Top 10 A-HA’s at Computers in Libraries

The good side of conferences is gettng to meet Web 2.0 friends in real life and having the chance to learn and network with like-minded people. The bad side is the pile of work waiting for you (in my case at work, home, and school).

So in that spirit this will be quick list of 10 take-aways or as trainers call them a-ha moments from CIL2009. These are random thoughts in no particular order.

  1. Book ahead. Aim for a direct flight. Avoid flying through Atlanta. It’s about 400 miles from Charlotte to DC – a 6.5 hour drive. I waited until a week before the conference to book my flight and could not get a direct flight for under $1,000. Instead I booked a super cheap flight from Charlotte to Atlanta to DC. My total travel time on the way to CIL, 12 hours. Total travel time on the way home, 10 hours.
    Atlanta Airport Madness
  2. Trust your instincts. Insect. Crawling. Food. Denial. Bill. That’s all I’m going to say.
  3. Arrive early. If you are live blogging, arrive to sessions early to grab a spot in the front at the bloggers’ table. Otherwise you will be balancing a laptop in your lap.
  4. Speakers choose your content wisely. CIL sessions are mostly short 45 minutes sessions with several speakers. This gives each speaker a short amount of time to cover his or her material. This was a new concept for me, but as a speaker it forces you to share only the most important pieces of your content. See the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule to learn more.
  5. Attendees don’t be afraid to change sessions. If you go to a session and it turns out for any reason not to be what you expected or need, leave. Don’t feel bad. You won’t hurt the speaker’s feelings. This is your conference. Get what you need. Learn something.
  6. Speakers be prepared for people to leave. It is hard as a presenter to see people leave. But remember that it has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. People have a variety of reasons for leaving. Don’t let it throw you off course and whatever you do don’t call people out for leaving.
  7. Monitor the back channel. You’ll get feedback on sessions as well as content, find out who is meeting where, what restaurants are the best. Twitter is a great tool for learning as well as socializing.
  8. Take a break. If you try to attend every session possible you’re going to burn out. Take a break. Plan ahead for some downtime between sessions.
  9. Visit the vendors. If CIL is anything like other conferences, the vendors pay to be there and help fund the conference. Visit the vendors. Talk to them. Don’t just visit them for the schwag. You may learn about a great new product or learn about features you didn’t know about.
    Library Thing
  10. Last but not least, take advantage of the unconferences within the conference. CarpetCon, BarCon, LobbyCon, TableCon. This is where the transfer of learning takes place as participants share what they learned in the sessions as well as share information about how things work in their libraries. The best way to describe it is to think of summer camp except staying in touch is much easier with Web 2.0 tools.
    More T is for Training

What were your A-HA moments? Please share in the comments.

Learning Solutions Through Technology

Below are the slides from our presentation this morning at Computers in Libraries. This was a really fun session and we had a great crowd. If you were there and have thoughts, comments, or questions please let me know!

Innovative Services & Practices

I’ve come full circle this afternoon by coming back to the Cultivating Innovation & Change track. This late afternoon session on Innovative Services & Practices is being presented by John Blyberg, Gretchen Hams, Sarah Ludwig, Kate Sheehan from the Darien Library. Serve community of 20-20K people.

John kicked things off.

Libraries have not been preparing for the future in a way that is sustainable. Traditional library services misaligned with needs of the users. Took services apart and reassembled to meet needs of the users. “Delete” the reference desk.

Sometimes we fail with innovation. That’s ok.

We have to adapt and be willing to adapt.

Innovate. Fail. Adapt.

Users do not see drastic change they see us responding to their needs.

If you build change and innovation into your culture your staff and users will come to expect it.


Gretchen – Children’s Librarian

Children’s librarians don’t always get a seat at the innovation table.

Picture books start with QJ. We’re asking customers to assume this knowledge.

Reorganized picture books and used color coded labels to empower browsers and searchers.

People come to the library as a 3rd place – especially in the winter to get out and socialize.

Just putting computers in the children’s room is not good enough.We need to find ways for them to collaborate.

Story time should not be one way. Kids should participate.

Examples of innovation: kids giving tours of the library, signs made by kids.

We’ve been missing a special demographic by focusing on only the kids and not their parents who don’t always know about adult services available.

Sarah – Teen and Technology Librarian

Teen room does not have a service desk

Teen space has all glass walls to see what is going on from outside

Trust teens with their space. If you give them the trust they will respect the space.

