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ALA Anaheim: Manic Monday

The title for this post is meant in a good way–as all days at ALA Annual, it’s always busy and full of good stuff and great people to meet. Although many seem to be taking off day. For me, the conference really is a marathon as I’ve done all day Friday through Monday and fly out tomorrow mid-morning; though I don’t sleep on planes, there is no way that I will stay awake for that 4+ hours flight, which I need/have definitely earned!

My plan of three sessions today turned into two due to cancellation which gave me an extra long and well-enjoyed break since I’ll be meeting with friends for coffee and catching up later this afternoon and hopefully getting free tickets to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, an advanced showing tonight!

Session 1) Publisher/Vendor/Library Relations Interest Group had a panel of speakers made up of a representatives from Springer and Project MUSE, plus a couple of librarians (a cataloger and admin who used to be a cataloger) from the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!). Being in another building likely kept the numbers down, plus being on Monday but it was still well-attended considering, with around 30 people there at 8 a.m. this morning. Since both are more publishers than vendors, it was interesting to hear about what they do to create their MARC records–usually machine generated initially then outsourced to OCLC/SLA for cataloging enhancements before going to the libraries with the e-books. The librarians obviously addressed the growing difficulty and frustration with editing and tweaking batch records that have various quality and consistency issues not only across multiple vendors but within a single vendor some times. Thankfully, the publishers said that they gather and want feedback for providing what libraries want. And the librarians, thankfully, called for action and accountability among libraries in order to share information and band together to approach vendors and publishers with their needs and demands for better MARC records as budgets, staffing, and work loads change rapidly. During the Q&A I did speak up and mention our (apparently special) department of full-time catalogers and that we do I-level records; I take it for granted because that’s where I work and my environment so it was shocking (but shouldn’t have been) to hear fro the panelists. Also, I piggybacked off of the comments about collaboration on everyone’s part to get better MARC from vendors and publishers and encouraged libraries to work together and approach them with their desires and needs. Another cataloger mentioned the BATCH List listserv that shares valuable information about record changes that are useful for all libraries.

Lesson learned: Vendors and publishers can and will provide better MARCs if it means more business for them by giving libraries what they need in an economically tight time for everyone. Just ask! We all are in it for the end users so why not collaborate and make metadata better, which is now more important than ever for discovery.

Session 2) CANCELLED Seeing is Believing: Understanding Data Visualization for Library Research didn’t end up happening but sounded very practical and would have been useful. But I won’t complain about having a longer break before my afternoon session, although now the tiredness is setting in the more I sit still and am left to my own devices rather than being stimulated by a session. Nap or upcoming session? Onto session 3 for the day, just because it will be cool and has great speakers! Sleep is for the plane tomorrow.

Lesson learned: Maybe 3 sessions plus other activities, the exhibit hall, and networking is too much. But I’m still plugging along and fitting everything in that I can to really squeeze the most out of ALA while I can!

Session 3) Riding the Publishing Roller Coaster: Practical Strategies from Research to Writing addressed the writing process through getting published. The panel had both authors and editors (who were also authors!) that gave great, practical tips and advice. It’s always refreshing to hear others talk about all the hard work and difficulty and challenges that go into writing and publishing. Too much to share but if you are interested in learning more, I could do a longer post delving into what was said. Most was common sense but needed reminding; I nodded a lot during the session, if that puts it into perspective. They all articulated their advice and tips eloquently.

Lesson learned: Reminded that writing is hard work so be humbled and respectful of your self and other’s works. Put yourself out there and be flexible when need to yet stick to your convictions but be able to explain why if you really don’t want a particular change made to your work.

After the last session, I meet up for coffee with UMich grad school friends and one of our professors to catch up! Soon after, we headed to get tickets for the advanced showing of The Perks of Being a Wallflower! Amazing movie with Emma Watson, by the way. How did I miss this book growing up? However, after the film, everyone got a free copy of the book and the author was there for q and a and book signing! It was a fun evening with good friends–a great way to wrap up ALA Annual!

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Go see the movie when it comes out and read the book until this! My new favorite movie!

