CIL 2010: post-conference thoughts

I should present more.

I should present more.

That’s what I have concluded at the end of this conference. There were a few sessions I was jazzed to see, and some others that surprised me, but for the most part, I found myself too often realizing that if I had done a bit of research on my own, I would have known about as much about a session topic as the presenters. Those tended to be the sessions in which I stuck around for the intro and then left, or looked at the slides in advance and decided to go to something else.

While I may be learning about a lot of new tech and ideas outside of the ITI conferences, there is nothing to replace the “lobbycon” aspect of theses events. The connections I have made with other folks who are as equally excited about pushing libraries forward is well worth the price of admission, in my humble opinion. ITI conferences are my equivalent of going to ALA, and very few folks I know talk about going to ALA for the presentations.

I may joke about the “beer track” at conferences, but the reality is that as much as I may advocate for virtual attendance and online communities, they can’t replace the connections (serendipity, perhaps?) of real-time, face-to-face interactions.

CIL 2010: Digitization Practices

Speakers: Deborah E. B Keller, Jody L. DeRidder, Amy Buckland, & Louise O’Neill

[I arrived late due to slow lunch service, so I missed the first half of this presentation.]

Louise O’Neill spoke about digitization at McGill University (Montreal, QC). The goal of the program is to make rare and unique items available to everyone and to the students & faculty of the university. They want to make the items both discoverable and deliverable through their catalog(ue).

They’re also making material available in hardcopy (Espresso Book Machine and/or OCR PDF), mainly public domain items or those with permission; thus making them available to the masses without damaging the originals. Items are selected by anticipated demand and uniqueness, and also priority is placed on items that will be used directly in research and instruction.

Amy Buckland shared some examples of collections/projects. They just bought a 3-D scanner to digitize realia, like their Olympic torch collection. All physical exhibits are digitized and made available online for those who may not be able to visit the library. They also put the digitized items in their Second Life locations as appropriate.

Their biggest challenge is copyright. The technical issues are what you may expect, but copyright is the biggest barrier they have to getting valuable research items off the dusty shelves and into spaces where they can and will be used.

CIL 2010: Productivity Tools

Speaker: Lynda Kellam & Beth Filar-Williams

Check out the presentation wiki for a list of the tools and such. I’ll just note the ones I really like or other commentary I might have. They’ve grouped them into three categories: tasks, notetaking, and scheduling.

The presenters are using Poll Everywhere to get audience input on which category to focus on first, as well as asking for hands for which one. They started with Tasks.

Things is awesome, but Mac/iPhone only. Without a cloud-based interface, it’s not accessible by any other OS. Based on Getting Things Done, the application helps you organize tasks based on contexts.

Todoist is cloud-based task tool. I just started using it myself because I wanted something that could let me add sub-task to tasks.

Remember the Milk is also cloud-based, and like Todoist, it has a mobile interface. Unlike Todoist, it has apps for Blackberry and Android as well as iPhone. Tasks can also be added by SMS. One complaint I had was not being able to see a list of everything due today or overdue in the main web interface (can see it in Gmail), but now I know how to create a saved search that shows overdue tasks (dueBefore:today) and tasks due today (due:today).

The presenters have lots of scheduling tools to share. I’ve heard of only one of them, Schedule Once. The presenters are most excited about jiffle, which pulls your Goolge Calendar availability along with your own selection of available times, and allows the user to request a meeting through the site, but only for the available times. This is really useful for students scheduling personal appointments with instruction librarians. If you’re not using GCal, there is likely a tool that will allow you to sync your calendar with a GCal account.

Cozi integrates calendars, photos, widgets, journals, tasks, and is more geared towards groups or families. It might be more friendly for folks who are not comfortable with disparate, more complicated tools.

They don’t have many notetaking tools listed (Google Docs, Evernote, & wikis). More folks were interested in Evernote. Personally, I just haven’t found a good way to integrate Evernote into my life/work, and I’m not interested in paying for the premium features until I have a reason to use it regularly. I like using the journal feature of Outlook for taking work-related notes, and I rarely need to note things for personal stuff beyond adding them to a task.

CIL 2010: Library Engagement Through Open Data

Speakers: Oleg Kreymer & Dan Lipcan

Library data is meaningless in and of itself – you need to interpret it to give it meaning. Piotr Adamczyk did much of the work for the presentation, but was not able to attend today due to a schedule conflict.

They created the visual dashboard for many reasons, including a desire to expose the large quantities of data they have collected and stored, but in a way that is interesting and explanatory. It’s also a handy PR tool for promoting the library to benefactors, and to administrators who are often not aware of the details of where and how the library is being effective and the trends in the library. Finally, the data can be targeted to the general public in ways that catch their attention.

The dashboard should also address assessment goals within the library. Data visualization allows us to identify and act upon anomalies. Some visualizations are complex, and you should be sensitive to how you present it.

The ILS is a great source of circulation/collections data. Other statistics can come from the data collected by various library departments, often in spreadsheet format. Google Analytics can capture search terms in catalog searches as well as site traffic data. Download/search statistics from eresources vendors can be massaged and turned into data visualizations.

The free tools they used included IMA Dashboard (local software, Drupal Profile) and IBM Many Eyes and Google Charts (cloud software). The IMA Dashboard takes snapshots of data and publishes it. It’s more of a PR tool.

Many Eyes is a hosted collection of data sets with visualization options. One thing I like was that they used Google Analytics to gather the search terms used on the website and presented that as a word cloud. You could probably do the same with the titles of the pages in a page hit report.

Google Chart Tools are visualizations created by Google and others, and uses Google Spreadsheets to store and retrieve the data. The motion charts are great for showing data moving over time.

Lessons learned… Get administrative support. Identify your target audience(s). Identify the stories you want to tell. Be prepared for spending a lot of time manipulating the data (make sure it’s worth the time). Use a shared repository for the data documents. Pull from data your colleagues are already harvesting. Try, try, and try again.

CIL 2010: The Power in Your Browser – LibX & Zotero

Speaker: Krista Godfrey

She isn’t going to show how to create LibX or Zotero access, but rather how to use them to create life-long learners. Rather than teaching students how to use proprietary tools like Refworks, teaching them tools they can use after graduation will help support their continued research needs.

LibX works in IE and Firefox. They are working on a Chrome version as well. It fits into the search and discovery modules in the research cycle. The toolbar connects to the library catalog and other tools, and right-click menu search options are available on any webpage.  It will also embed icons in places like Amazon that will link to catalog searches, and any page with a document identifier (DOI, ISSN) will now present that identifier as a link to the catalog search.

Zotero is only in Firefox, unfortunately. It’s a records management tool that allows you to collect, manage, cite, and share, which fill in the rest of the modules in the research cycle. It will collect anything, archive anything, and store any attached documents. You can add notes, tags, and enhance the metadata. The citation process works in Word, Open Office, and Google Docs, with a program similar to Write-N-Cite that can be done by dragging and dropping the citation where you want it to go.

One of the down-sides to Zotero when it first came out was that it lived only in one browser on one machine, but the new version comes with server space that you can sync your data to, which allows you to access your data on other browsers/machines. You can create groups and share documents within them, which would be great for a class project.

Why aren’t we teaching Zotero/LibX more? Well, partially because we’ve spent money on other stuff, and we tend to push those more. Also, we might be worried that if we give our users tools to access our content without going through our doors, they may never come back. But, it’s about creating life-long learners, and they won’t be coming through our doors when they graduate. So, we need to teach them tools like these.