All furniture is movable.

Teens can move it where ever they want and whenever they want.

Let them make it their own!

Gaming – you should be doing it if you are serving teens.

DPL does not program around it. Just leave it open for them to use as they want.

Use tools to reach teens – Facebook.

If working with teens it is not appropriate to use a personal Facebook page. Need to have a professional teen librarian appearance. Do not friend coworkers or other adults. Only teens.

Kate – Reference

Reference is dead. Roving.

Long term wanted to move to 1 on 1 reference.

Meet people at their need without being invasive.

Allow people to browse independently.

When you change your space you have more space.

Reference desk was scary! Now a small curvy table.

Put 300 and 600 personal finance together.

If you rove you need a wireless phone.

We are able to do a lot of reference because we are not doing computer sign ups and tech support and other things.

Most important tool has been name tags.

Reorganizing is like weeding. Permanent upkeep. Constantly ask why you are doing this. Reassess.

You might not get a lot of positive feedback. The happy users will go along their way. The unhappy ones will complain the loudest.

“We have all changed our shoes. We no longer wear heels, but we all have great legs.” This is the best quote of the conference! This session really hit home with me as my own library is moving toward a similar service model.

Evaluating, Recommending, & Justifying 2.0 Tools

Mid-afternoon session on the Social Software track Evaluating, Recommending, & Justifying 2.0 Tools by Marydee Ojala editor of ONLINE Magazine.

This is a totally packed house! People standing outside the door.

New Technologies

  • Everything x2.0(empowerment, sharing, communication, and unifying themes)
  • Social networking/software (collaboration is a unifying theme)

Implications for Research

Magazines and newspapers add info to sites that don’t show up in archives

Mashups of 911 calls in Indy. How do you search through these?

What is a publication? What is saved? What are we paying for with premium content?

Social Media for Research

  • LinkedIn

The “Social” of Social Media

Is social media becoming more traditional? Or is traditional media becoming more social?

Should you friend your boss? Should you friend your employees? Good questions…not all social networks are the same or have the same purpose.

Separation of work versus personal life/space on social networks.

  • Would you Super Poke your boss?
  • Would you throw something at a customer?
  • I’m going to talk to you but don’t talk back to me. Is that social?
  • What do your customers say about you on the back channel?

Enterprise Social Search Tools

  • IBM introduced software for enterprise mashups
  • Yammer
  • Jive
  • SharePoint
  • Vignette

Evaluating Social Software

  • What problem does it solve?
  • What is the best solution to this problem?
  • Only then do you look at products to solve the problem (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Who owns data you put up on Facebook?

Common objections

  • Wastes time
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Opens us up for security violations
  • Employees could give away corporate secrets
  • Fad
  • What about Sarbanes Oxley?

Many of these are management issues not technology issues.

These Aren’t Trivial

  • Don’t be quick to brand people Luddites
  • Some of these are real and serious concerns
  • Some of them are deal killers
  • Some aren’t
  • You need to know the difference and to be able to explain the difference
  • Never say “Yes, but” instead say “Yes, and.” But = no to the listener

Business Cases

  • Need to align with organization’s goals
  • Understand decision making process
  • Build a case built on outcomes
  • Deflect criticisms before the are voiced
  • Anecdotes or statistics? Tailor to your audience
  • Do research
  • Ground business case in realities of current situation
  • Free can still have a cost (time to maintain, install)
  • Justified based on…? ROI or non-monetary benefits

Business Cases in Short

  • What problem does it solve?
  • How to solve the problem?
  • What are the benefits?

Example of objection to wikis: CIA has its own wiki called Intellipedia

Web 2.x Training for Customers & Staff

This afternoon’s session is also in the Social Software Track. Presenting are my own social network friends: Beth Tribe, Michael Sauers, and Bobbi Newman.

CIL 032

Beth up first talking about how to know if your staff are using Web 2.0. Hint: they may not know it is called Web 2.0.

Word of mouth class advertising is “golden.”

Reach out through Web 2.0 tools as well.

Have fun with training. Bring chocolate. Beth known for chocolate 🙂

Michael next talking about Nebraska Learn’s 2.0.

Don’t make assumptions. The older folks may understand technology better than than the younger folks.

If you have not done 23 things you need to do this program.


For training…applied for and received grant for mobile training lab. 16 laptops and a cart to take to branches for staff and community for public training.

Summed up by Aaron Schmidt who said training users on Web 2.0 is essential to our democracy.