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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Annual 2013 : it’s not just librarians doing the spotting!

Before heading to the conference center this morning, we stopped at a local coffee shop and while ordering, the baristas asked if we were librarians. Yes, we all were. He said he’s been playing “spot the librarian” downtown yesterday. Clearly librarians aren’t the only ones who play it! They loved talking to us and one said that the world needs more libraries, so make sure you go stop by the Overflow coffee bar if you’re near State and 16th and say hi to these wonderful guys and gals, and grab an awesome cup of coffee.

Like all days at ALA, today was jam packed. Since it’s always hard to pick and choose what exactly to attend, I began my morning a bit later so that I could attend more sessions this afternoon. My day began with the 10:30 Cataloging Norms Interest Group that I co-vice chaired this year. Despite the room being in an odd location in the conference center, but then again what’s not, we had an awesome turn out for our session. The speakers covered a range of topics all centered around metadata and cataloging, and how to help users best find exactly what they’re looking for as well as how to be successful with their use of information and images. One speaker talked specifically about defining accuracy and completeness of cataloging records, which can be expanded to metadata in general and so the topics made for a cohesive and interesting panel this morning.

Next, I headed over to Library Code Year IG at the Hilton Chicago, a fairly short bus right away but with so many people waiting in the line for it, I wasn’t sure that I’d make the first bus. Thankfully I did. This group had put on the Python preconference all day session that I wasn’t able to make yet I heard that the people who did attend really enjoyed it. At the interest group session, a lot was discussed as this is still a new group being formed and deciding how exactly to provide useful opportunities for attendees in the future, the goal is to facilitate librarians learning how to code. I will be co-chairing this group over the next year so watch for various announcements on listservs to find out more about it. It is a joint LITA/ALCTS interest group which encourages interested librarians from both areas of ALA.

The final session of my day was Multiple identities: managing authorities in repositories and digital collections. A librarian From Hong Kong University spoke about cleaning up name authorities and creating a research and researchers digital repository that was useful for the entire university. The second talk was given by three librarians from the University of Notre Dame who are working with the Gates foundation to create a database for malaria research to help with the eradication of it. Although they are both bigger institutions and the grand scale truly makes the efforts worthwhile, it was still good to hear about the process and what kind of software they are using and the things that they had to consider when going about these projects. Once again this topic ties back to accuracy and completeness of information, from my first morning session today, while also begging the question of what information best serves users. For example, at Notre Dame, various people use their database for the research and so they have included more indexing than might normally be done since they want to ensure that people doing searches will find what they intend to look for even if the term searched isn’t exactly the MeSH heading.

Throughout the day, I ventured into the exhibit hall a few times. It’s always a jungle in there, it seems!

I kept this evening a little quieter, going out to dinner with a few friends and then heading back to my place to write these blog posts to keep track of what I’ve done the past couple of days here. Although it can be difficult sometimes to make time to get these posts up on the same day, as seen with my Friday post that showed up earlier this evening, they give me the chance to reflect on the sessions that I attended today and make connections between them, my prior knowledge, and generate ideas and thoughts for the future. I find that the best part of ALA is the inspiration and food-for-thought that the sessions, conference interactions, and networking provide me.

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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

The first day of ALA Annual in Chicago and already the conference is busy and in full swing! Even before it began this year, hash tags on Twitter were flying by with excitement, though not always the “official” ones. It’s always humorous to see the variations on Twitter but we do want consistent use so that everyone can find all the relent Tweets–a priority of mine anyway as a cataloger! Lets agree on metadata, especially for hash tags. Maybe next time ALA can add them to the session info in the book, scheduler, and placard for the rooms…and make the conference one a part of the logo!

Even though it was Friday, the conference had many regular sessions, in addition to the majority of all-day pre-conference events. I was surprised to see the conference center was full and buzzing that morning already.

First up was the Annual Unconference, which was completely packed and standing room only by the time I showed up. Clearly the room was too small and more people showed up than they had expected but the discussion was really fruitful: user expectations versus reality for content, access, and search result; check out history and recommendation systems versus user privacy; circulation and count of items, especially print material; and the role of the library, what it is and should or can be. That’s as much as I caught before heading to the Networking Uncommons to look at the schedule again for the rest of the weekend.

Despite the size of the conference, I always run into friends, co-workers, and librarians that I met at other Annuals and Midwinters. Lunches, dinners, coffee breaks, hallway chats are one of the highlights of these conferences. But then there are the times when I cannot seem to connect with someone due to different schedules. You can’t see everyone, even when you plan to sometimes!

Competencies and education for a career in cataloging IG turned out to be exactly what I tried to find out at MidWinter: how LC conducted their training program internally for RDA. Melanie Polutta works at LC and was an internal trainer, and even an early tester when RDA first came out. She discussed how LC conducted training at the various stages of testing and adoption within LC, the challenges, and some of her lessons learned in hopes that the attending librarians could take away something to help them with training at their own institutions. Most of her advice revolved around understanding the standards and concepts inside and out. That includes terminology, the structure and content of the documentation itself, the theory and purpose, how to apply the standards versus when to use cataloger’s judgment, and deciding what cataloger’s judgment means for local policies. Time and practice are also the obvious other take aways. That and to divorce RDA from MARC when learning and talking about it with others; use publication information instead of referring to the 264 (previously 260) field. Her recommendation was for everyone to learn RDA, and FRBR, at least somewhat since whether you catalog in it or not, there will be hybrid records from here onward along with RDA elements in some AACR2 records.

For the final official ALA event of the day, I attended the Emerging Leaders poster session. One of my friends was a part of this great program this year and so it was exciting to go and hear about her project but also see what everyone else was doing this past year. People are split into various groups surrounding topics of interest and they conduct research and then present their findings at poster sessions. It’s a great way to hone project management skills and develop professional rapport within ALA. The topics vary and this year they included assessing the value of the Emerging Leaders program, assessing the retention rate of first year ALA members, and looking into the funding of the ALCTS journal.

And then came the most fun part of the day, hitting various receptions and happy hours around the city. UMich SI put on a get together for alums. I caught up with many fellow classmates from grad school that I haven’t seen for a few years and met many people who had graduated before me. It is always fun to hear about what people are doing now and the cool projects that they’re working on. Next we met up with other friends at an Irish pub, although we got caught in a bit of rain just as we were almost there. That meant waiting it out and drying off a bit, which we were happy about just staying put and hanging out. To wrap up the evening, we headed to the President’s Reception on the terrace of the Hilton Chicago overlooking Millennium Park. Midnight on a balcony with champagne networking with librarians as the red-orange moon glowed over the lit up city–not much could be better. Walking back to our place, a fat rat scurried by us as if to remind us all that we were in fact in an urban setting; the guys on the sidewalk joked that it must be New York not Chicago.

Also, the AirBnB that I’m staying at with my husband and our friend is a great walkable location and perfect for the conference. There’s even another librarian here too!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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