I’ve just returned from presenting and attending the Ontario Library Association’s SuperConference (despite a wicked snowstorm on Friday). As per usual, there were too many sessions and not enough time and I had some great conversations and attended some good sessions. Below is a brief roundup and highlight reel.
Coming Up to their Level – Sophia Apostol
This session looked at using technologies/terms that students are familiar with to introduce library instruction. A great example is making parallels between searching iTunes for a particular song to searching for a journal in an article database. I think using such examples makes tons of sense. It helps students realize that the library isn’t as foreign as they might think and puts them at ease by talking about the familiar first. Another good example is talking about tagging in Facebook and then introducing the idea of keywords or subjects.
What to do now and why? – Joseph Janes
A great speaker and thoroughly enjoyable session. A lot of what he spoke of made sense and wasn’t too shocking. He began by showing a picture of a reference desk and asking if it looked familiar – it was a photo taken in 1910. In many instances, little has changed. The fact that we could picture ourselves at this desk should be unsettling (and it was). We need to evolve. We need to do what we’re good at but do it better. It is key to become central to people’s information lives, ignorance, be relevant to what they do, be both physical and virtual. The virtual aspect needs particular investment since there isn’t the same level of committment as there is when one walks in a building, it is too easy to leave a website.
He didn’t seem to be a fan of Second Life (he’s not alone in that it seems) but he did make some interesting comments. He stressed that the process of SL (creating, building, interacting, etc) is more important than the product. I think this is true – something will replace SL but it is the ability to create a virtual world that’s important. He found importance in providing for the information needs for people’s multiple lives. He also noted that Second Life is about creation and noted that, for libraries, it’s really not about existing services. The question he raised was how can libraries be part of this creation process – what is our role in this? I’m not sure what the answer is at this point but I think it’s a question I will be pondering more in the next while, especially as I am reviewing our pilot service in Second Life.
Carole Honore, the author of In Praise of Slow, gave a plenary session. I started reading his book (which I read too slow and had to return to the library) and I am a firm believer that we do all need to slow down, take a step back. I must admit, I do find it hard to put to practice but it’s a good New Year’s resolution for us all (and not the resolutions we find so easy to break)
The Kids are Alright – Or Are They? – Jenn Horwath and Cynthia Williams
This session looked at some of the major works on today’s students (ie. Prensky). The literature seems to suggests students are tech savvy and up on all the web 2.0 applications, despite a lack of data to back up these claims. A look at the data suggests that students aren’t as savvy as we may have thought and this has implications for the types of services we’re starting to create. I can’t say I was terribly surprised by the data they pulled. I’ve asked students at the research help desk if they’re familiar with some of the more popular web 2.0 applications and the answer is no. As in my previous post, it may be that it is our role to highlight the useful applications.
I would have liked to have heard Andrew Keen speak, but it was scheduled during the time I was to present on Second Life, so here’s a great post on his session if you’re interested. My talk seemed to go well, so thanks to my co-presenter Donna and all who attended!