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!

ALA, so far

ALA snuck up on me this year, despite falling later on the calendar. This year is also a big one for me, as I had a pre-conference, discussion group, and a book-signing on my calendar.

Kaeley McMahan (my pre-conference co-presenter) and I flew in and are rooming together. It’s a first for me to have planned to actually travel with someone to Annual and has been a lot of fun. We ran into some colleagues at the airport, so we had a small party of of folks to help make sure we all made it to our final destination. Once in town we checked in to the hotel and conference, walked around a bit, and practiced for our pre-conference.


And we practiced some more Friday morning before grabbing a quick lunch and heading over the the pre-conference hotel. Our topic was Instructional Design for Librarians and we tried our best to model what we were teaching. We had a full house (we think 53) and the three and a half hours went by more quickly than we thought they might. The group was great and we got very positive feedback, which was really nice.

Afterwards we headed to the LITA Happy Hour. I saw a few familiar ALA faces, but Kaeley and I mostly unwound with our colleague Susan Smith. I’m hoping to get to connect with folks more when I’m back to my normal self on Saturday. We headed out from the LITA Happy Hour, had a leisurely dinner on the river, and came back for a fairly early night.

This morning was a big LITA day for me, mostly in the same hotel. The LITA Joint Chairs committee met where I was able to catch up with a few folks and make sure the Distance Learning Interest Group had all its paperwork in for renewal. I really enjoy being present at that table.

After that, I headed upstairs for the Distance Learning Interest Group where Lauren Ray and I facilitated a 90 minute discussion on distance learning technologies. It went well and I bet we could have kept talking for much longer if we all weren’t scheduled for other things.

Next up, my first physical BIGWIG meeting. I’ve always had conflicts, and am excited to be able to actually be there this year. Tonight is the ProQuest reception and the Scholarship Bash. Hope to see some of you there!

ALA/LITA Elections

take by lakelandlocal

take by lakelandlocal

hi gang.

It’s that time of year again: ALA Elections! Any ALA member should get their ballot information this week, between March 17 and 19.  If you’re interested in the direction the association takes, and an ALA member, please remember to vote.  If you’re also a LITA member, please keep reading.

I believe in the importance of professional organizations. I believe ALA is in a good position to do good things for libraries and their staff. I believe that if ALA doesn’t change, and quickly, they will lose membership as people turn to other options. If that happens, we will have lost a powerful tool for the profession.

ALA is too mammoth to change much at the largest levels without a grassroots change from the membership. Having been a member of and observed many parts of ALA, I believe this change can best come from LITA. LITA gave rise to the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase and the Top Technology Trends panels.  LITA has innovative and enthusiastic members who work to adapt the organization for today’s world. LITA has connected me with colleagues who I respect and learn a lot from. With the right leadership, LITA can demonstrate how associations can stay relevant to their users, and can be a role model for its parent, ALA.

I’d like to offer LITA members my personal endorsement of the following candidates:

  • LITA President:  Karen Starr
    From her personal statement: “Creative change comes with long term investment, commitment, and patience. Every 10 years of the last 30, the library field has passed a milestone in its use of technology [...] Now we are involved with the digital world [...] The innovators and leaders of tomorrow are the LITA members of today. It is refreshing to work with a dynamic group on the national level who care, who want to define that future and who come together to work on what the big picture should look like. I look forward to the opportunity to work with LITA’s members to collaboratively implement the vision that sustains our country’s 21st century information infrastructure.”
  • LITA Director-at-Large:  Aaron Dobbs
    Aaron and I have crossed paths a number of times, both online and at conferences. I have always found him to be friendly, supportive, and fair, and he is a role model for transparency within ALA. From his personal statement: “As an advocate for LITA members, libraries, and library technology admins and users, I will move forward efforts re-thinking and improving how LITA disseminates our technology savvy [...] LITA should inform ALA’s internal debate by keeping the Association aware of how technologies in use today could be affected, depending on the resolution of these policy debates.”
  • LITA Director-at-Large: Maurice York
    I have met Maurice at a few ALA Conferences, and have always been impressed with his professionalism and focused attention on how to get things done. From his personal statement: “[...] I believe that LITA is positioned to represent the potential of a responsive and flexible professional organization to play an important role in shaping the profession at this critical turning point. My exposure to a wide variety of the aspects of LITA that make it hum–the interest groups, the program planning, the committees, the administrative and procedural concerns–has prepared me to join in the governance of the organization and take an active role in promoting these principles.”

I am hopeful that LITA can continue to offer cutting edge services to its users, demonstrate how technology can easily and practically be used for professional associations, and be a resource for all those interested in today’s library technologies. I believe that the three individuals above are the best for that job.

Thanks for reading and considering voting for these three candidates.

This endorsement represents my personal opinion and is in no way reflective of any committee, interest group, or other unit of LITA or ALA.