LibTech 2014 Conference Experience Overview

libTech2014It was recently my pleasure and privilege to attend the 2014 Library Technology Conference at Macalester College (otherwise known as LibTech). I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences from and  impressions of this always wonderful event.

Keynotes

There were two keynote presentations during the conference, one by Mita Williams and one by Barbara Fister. Mita Williams spoke on ways libraries are embracing writers circles and local musicians to both create new works at the library and to build local digital collections. She also spoke of ways libraries can make use of affordable, readily available technologies to do things that might have previously seemed unobtainable, like virtualizing servers through Amazon’s EC2 web service. Barbara Fister spoke about her work in the burgeoning movement towards open publishing by academics, allowing their work to reach 500 times the readership at a tenth of the cost. You can watch archived video of both profound and inspirational keynotes here.

I WORE THE FUTURE ON MY HEAD

I got to have some hands-on time with emerging technology during the conference, as well, mounting both Google Glass and Oculus Rift on my head. I won’t go much into either experience right now (though please do feel free to ask me about them!) I will only say this much: the future makes me a wee bit queasy. That could just be the Rift Coaster, though.

SESSIONS

“Teaching Information Literacy with Games and Gadgets,” presented by Sarah Thorngate: this was a session on teaching people to use the library through a tablet/phone-based interactive scavenger hunt built entirely in Google Docs. You can view her slides here.

“We Are All Disabled,” presented by Cynthia Ng: this was an informative and practical session on how to ensure that your library’s website is accessible (a legal requirement for most of us!) without breaking its functionality. You can view her slides here (definitely do so if you’re responsible for your libraries website!)

“Defence Against the Digital Dark Arts” presented by Eric Stroshane: this session was focused on actions you can take to better safeguard your patrons’ privacy while they’re using public access computers, though it did extend beyond that framework. You can view my presentation here.

“How to Be a Library Video Star” presented by Jenny Veile: an extremely pragmatic session on how to produce videos to promote your libraries services. Jenny covered everything from selecting a camera to selecting your shots, editing, scripting, audio mixing, and marketing. Stellar stuff for those ready to take the next step in library PR! You can view her slides here.

“Forging Information Literacy Skills with ANVIL: An Innovative Game-Based Approach to Teaching Information Literacy” presented by Ted Mulvey and David Hietpas: this was a presentation on how two people totally revamped the way their college teaches information literacy–by modelling it on bar trivia and allowing students to compete for the top slot on the leaderboard. You can access their slides here.

“When Every Student Has an iPad” presented by Erica Nutzman, Amelia Cohoes, and Carol Roos. This session included live demonstrations of the Nearpod and Socrative apps that Nutzman, Cohoes, and Roos are using to interactive with their students live, quizzing and polling them on their devices (Apple, Android, and browser-based) in class, and keeping them tuned in to the instruction instead of on texting. The apps are free and have a ton of potential.

“Infographic DIY: Online Tools for Teaching and Library Advocay” presented by Dani Brecher. This was a hands-on session in which we got to test five different free or freemium services that facilitate the creation of your own infographics. Infographics are a brilliant way to tell a visual story through data and share it through social media. Her extremely useful LibGuide is available here.

Further Details

You can view the full conference program and check out other session links here. The official Twitter stream from the conference and the back channel are also well worth perusing.

Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of choice LibTech-inspired topics in future posts!

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