ACRL was refreshing. Yes, refreshing. For starters, I'm fond of Seattle. More relevant in terms of work, the conference allowed me to step back and place our operations into context.
What are our peer institutions doing for users? Where are we – JHU Libraries – up to snuff? Where do we improve? How might our users compare and contrast to those of other academic libraries, especially in my microcosm, DC Regional on-campus and distance ed populations?
Beyond networking with colleagues and viewing the latest vendor offerings and technology, this reflection on our current state of affairs is a top-notch reason to hit the conference circuit with some regularity.
Among the many high points of ACRL 2009 in Seattle…
- Sherman Alexie reminding the masses that contradictions are a rich part of life: an amusing, aggravating, humanizing, and confusing part of life.
- The Cyber Zed Shed… My favorite. 20 short minutes to present and respond to Q & A on technology in academic libraries. (Kudos to Liz U. and Robin for a fine presentation on LibGuides development!) LibGuides and associated widgets (Sprout, etc.) dominated the sessions I attended. Retooling e-resources and access points for compatibility with mobile devices were also often discussed. Use of social networking tools (namely Facebook and Twitter) were mentioned, along with other no cost apps like Google Docs and Google Analytics.
- Vendor contacts, including: SpringerLink enhancements and e-book prospects, ARTstor’s addition of Magnum photos, and RefWorks. RefWorks recently became RefWorks COS, adding COS Funding Ops and Scholar Universe (which was apparently developed in part at JHU) to their suite of products. Upcoming RW enhancements include: mobile Web compatability and Ref Grab It. RW has also been improving upon functionality for non-English and multi-language bibliographies.
As always, there was much to see and do. A fine conference all-around in coffee town.