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Old Quebec

Old Quebec

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Wednesday was primarily a day of walking around and being a tourist, but I did go to two things at the conference as well.  It was the last day for poster sessions and exhibitions, which created a strange atmosphere of farewells that gave the sense of the conference ending already, when in fact it was still going for another couple days.  In the afternoon I went to a session on Emerging Technologies, where I heard a lot about tools I already knew, for the most part, but the presentations were valuable in that they presented case studies of these tools actually *applied* to specific library environments.  Bob Glass of Manchester Metropolitan University (link opens PDF) in the U.K. showed us how his students have been using Blogger for class projects.  Wun Han Chow from the National Library of Singapore (link opens PDF) walked us through their work-flow using QuestionPoint, which was actually the best demonstration I’ve seen of that service.

yes, Im a tourist

yes, I'm a tourist

In the evening, I walked around a bit more but was feeling symptoms of Conference Exhaustion so I went back to the hotel early for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

My last day at IFLA was one of the best, I’m happy to say.  I attended two sessions in the morning and they were both very informative.  The first:

Enabling access to the global library – small is beautiful: distributed deployment of library services for small and special libraries

For the Evergreen case study, we actually heard from David Singleton of Georgia Public Library Service rather than Julie, as listed in the program.  He went over the transition of Georgia’s public libraries to the Evergreen Open Source ILS and the reasons they chose Open Source.  He had a great analogy that I hadn’t heard before (but I suspect it’s a common one) – when a library chooses an ILS, do they want to “rent an apartment” or “own the house”…?  If they rent, they don’t have the responsibility of upkeep but they also don’t get any return for their investment.  If they own, they do have more responsibility, but they can also customize and develop the “house” to really suit their situation.

Before Open Source, the libraries had been using a commercial ILS, but found that the “limitations of the software were determining policies” and they didn’t want that, of course.  When the staff across the libraries were asked what they *wished* the software would do, they could only think in terms of what they were familiar with.  David said they had to present the question in terms of “magic” … encouraging the staff to imagine that the software could do anything, anything at all. With Evergreen, they’ve been able to start tweaking and look ahead to potential … uh… tweaks.

Georgia will be having its first Evergreen conference the Spring of 2009 in Athens.  Evergreen also has a group on Facebook.

Next up was my last session of IFLA:

Knowledge Management with Information Technology and Library and Research Services for Parliaments

Social computing tools and knowledge sharing
DAVID GURTEEN (Gurteen Knowledge Community)

Panel Discussion with the following panellists:

  • MARY LEE KENNEDY (Harvard Business School, Knowledge and Library Services, USA)
  • MOIRA FRASER (Information and Knowledge, New Zealand Parliament, New Zealand)
  • PATRICK DANOWSKI, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Germany

I had never heard of David Gurteen before this, but sort of felt like I should have.  It was also the only session in which I saw an audience member twittering the presentation.  His slides gave some really good illustrations of the difference between “KM 1.0” which was techno-centric, built on command and control of information, and “KM 2.0” which is people-centric, built on storytelling, community, and collaboration.  Information about his articles and presentations is supposed to be on the IFLA KM section website at some point.  I’ll be looking for them.

Moira Fraser gave a whole slew of examples of government agencies using blogs, twitter, or facebook to reach out to voters.  Parliaments from New Zealand to Chile to the UK all had social networking presences of some kind.  Mary Lee Kennedy also took us through some interesting sites, one of which was “Tomorrow’s Challenges” at the IMD in Switzerland. The color and size of each headline represent how “hot” that topic is, according to clicks it’s receiving.

Lastly, Patrick Denowski of Berlin had three quick tips for us when it came to choosing and using online social tools:

1. Make sure you can get out the information you put in — export options, link options, something.

2. Share it.  Use a Creative Commons license.  Look for existing big communities in order to have critical mass.

3. Training.  Teach yourself if you have to, and then teach your colleagues or at least encourage them to play and learn, too.

Even if the tool isn’t used after all, you will have the experience of using it, which you can build on for other tools.

John Pollinger of London’s House of Commons library was in attendance and asked one of the first questions:  “How do we define and measure success of these tools?”

Mary Lee:  Define your idea of success beforehand, so you know what direction to take.

Moira:  If you’re using it as a pilot study, then the learning is the success.  Treat it like a birthday party – let it run and if good things happen, encourage more.

Patrick:  If Library of Congress just has photos of its collection on the LOC website, a lot of people won’t notice or care.  Now that LOC has photos on Flickr, people from all over the world are paying attention.  Be open to unexpected successes.

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