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ACRL 2009 Friday highlights

My first full conference day of ACRL has been long but filled with a lot of great stuff. I am going to give the condensed version with all the highlights.

Percolating the Power of Play: Sarah Cohen, Tim Miner, and Lauren Nishikawa presented on Information Literacy games they are creating. It was both well attended and an excellent presentation. I could sense the excitement in the room about what they were working on.  People also asked a lot of questions afterword.  It was a great session.

Poster Sessions: I really enjoy poster sessions because you can get great ideas by seeing what other people are doing. I enjoyed Carissa Tomlinson’s poster about making subject guides more interactive using widgets and other web 2.0 technologies.  It gave me some ideas.  I also like a poster that talked about on the street interviews with patrons about how they get and use information. It was a pretty neat idea.

Cyber Zed Shed (Pop Culture Multimedia for Instruction by L. Nedra Peterson): She discussed using different clips from High Fidelity, The Ring, and others as instruction tools. When students make an emotional connection with something (humor, fear, etc.) it aids in storing and recalling the information later. In addition, engaging multiple senses helps in info retention so video in addition to speaking is helpful for student learning. I really liked the idea of seeing information literacy in our everyday lives and pop culture and then bringing it into the classroom to start a conversation.

Face It! Reference Work and Politeness Theory Go Hand in Hand (A. Aldrich and C. Leibiger): This was a great presentation and I can’t wait to read the paper. Reference was related to politeness theory. What I took from this presentation was that it is not just about answering the question, but relating to the patron and communicating well with them in order to have a successful reference encounter. It is fascinating stuff and I encourage you to check out the paper.

You got to be kidding me. Librarian in the room (K. Lenn): A funny, honest conversation about freshman and how they relate to the library. The speaker’s contention was that we should not devote as much resources to freshman instruction because it is not that useful to them. Their minds are a thousand other places, but not the library.  They are trying to cope with time management and adjusting to college and the library can’t keep up with that. Spending less time in freshman classes or catching them in later years may be a better course of action.  It was a fascinating session and definitely could use more dialogue on the subject.

Keynote – Sherman Alexie: Alexie, who I (embarrassingly) never had even heard of about before the conference is a prolific, funny, and engaging speaker.  He read some of his poetry and had the crowd in stitches the whole time. But he also made you think about Indians and Americans, but mainly humans. We are trying to figure out “what is going on inside that persons head? What are they thinking? Why do they do what they do?” It is really us trying simply to connect with others, and in doing so we realize that we have so much in common. And when we’re trying to figure things out, our thesis always “goes to shit.” Whether it is research or life, when we think we have the answer, new information, surprises, and the unexpected is always thrown in shattering our previous assumptions. Life is an uncertain, messy jumble. I’m glad I was introduced to Alexie, his humor and his humanity.  He also talked about how he came on Colbert and owned him…enjoy:

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Drupal4Lib recap

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Last Friday I went to the Drupal4Lib camp in Darien, CT.  It was a wonderful conference and I am very appreciative to the Darien Library for hosting it.

There were people in attendance from all over. I talked to one gentleman who was from Sweden. And the skill levels of everyone ran the gamut from expert Drupal hackers to newbies.  I was near that lower level, though I have played with Drupal a lot and have at least a basic knowledge.

Because of the range of skill levels there were a lot of breakout sessions where people could go to more advanced or more basic talks.  It was very relaxed and people could come and go as they pleased.

During one session I decided to go on a tour of the library, and I am glad I did.  I got to see their RFID-robo-book-sorter and their Microsoft “Surface.” The library was state of the art and beautiful. If it was my public library I would spend all my time there.

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I got a few pretty good lessons and ideas out of the conference.  I realized that you can do just about anything you want with Drupal.  If you see something else on another website, there is a chance there is a module in Drupal that can simulate it.

In addition, Drupal has very fine grained user controls which would allow other staff members to edit the website and create and change content that is in their purview. I think this is a great benefit of using a CMS. It makes it easy for people with zero or minimal HTML knowledge to contribute to a common website.

I also liked an idea that John Blyberg discussed about using external websites like Flickr or Blip.tv as hosting sites. Instead of advertising that you are on Blip.tv you just use it to embed videos on your site without making a big deal about it.  I think that this idea could be very useful.  Often it is bypassing the social nature of these sites, but I can see the value of it.

I have also realized that I should not rush into getting a new website up and running. I want it to be everyone’s website, not just something that I put together. Other librarians have to use the website as well and their input and ideas are going to be crucial to its success.  I know that I have very strong opinions about the current website and a new website, but mine is not going to be the only opinion during a redesign.

I am getting excited about starting the redesign process and seeing the new site start taking shape. I know it will be a lot of work, but it will be a lot of fun too.