A Midwinter Summary

Cross posted at my work’s professional development blog.

I typically take lots of conference photos.... it turns out that I didnt do that so much this time!

I typically take lots of conference photos.... it turns out that I didn't do that so much this time!

This was a fun ALA for me, though I didn’t get (or stay) out as much as I typically do.  Little boy Borwick is already making his presence known in the form of hijacking my schedule for resting. :) I tried to pick activities wisely, and I still wanted to see as many folks as I could, since I’ll miss this Annual. Midwinter was my ALA fix for the year!!

I had a lovely time rooming with former colleague Elizabeth Novicki. She’s been in her new job for a semester now so it was nice to hear how she was doing, what life is like in her new job, and to generally catch up.

Boston is one of my favorite cities (my favorite on the East Coast), so it was nice to have an excuse to get up there for a little bit. I’d typically fill every spare second with exploring the city, but I tried to take it a bit easier on this trip… hence the one photo (on the left) that I took on my iphone the entire time. That was at Tealuxe, one of my favorite hangouts in the city.

But really, Midwinter is about the meetings, and that is why I was there and what I spent a majority of my time with, so here’s the wrap-up:


Emerging Leaders Meeting

I was part of the second EL class, and from that experience I knew the program is a valuable one, but also one that could use improvement. Luckily, this year I was asked to co-mentor Group P, meaning I’ll be able to directly work with five emerging leaders and–hopefully–help make their experience a good one.

So, on Friday, I met with the group over a long lunch, along with my co-mentor. We were able to share why LITA was interested in sponsoring this project, what work had already been done in this area, and learn what plans they were already making.  In addition to being available to the group, I hope to be able to help them connect with LITA leaders, get them access to groups and resources that will help them with their project, and help them understand LITA as an organization and how it fits into the larger ALA. It’ll be a fun six months!

LITA Happy Hour

One of the first events for LITA members at most conferences is LITA Happy Hour. This is a chance to catch up with folks, see what others are up to, and plan for some of the meetings that will be going on over the next few days. It was especially good to see some folks that I had been working with virtually for the past six months.


Committee and Interest Group Chairs Meeting

I have really enjoyed going to the LITA Comm and IG Chair meetings for the past few years. It’s nice to be in the room with the LITA leadership and understand what the year is shaping up to be the big issues for the organization. However, this was my last one (at least for a while). I have been chairing the Distance Learning Interest Group for LITA, but passed off the torch to Chad Haefele.  He and Lauren Ray will do a terrific job of shepherding the group through its next years.  And since I won’t be chair, I won’t be at this meeting.

The topics of this chairs’ meetings focused on Forum, programming,  and communication throughout the organization.  Not coincidentally, this is the very issue that the folks in Emerging Leader Group P are working on, so hopefully we’ll see some major progress in this area over the next year.

Distance Learning Interest Group

And, just as with the last meeting, this was one of passing the torch. Chad really lead the meeting and I was mostly there to take minutes and help as needed. It was nice to see Susan Sharpless Smith and former colleague Debbie Nolan in the crowd!

It was a good discussion group with over 30 people in the room. We covered a lot of topics, which I’ll report in greater detail over in the group’s ALA Connect space in the next day or two.

When I first got started with this group, some of the conversation was distance learning specific: issues of licensing, outreach, library instruction, etc. Then, it became more about instructional technology. Distance learning seemed to be mostly applicable to everyone as local students seem to want to have the same access and services as distance ones. We even had programming around if distance learning was even worth separating out at this point.  Now, the pendulum might be headed back in the same direction. Many participants came to the group saying their institutions were just getting started with distance learning and they were coming to learn what it was they should be playing attention to within that specific aspect of librarianship.

Though I’m officially not the chair anymore, but I anticipate continuing to play a role with it as the chairs as they get used to their new role. And I suspect I’ll continue to learn things that will be relevant to WFU as well.


LibraryThing, an excellent social catalog, hosted a happy hour on Saturday evening. Some of the crowd overlapped with LITA, but I also met several people I’ve followed for years online but hadn’t yet met in person. LibraryThing, by the way, is totally awesome. There is even a way to pull the social information into library catalogs, adding many of the things that people are coming to expect. It’s a good company, too. Full disclosure: I have a lifetime membership for my personal collection. :)


Top Tech Trends

Susan blogged it for our work blog, there’s a pretty thorough accounting of it on the LITA Blog,  and I’ve written up my topic, so I’ll talk about my experience as a panelist in this space.

