Monday, May 18, 2009

Maryland Library Association (MLA) Conference, 2009

Mark Cyzyk’s notes on the Maryland Library Association (MLA) annual conference 2009 in Ocean City, Maryland

This was a wonderful conference! It was an eye-opener to realize that other sorts of libraries around the State -- public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, academic non-ARL libraries, even prison libraries -- are wrestling with the same sorts of problems as we do, have the same sorts of concerns as we do, and in many cases come up with the same sorts of solutions as we do: We all have materials to purchase, collect, and catalog; we all have organizations to run, staff to manage; we all have physical facilities in need of constant attention; we all have archives and special collections to digitize and push online; we all have patrons to provide for and to educate; we all have public terminals, staff workstations, servers, and networks to run; we all have policy and funding issues and concerns.

Highlights of the conference included an entertaining and inspiring session by Paul Holdengraber, Director of Public Programs at the New York Public Library; an interesting presentation on the use of Blogs in Libraries by our colleagues up the street at the Albert S. Cook Library at Towson University; an open session on "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about IT" led by an expert panel of librarians and technologists from several sorts of libraries across Maryland; and even a final dramatic reading by a Recorded Books artist, something I would not normally have seen at a conference, and something I found surprisingly valuable and entertaining.

I had only been to MLA once before, perhaps 15 years ago, and I have to say that attending it this year was an eye-opener. There is a whole, vibrant library world out there, a world of dedicated professionals and staff actively bringing Knowledge to the World, whether it be from a small academic library, a special library, a public library, or a prison library.

I would say that our values as librarians, and the techniques and technological tools we use to carry out our missions, are ultimately what bind us.

We are, in the end, more alike than we are different.


Studied philosophy at Louvain
New York Public Library.
Director of Public Programs
Lecture series, interviews on stage. Salman Rushdie, David Remick, Malcolm Gladwell, Anthony Bourdain, et. al.
His charge: "oxygenate the library"
"Make the lions roar"
"Make it live"
get two people -- Studs Terkel and Tim Robbins -- on stage and see what happens.
staged an opera based on The Elements of Style in the main readng room!
learning from failure. try bold things
dynamic, inspiring
"cognitive theater"
artist in residence at NYPL. "draws conversations as they happen" INCREDIBLE!
initiative. Ask for forgiveness, not for permission. And don't even ask for forgiveness.
some events are brilliant disasters
Oram Pamuk, incredibly shy on stage. long silences
you MUST compile email lists
get one or two big stars, at the beginning of the series
each one of you should find an artist in residence
minimize lectures; maximize conversations. More entertaining
NYPL 2-3 events a week

Ancient History and New Discovery at the NOAA Library
History of NOAA; treasures of the library. History of exploration
NOAA formed in 1970. combined 19th century federal agencies dating back to 1807
1807 survey of the coast, Geodetic Survey
annual reports, facinating accounts of coast surveys. maps charts
science of surveying
pioneering oceanography
survey of California coast
Civil War maps
hidden collection, uncataloged
Weather Bureau
special collections digitized on Website
rare books, 1485-1800
evolution of weather maps
foreign climate data
30% of collection is cataloged; 1% is online
volunteer weather observers, severe weather data submission
Monthly Weather Review, Look up the weather on a particular day in US history
polar research
Historical Map and Chart Collection
oyster reef maps
NOAAWATCH Website, fed by RSS by various of the 880+ NOAA Websites
NOWData, weather data
JetStream - online school for weather
NOAA Photo library 40k images
use of new media, YouTube, Flickr, virtual worlds, RSS, Twitter

From Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library!
Emerging technology librarians
audience: colleagues
YouTube video: What is a Blog?
Blog platforms. Wordpress/Blogger
Blogs are dead? Announced at Computers and Libraries last fall
but engaging, authentic blogs are alive and well. Fulfilling a need
audience, scope, tone
"Pimp My Search Engine" -- be wary of titles
Peer review; collaboration; frequency of posts; consistency of tone
post regularly!
marketing the blog
FeedBurner blog-to-email gateway
blog as staff development tool
automated integration with LinkedIn
assessment: surveys; analytics

Expert panel
Why are IT departments run by [dictators]?!
"Locked down PCs reduce our work. Reduced work saves money."
IT staff "different type of people"
Baltimore Education Research Network
prioritization of bandwidth. Packeteer
[The term "Nazi" was used quite a bit during this session!]
Using Twitter in libraries. Harnessing the hive mind. Just another tool.
13 Maryland prison libraries. How to share collections, securely? One PC per library. Intermittent Internet access. Tie into public library system, "Marina". Health and Hygiene libraries share a catalog.

Ask Us Now
AskALibrarian service
WOW factor.
Phone reference. AIM
mosio "Text A Librarian" service
AltaRama SMS
library h3lp routes messages
Do you exist where people are? Facebook, Twitter
Google Alerts "What people are saying about you."
Special libraries and AskUsNow
teachable moments
Explain what you are doing Involve the patron. Teach e.g. boolean searching. About subscription databases
Explain about authoritative sources.
Suspicious openers "What is the point of life?" "How many arms can people have?"
Pick up promptly; scripted greeting; user customer's name if given; identify oneself
short responses; use of elipsis; encouraging comments
QuestionPoint - end of transaction survey
Assume the question is legitimate. Avoid the snappy comeback.

Journaling to keep track of books read, books on list to read.
Synopses of books
Reading logs
Summer reading program
Using Twitter to document/track reading
Kindle -- highlight words, lookup definitions directly from within interface
"Self-directed learning paths"
"Balanced scorecard"! used in Delaware libraries
everything must link back to our collections
IMLS funded program
[I'm the only male in the room!]
Reader's advisory service in public libraries
Lifelong learning. Learning styles. Self-directed learning. Informal learning space
The learner "owns" the question
Commonplace books, 18th century. Public education --> passive learners.
There is no concept of "lifelong learning" in Spanish! [?]
Libraries in Delaware are claiming the Lifelong Learning space because the schools are not, it literally is not part of the DE K-12 mission.
Neurological connections. Bushy brains.
Multiple intelligences. Different types of intelligence
Mind mapping one's reading interests
LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari
Tools: Journals,

A dramatic reading by a Recorded Book artist.
Theater background
This guy's better than Rich Little!
At Recorded Books they only allow two hours of reading a day. Quality goes down after two hours...
He ideally likes to read a book twice before recording it.

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