Thursday, April 10, 2008

CIL 2008 Wrapup

So there was a lot of buzz at this year’s Computers in Libraries. Unlike last year, it wasn’t all about Twitter, though many of us were twittering away throughout the conference. And granted, I could only attend Monday and Tuesday, so perhaps I missed out on what the hot trends were…

The theme was “InnovativeChange: Integrating High Tech With High Touch”. (Hey wait a second, I missed half the conference – I didn’t notice the “high touch” aspect… except for the reference by the “rock stars” – the Shanachie boys – to “library spin the bottle”. But that’s a whole other story & nothing to do with this very professional blog posting.)

Trends I noticed were user-generated content, creation of videos and screencasts (e.g., for YouTube), embracing Lib2.0/Web2.0 philosophy (there’s the innovation piece). These topics were accompanied by the usual nuts and bolts tools to help us improve our websites and catalogs (not to mention to amuse ourselves with!).

There was also a lot of talk about using open source solutions for everything from ILS to website content management. Open source has come of age in libraries – it’s truly an alternative these days, and it doesn’t necessarily require a team of IT gurus to implement (yes, you have to be somewhat tech literate, but on the scale of difficulty, using open source today just doesn’t rate that highly).

On the philosophical front, there was a whole track on innovation this year – fostering and supporting it in libraries. And in the “Woepac to Wowpac” session, alongside the tools and how to ideas, such as implementing LibraryThing For Libraries (nicely presented by Connecticut’s own Kate Sheehan - - formerly of Danbury Public Library, now of Darien Library), John Blyberg (also one of our Connecticut colleagues from Darien Library) challenged the audience with a higher-level discussion focusing on analysis and rebuilding systems completely, as needed, to get a more holistic approach in providing online services. I know I’m not doing his words and points justice, so let me point you to his blog - - where he regularly posts his innovative thinking on the provision of library services. He even offered up what turned out to be my favorite quotable phrase from the conference – “the succubus of the committee”.

And BTW, in my opinion, he’s absolutely and utterly correct. Putting a pretty face on a lousy ILS doesn’t get us where our patrons need us to be. Separating our website and catalog efforts reflects a massive failure to understand the situation – the catalog and the website may be separate systems at this point, but the underlying truth is that they are aspects of providing online services to patrons that should be integrated. Why – in some libraries - is a tech services person, with their cataloging expertise, but lack of user interface experience, in charge of the OPAC and the webmaster completely out of the loop? We need both people working together. Yet things can be so divorces in today's libraries that the webmaster may not even be apprised of major OPAC changes until after the fact. It makes no sense. Let the web professional do their job & have them be involved enough to get the OPAC in harmony with the website. In some cases, the webmaster comes from a library systems background, but due to the artificial divisions that place the ILS in one conceptual box and the website in another, we are unable to effectively integrate these aspects of our web presence. The outside world doesn’t care who runs what or why these things are so awkwardly cobbled together, why some data is not available in our catalogs, etc., they just want online library services that make sense. They want the website and catalog to work together seamlessly so they can be successful in doing their online library-related tasks. It’s really that simple, folks!

What’s Hot In Libraries

One thing I noticed was that the cool kids are all in the LSW (password notala) - see So it seems that Meebo - - is a must-have and those of us who haven’t Meebo’ed are a little behind. And the boys from Delft, Netherlands and their ShanachieTour - - were definitely still the rock stars. To explain, the Delft Public Library has a video creation lab, among other innovative features in their library. Three of the innovative librarians within the library decided to take their videography & sound equipment over to the US and embark on a cross-country tour wherein they talked with innovative librarians about their efforts. They mixed in great music and voila – a sensation was born – the rock stars of the library world! They were keynote speakers for Tuesday and really got us all motivated for the coming sessions and for – ultimately – a return to our own libraries where we can implement the many great ideas we got from CIL!

To get more information on the CIL2008 presentations, try the following (including postings of presentation slides):

And for those of you into RSS, try the superfeed at (add this url to your feeds in bloglines, for example)

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