I was completely honored and surprised to be included in this group. Top Tech Trends, or TTT, is (I think) the only program that I have attended at every ALA I’ve been to. I’m always impressed with who they have on the panel and what they have to say. It never occurred to me that I might be on the slate at some point. So, it was especially meaningful for me. I had a good time on it and enjoyed the conversation… though I think that we probably could have filled the time with any one of the topics we addressed.

When planning the session, we each gave the committee a slate of possible topics and they selected one for each of us to focus on.  We drew numbers to see what order we’d go in, and luckily I was fourth.  (I like being towards the middle in things like this.) The panel was structured so that each person presented their topic for 4-5 minutes, then we had 4-5 minutes of discussion from the other panelists. After we each presented a trend, we all talked about various aspects of ebooks. My topic was Augmented Reality, and as you might guess, I approached it from an educational perspective. As mentioned above, I have a post on this over on my blog.

There were really great comments and kind remarks in Twitter, so I feel good about my participation. And I am especially glad to have had this opportunity, especially with this panel of folks.

Web Coordinating Committee

Following Top Tech Trends, I had a Web Coordinating Committee meeting for LITA. This committee is the one that works on LITA’s website. A new LITA site is in the works, based on the ALA design. My role with the committee is to co-mentor the Emerging Leaders group. And my involvement in this meeting, again as you might guess, was to advocate the inclusion of multimedia/video.


The next meeting on tap was BIGWIG. This is the experimental arm of LITA. They were the first ones to play with blogs and wikis in LITA (hence the name: Blogs, Interactive Groupware, and Wikis Interest Group). However, this type of social software has emerged and is no longer experimental. The group made a formal recommendation to the Board to transition these tools to either the Web Coordinating Committee or the Publications one. With this, the group also discussed changing the name so that it would no longer be an acronym.

The new business was to talk  about how to do online conference in parallel with real life ones. ACRL and other groups do a stellar job with this, so we talked about what LITA could bring to the table and how we might be able to provide something similar but with a LITA twist.

OCLC Blog Salon

I really enjoy the OCLC Blog Salon. This year it was officially a Twitter salon as well. They had fun badges; instead of “My name is” the nametags said “My blog is…” and “My twitter username is…” :)  I remember a few years ago I was totally intimidated to show up to this, but after just a few short years of involvement, I felt like it was another reunion. It’s really fun to get to see the faces behind the blogs and Twitter usernames that I see every day, and good to catch up with some of the people I hadn’t yet seen at this Midwinter.


LITA Town Hall

My conference concluded with the LITA Town Hall meeting. They always have good food, and for as long as I have been there they have used this time to actively seek out member perspectives for organizational planning purposes.  This year was about the strategic plan, which was especially nice for me as I had only heard about it in the abstract up until that point. The plan was broken up into topics, and each table addressed a different one. Even though that was the case, there were clear themes that crossed each table. Hopefully the board will be able to do some good work with the plan based on the feedback!

So that was my ALA. Throw in some lovely dinners with people I only see at ALA conferences, a pot of tea at Tealuxe with a friend, and one outing to do a little bit of exploration, and it was a busy but really good time! I’m sad to miss seeing everyone/participating in things at Annual, but I plan to be active online a bunch between now and then, and hopefully I’ll be able to continue with some of this work next year! Thanks to everyone I saw that made it such a great time!

Lauren’s Top Tech Trend

Trendsters Jason Griffey and Lauren Pressley

Trendsters Jason Griffey and Lauren Pressley

Now that Top Tech Trends has happened, I can post about my trend. But before I get to that, I just want to say that I was especially honored to be part of a panel that included Amanda Etches-Johnson, Jason Griffey, David Walker, and Joe Murphy. It was a great group and I really enjoyed the conversation. But without anymore waiting, here’s my topic. There’s a lot of interesting potential here, but with limited time, this is what I covered:

