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Conference Report from LITA Forum 2007

By Cory Lampert on October 9, 2007 10:40 AM | Permalink
This was the first LITA Forum I have attended and overall I found the size and programming of the conference to be good. There were two preconferences, which I did not attend, but I went to a variety of sessions that deserve to be highlighted here. DAY ONE Opening General Session: The Scientific and Social Challenges of Global Warming by Jeffrey Kiehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research Apparently LITA has a tradition of booking a local speaker to open the conference, and despite the gloomy subject this was an interesting talk. What made it special was that Mr. Kiehl not only spoke about the science of global warming, but also about the communication of the scientific data and how the way we present information can determine whether or not it has impact. He encouraged everyone in the audience to think about their own "personal global warming" story as a means of combating the apathy, numbness, and denial, that often meet scientific news on climate change. David and Goliath Take on Social Tools by Genny Engle and Michelle Boule This talk introduced the variety of social tools available and delved a bit into their popularity and potential library applications. I was pleased to note that UNLV is currently exploring (or has already implemented) most of these tools (IM chat, blogs, wikis, Facebook/MySpace, etc.) Maybe it is because we have already spent time on the subject, but at times it seems hard to imagine that anyone in the library world could still be oblivious to Web 2.0. Real World Metadata Management with the University of North Texas Libraries' Metadata Analysis Tool by Mark Phillips By far, one of the best sessions I attended! This talk centered around a custom tool that was created to perform maintenance, reporting functions, and other types of analysis of digital collections metadata. The tool was really great at providing multiple views of the metadata, which Mr. Phillips noted "is the key to analyzing metadata" (for everything from clean-up of spelling/punctuation to plural agreement and authority control). For instance, the metadata can be viewed in such forms as an A-Z list, by contributing institution, as a report/graph, or as word clouds. Queries could also be run to find null values in required metadata fields, which would definitely come in handy with the collections I administer. University of North Texas has rapidly grown their digital collections and with the help of tools like this, their metadata is equally as rich and valuable as the digital images. Great presentation. DAY TWO General Session:The Future is not out of Reach: Change, Library 2.0 and Emerging Trends by David Lee King of Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Mr. King was a very dynamic and exciting speaker, but I am afraid with all the time I have already spent on the subject of Web 2.0 that the "future" kind of seemed more like the present. Good presenter...less interesting topic. Podcast available! 5 Minute Madness This was one of my favorite sessions. Quick, interesting, and practical, 5 Minute Madness was a on-the-fly sign-up at the conference spontaneous session and each person had 5 minutes to cover their project/topic/or research. It was particularly interesting to hear about the need for a fast institutional repository following the Virgina Tech massacre to preserve the variety of gifts, letter, and tributes received. I also was introduced to two very creative tools (one for Easy Borrow- a single interface search for ILL and BYU's service of custom RSS feeds of new books). Lunch (BTW: LITA had really good food and dessert at lunchtime. Yum.) The Biodiversity Heritage Library Mass Digitization Project: A Grandeur in This View of Digital Libraries by Martin Kalfatovic and Suzanne Chernau Pilsk Excellent session! This was an session introducing the very large-scale, high-impact digitization project that the Smithsonian (and others) are conducting to create a digital library of biodiversity information recorded in taxonomies and historic indexes of species names. The BHL will eventually also form part of the Encyclopedia of Life. Basically, this is the kind of session that leaves you in awe of the sheer amount of work involved in a mass digitization project, but also leaves you feeling that there really is impact and usefulness in digitization. Fascinating. Facet Forward: Faceted Navigation of Federated Search Results for Cultural Heritage Materials by Danielle Cuniff Plumer, David Dorman, and Mark Phillips While this session focused on metadata harvesting and federated searching (which we are not currently doing) it was interesting to hear how Texas Heritage Online was handling the need to aggregate materials. Mr. Dorman also presented the open source solution that Index Data provides. Something worth looking into if you are working on this type of project. DAY THREE Breakfast: Breakfast burritos at the continental breakfast (I am in heaven!) Poster Sessions Well, because I was presenting my own poster session, I missed most of the others. There was one interesting poster on SFX usability, another on MySpace vs. Facebook (verdict: both!) and a very good poster by my table-neighbor on Converting Technophobes into Technophiles: Empowering Reluctant Library Staff (one example: forbid the phrase: "I'm not "techie" enough...") I also missed the last concurrent session that ran during the posters, but heard really good things about the User-Centered Research and Library Technology by David Lindahl and Nancy Fried Foster where usability studies were done with three different groups. One interesting idea was cutting apart the pieces of a library web site and having students piece it back together where they thought things should be. Food for thought. Closing Session In Our Cages With Golden Bars by Jeremy Frumkin of Oregon State University This was a very good closing session that summed up some very pertinent take-aways More can be found at The Digital Librarian (Jeremy Frumkin's blog):
  • we should move away from the "next generation catalog" and stop imposing library culture and terms on a service. Instead, we should look at it from a business perspective and a user perspective.
  • We need to think about the whole process from Discovery to Delivery because this is the main mission of libraries. People should be able to find in one click and have the material delivered to them in another click.
  • Mr. Frumkin also stressed the importance of a diversity of viewpoints and mentioned the Code4Lib scholarships that address this need
Podcast available! Handouts and presentation materials were provided on a flash drive, so if you would like more information on any of the session go to the LITA Blog or contact me for materials.

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