Unconference Goodness

Sitting outside, blogging. I love summer. Summer also means conferences but I attended my first unconference. The One Big Library Unconference, hosted by York University Library’s Emerging Technologies group, discussed exactly that – how can we create the One Big Library. I really loved that the unconference idea means that there are more round table discussions rather than presentations. It was all done sans powerpoint, which is something I’ve been leaning more and more to in recent days, although I find it hard to actual achieve. The unconference was great – a lot of great minds got together and had some great discussions (did I mention is was great?). Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts. As with all sessions, there were too many great topics all at the same time.

The first session was on Zotero. I have used Zotero for quite some time now and think there is a lot of potential. The most exciting news is that syncing is coming in the very near future and there are other neat features common soon. I recently talked about Zotero and its possible uses for gov pubs 2.0. It can take a snap shot of the top page which would be a great way for libraries to save ever changing gov pubs pages(or at least prove they have changed). I’d love to know if any one else is considering Zotero for this kind of use.

The second session was on educating for the one big library. This topic was a little too huge for the time slot – it might have been best to identify a group (staff, library students, all others). We started by trying to define one big library only to discover there is no one way at this moment – is it one big library, one big virtual library, is it sharing collections, is it using technology, is it more than a set of trends, is it even possible to do, is there even a library in one big library? Needless to say, there were no definitive answers but there was some interesting discussions, including how new tools and technologies are changing the definition of librarians.

Other sessions I attended included a discussion on open access and copyright rights; cataloguing, the semantic web and folksonomies, and one big library on one little device. When talked turned to institutional repositories in the open access talk, it was raised that there has to be  need in order for people to want to participate in such movements. It also has to be seductive – flickr is seductive and it fills a need. Institutional repositories on the other hand, are not seductive and while we think they fill a need, many faculty have not recognized this yet. The cataloguing discussion raised some interesting points about tagging and the possibility of using tagging on Library of Congress Subject Headings. This also got me thinking about other ways tagging can help students find their info needs. Wordle is hot right now and cloud tags have been around for a while. I’d love to see cloud tags at the side of search results – showing words searched, related and relevant subject headings, and if you’re already doing it, tags that other users have contributed to your records. Most relevant hits would show in bigger text. I’ve mentioned this to our systems librarian and will be bugging him about it again in the future. If you’re using cloud tags in your library catalogue, let me know!

All in all, a great unconference. The only thing I would have liked a little more of was more discussion on what one big library would be – how are people envisioning it? How can we achieve it? The topics we discussed all have the possibility of contributing to the one big library but we didn’t define what one big library would be as a group. I can’t wait for the next unconference!


About theweelibrarian

Liaison Librarian extraordinaire! Interests in libraries and technology, virtual worlds, gov pubs, fun and chocolate.
This entry was posted in Academic Librarianship, conferences, library 2.0, unconference and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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