Augmented Reality


  • The first augmented reality applications were used in the 60s or 70s.
  • The term “Augmented Reality” has been around since 1990.
  • AR is the idea of blending virtual data/information with what you see in the real world.
  • Mixed reality; conventionally in real-time
  • One definition: is both interactive and in real time, combines the real and virtual, and (sometimes) is displayed in 3D
  • Could think of it as: somewhere on the spectrum between the real environment and the virtual environment
  • Today: generally on smart mobile devices that use GPS, compass, and (possibly) image recognition technologies


tweets in my library

tweets in my library

  • Easiest to visualize
    • First  down lines in football
    • Colored trail behind hockey pucks
  • Location aware maps
  • Visual interfaces
    • Layar browser
    • Yelp social review site
    • Wikitude (overlays information from Wikipedia and other sources)
    • Twitter clients such as TwitARound
    • Acrossair (shows Twitter, bars, FedEx, wikis, photos, Yelp , etc)
    • A few AR games exist

2010 Horizon Report

  • Adoption 2-3 years out
  • Educational strengths: example, an augmented-reality application could overlay details about how a historical place looked during different eras in history.
  • Enables powerful contextual, situational learning experiences
  • Enables serendipitous exploration and discovery
  • Still not widely accessible
  • Today AR exists mostly for entertainment and marketing.

Potential For Libraries

  • NCSU’s WolfWalk: overlaying digital collections with map of campus
  • Can envision an application for inside the building, revealing “hidden” parts of the collection (both highlighting things on the shelves as well as showing where eresources would be found)
  • Library tour information: for users who need to understand what they can do at a desk once it’s closed or if they don’t want to ask if they’re not sure
  • Information literacy tutorials at the location where they might be needed (for example, using call numbers, or how to select the most useful article in the current periodicals room)
  • Really making a connection between the physical library as place and the virtual library on the web

Final Topic

We also talked about ebook readers. The topic I addressed was ownership vs. leasing content. I’m fairly certain we won’t have dedicated readers in the relatively near future (I like “relatively” here because it’s such a vague term), but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome in the meanwhile:

  • eInk is flat-out easier on the eyes to read than computer/iphone screens.
  • Battery life for eink displays is outstanding compared to most smartphones and laptops.
  • Books, as they are currently written, are designed to be an individual experience between the reader and the author.

Until some, or all, of these things change, I think there will be market space for ereaders. And during that time (and even after) I really think the idea of ownership is an important one. People have expectations about what they can do with their books, and ebooks, for the most part, do not allow the customer to do the thing they’re used to doing (such as loaning or selling). Though, all that aside, I’m totally psyched about my Nook that is arriving any day now. Part of the reason I am in the Nook camp? You can check out books from Overdrive and it has a model of “ownership” that is closer to what we typically think of.  I’m sure there will be many forthcoming blog posts on this topic!

So, that was my participation!! Thanks to those who came out. I really had a great time!

Update (1/25/10): In case you’re interested, Trendsters Amanda and Jason posted about their trends, too.

Midwinter Meeting: Distance Learning Interest Group

FYI Folks:

Saturday, 1/16 10:30am-12pm, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room

The LITA Distance Learning Interest Group will meet at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston to discuss current issues in distance learning such as:

  • eBook formats & features – eBooks might be a natural fit for distance learning, but what are the pros & cons of current providers of the titles?
  • What does ‘distance learning’ mean today?  -  In many ways a student off campus but just down the street has the same needs as a student hundreds of miles away, and in some cases they’re even in the same online class.  How does this change what distance learning librarians do?  What does it mean when many more librarians end up doing a little bit of DL work?
  • Using cloud-based collaborative tools with students – Is anyone doing this?  What tools could we be exploring?
  • Coordinating with professors who teach online classes – How can we best work with teachers of distance ed students to build library resources into a syllabus?
  • Student demand – What services are students asking from group members that we aren’t currently providing?  Even the most outlandish requests could be interesting if we can accomplish a small aspect of it.
  • Using video in distance learning – Is anyone doing this?  Something beyond screencasting – Video consultations or video blogging maybe?
  • Going where the users are – where are distance learning students spending their time online?  Is it worth our time & effort to try and provide service via Twitter, Facebook, or other online hangouts?

Feel free to bring your own topics & thoughts!

Future of DLIG:

  • What would you like to see from DLIG over the next six months?
  • How can we best use ALA Connect or a DLIG listserv to communicate?
  • What kind of programming would you like to see at future conferences?

Hope to see you there!