There was so much great stuff at NELA this year, that instead of an overview of the conference I decided to post about each day. I had hoped to do it during the actual conference, which I realize now was completely unrealistic. So two days later, here's my rundown of day one.
The keynote address was delivered by R. David Lankes, director of the library science program at Syracuse University. He spoke about how recently there are a lot of little ideas - some examples were particular types of online services - but there haven't been any big ideas in a long time. He talked about 3 big ideas: innovation, participation, and democracy. He said that when you add up those three things, you have librarianship.
He reminded us that the mission of libraries is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in our communities. We work with our communities to determine what it means to "improve society" in that community. In terms of innovation and change, he says that what we've done in the past was important to get us here but it may not take us where we need to be in the future.
Although I didn't come out of this session with specific ideas, it was very inspirational and motivating and a good reminder of our big picture.
Social Media at the New York Public Library
Lauren Lampasone gave a great overview of the social media that NYPL uses, including blogs, twitter, facebook and some really cool crowdsourcing projects like menus.nypl.org and and maps.nypl.org.
Fun cpd23 note: she apparently used Prezi for her presentation and I thought it was very effective. It was interesting, well planned, and since it was about social media there were a lot of visuals including screen shots and video.
Some of her advice for posting in social media:
- Ask questions so people will respond
- People love quotes
- Have a social media policy.
- NYPL also has a crisis plan in case of a bad PR event.
- They have training for staff, ongoing support, even mini-conferences.
And of course they take reference questions via email, chat, text, twitter, anywhere!
Touch My Junk
Yes, it was called that. This was a panel discussion from NELA's ITS section about patrons bringing their own devices to the library asking for assistance. Do you touch their stuff or take a hands-off approach? There was, of course, disagreement among the panel. I'm more in the "talk the patron through it as THEY do the actual touching" camp.
The discussion moved in related areas, like: What defines a reference question? How much technology should we have to know? At what point do we become free tech support and how do you tell if you're crossing that line? There were some comments of the "why do we have to know this?" variety. As I have said before, I don't think we can decide what is and is not a reference question. This is our new reality. (Indeed, the conference theme was "Navigating the New Normal" and this absolutely spoke to that theme.)
Another cpd23 related note: there were positive reviews of Jing as a screencasting tool, as well as Screencast-o-matic, which does not need to be downloaded.
Takeaways and thoughts from this session:
- Make appointments for patrons who need more time-consuming help
- Staff should be able to do the things patrons can do in the library
- If the question involves library resources and/or information/digital literacy, it is in our purview and we should help
- One panel member says if there's a staff member who won't/can't learn technology he schedules himself on the desk with them for a few weeks so that when technology questions come up they can work on them together
- One panel member has created helpful handouts for patrons including one of keyboard shortcuts
- Various people mentioned having staff-only blogs or wikis to share tips and information
- One library had B&N come to the library to show patrons how to use devices
- Another library has an ongoing technology petting zoo, with various devices locked down but available to use
- I want staff competencies. We should have a list of things we should be able to do in our jobs, and resources to help learn those things. How can we provide good service to patrons if we can't even do the stuff they need help with?
Dinner banquet with author Frank Delaney
I've never read Frank Delaney's work but he was a great speaker. He talked a little bit about his books and mentioned that he'll never again sign a contract that requires his books to be a certain length. He spoke a lot about other authors and books, which I really enjoyed. He's doing an interesting project - every week he airs a podcast about one sentence in James Joyce's Ulysses, estimating that it will take something like 25 years to complete. Regarding the project, he quipped, "There are many ways in which to go mad. I think this is one of the more pleasant ones."
My main takeaway from this event was that I really want to re-read The Great Gatsby.
I'll post about NELA Day Two soon!