinner, some excellent local beer, and great conversations. Saturday: After recovering my voice from the poster session and all the chit-chatting at dinner, I headed to the conference to do, well, conference stuff. I saw the exhibits in more detail, and attended some information sessions. I saw a contributed paper on "The New Academic Library-Building Institutional Repositories to Support Changing Scholarly and Research Processes" by Tyler Walters of Georgia Tech. I was interested to learn that at Georgia Tech their repository support faculty/research scholarly communication, student intellectual output, learning objects, and digital research data sets. This trend towards new content in repositories is definitely one to keep in mind, since it raises the fundamental question of what type of content libraries should play a role in managing. I attended a roundtable at lunch, "Uncharted Waters: Academic Libraries' Role in Providing Digital Images for Research and Teaching" moderated by Carole Ann Fabian and Jessica McCullough from ARTstor. This was a fascinating discussion and very relevant to my work on our campus task force on images. There are some interesting developments being discussed to better integrate the sometimes unwieldy image collections built in CONTENTdm, offered through ARTstor, and described in a variety of standards. After sharing information with other institutions, I left hopeful that with open access standards in place, harvesting of metadata, and implementation of emerging VRA standards we can work through some of our remaining questions about creating an image repository for campus. In the afternoon, I went to a panel session on "Networking Across Campus: Collaborative Partnerships through Humanities Computing". This title did not intially catch my eye, but when I saw that the presenters were from the University of Nebraska I was excited to hear about how their digitization program has fostered collaboration. I came away with a real excitement for the ways that their students are interacting with primary (Special Collections) material and creating digital projects as an alternative to writing papers. I also felt the concept of "collaboration begets more collaboration" was particularly relevant to my work starting out here at UNLV. It is impossible not to mention the fabulous all-conference reception at the National Aquarium. This reception almost made me forget how expensive the conference was! I had a great time and was literally stared down by a huge and very toothy shark while attempting to make sense of a tricky CONTENTdm problem with a colleague. I would recommend ACRL as a conference because it is big enough that there is something for everyone, but small enough that I actually felt like I made some connections. It was great to reconnect with folks from library school, meet new contacts working on the same problems, and listen to some very exciting presentations from the experts.

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