Look for a post tomorrow, likely while at the airport, about tips and advice about attending ALA and what to do now that we are all still a buzz from the great sessions and people here. My friend and classmate, now Learning Technologies Librarian, Emily Thompson hosts a podcast called LiTTech with another friend/classmate now School Librarian, Addie Matteson that address libraries, education, and technology. Not too long ago, I spoke as a guest about cataloging with Emily, which is also available for download on iTunes as well. They were here at ALA collecting sound bites for their next upcoming podcast, so keep an eye out for that; I’ve heard some bits already and it’ll be great and fun to listen to!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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ALA Anaheim: Super Saturday

Very busy day today! Lots of wonderful sessions which makes it hard to decide what to attend. In the end, the three sessions I chose today taught me a lot and were enjoyable.

Session 1) LITA’s Linked Data and Next Generation Catalogs covered a broad base of what Linked Data is, why libraries should lead the charge, and how to do so. Different libraries and vendors on the panel talked about the topic generally while also delving into specifics of projects and current use of Linked Data. Unfortunately, attending the all-day Linked Data workshop yesterday at the pre-conference meant that some of the speakers also presented at this event as well and while they weren’t the same presentations, there was overlap. But being new to Linked Data, it was good to have things reiterated and spoken about more broadly. A few others from yesterday came as well but doing one or the other would have been sufficient, especially since this session lasted 4 hours and covered lots of ground.

Lesson learned: Instead of trying to hit all the same topics, vary your sessions to learn more and expand your horizons–plus you have the chance to meet so many more people of all different types.

Session 2) Transforming Technical Services: Growing IT Skill Sets Within Technical Services Departments provided a practical realistic look at how to increase tech savvy among TS staff. Several libraries each gave their take on what it takes to increase, encourage, and support professional development in application development, software training, and bringing more tech into library work to ensure projects are done by librarians who understand the system, users, and needs rather than hand it off to already busy IT people. Oddly enough, all the speakers rounded back on the same or similar tips and concerns but each offered their own way of how they handled their situation and what their solutions and realizations were. So useful. And not just for TS–this applies to libraries in general as well as general business. In a nutshell, talk the the staff to find out what they use and need but remember that they don’t know what they don’t know at time, encourage and support relevant learning that will make their work easier and more effective, start with small and meaningful projects that are achievable and leave a lasting impact to increase buy-in, and work within the knowledge and abilities of the staff to drawn on the best of what they can offer pairing it with the technology to increase their effectiveness.

Lesson learned: Though libraries are becoming more techie and librarians with tech savvy skills are needed and necessary these days, as one speaker said “Remember, we are not growing programmers”.

Session 3) Traveling the Spectrum: From Interstellar Adventures to Epic Fantasy, the influence of Science Fiction and Fantasy on the World Today (i.e. the George R.R. Martin talk!) was my guilty pleasure session of the day and a great way to relax and enjoy a fun author-talk. Besides George R.R. Martin, Blake Charlton also spoke and, for some reason, Lois McMaster Bujold wasn’t billed but was on the panel as well. Each talked about themselves, their paths to reading and writing books, and how Sci-Fi and Fantasy shaped them and the world. Though I’ve not read a word by any of these authors (I LOVE the HBO Game of Thones show), they are now three of my favorite authors and I vow to read their works as soon as my year of reading my bookshelf is up, which isn’t going so well this month, lol. Each was so humble and had tough lives that lead them to not only books that engaged and inspired them to read and eventually to write. Authors that talk realistically about writing and what it took to get their win me over instantly because, like most things, book writing is not magic and neither is getting published. Hard work and persistence win out. Once I finish Camp this June, I might be crazy enough to write another 50,000 words in August for it again and this time return to my roots of Fantasy and Sci-Fi as well; it’s been a decade since I began my Fantasy novel that never really got off the ground but after this talk today, I’m ready to commit a month to returning to those worlds and characters and actually writing the novel now.

Lesson learned: Listening to them all made me realize that fantastical literature/fiction is escapist for a reason; most Fantasy and Sci-Fi authors and readers lead hard lives, in one aspect or another, and the release and travels and adventures that those genres provide enrich everyone’s life who writes or reads them. And as with most genres, there is quality and fluff so there is something for all tastes and preferences and if you haven’t read any, find out about them (use Reader’s Advisory at your library) and crack open some books and see what they are all about!

Now, time to briefly look over my schedule tomorrow to set a game plan for more sessions! Are you ready for yours?

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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