Monday, March 16, 2009

Back from ACRL...

...which seems weird to say, since it was held in the city I've called home for almost 13 years. But still. I didn't come to the library for those days, I went to the conference for a different kind of work. I made a new friend, got nostalgic for the days I'd go to Pike Place Market for lunch every day, ran right into the St. Patrick's Day parade, and came away with a short list of ideas for things to do.

This was my first ACRL, and I got about halfway through posting talks and presentations of interest to my Google calendar before I gave up and decided to wing it, aside from a couple of firm commitments (not least of which was hosting the Washington chapter dinner, which was held in a restaurant where the University Bookstore's downtown branch used to be).

Best idea of the conference: the Cyber Zed Shed (but, uh, how to put this delicately: the "cyber" prefix is so very 1990s), despite a couple of participant no-shows. Which is a real pity because I'm starting to get my hands dirty with Voyager's new interface and it would've been nice to pick up some ideas. Lots of stuff about widgets in the other presentations, and not all of it was LibGuides-driven, even. The short presentations forced the presenters to stay on topic, be concise, and avoid digressions, which is something I can't really say for some of the more formal presentations.

Other things that were useful, fun, or both: the preconference on copyright, immediately relevant because of a project I'm currently working on; and the presentation on puzzles as promotional gimmicks at MIT. I like puzzles and think they could be a fun and engaging promotional tool, especially since we don't really do the once-ubiquitous library tour anymore.

The thing that interested me the most, though, is that the puzzles were presented not on the library website (where one might think at first to put them) but in the student newspaper. Because one doesn't come to the library website with the intention of engaging in a leisure activity, which is what the puzzles basically are.

Both of the keynotes I attended were stellar: Sherman Alexie, an author I've been reading since I discovered Reservation Blues sometime in the mid to late 1990s, and Ira Glass, who when speaking sets up as though he's in the broadcast booth, complete with mixing board. Both of them talked about stories. I mean, both of them talked about a lot more than that, but what struck me about both speeches was how they were centered around the concrete reality of story, and the hold it has on people. The thing that story gives you that other forms of information typically don't is context. I often think about what role, if any, storytelling plays in academic library instruction. Most of the time it seems to show up as an attempted-humorous anecdote, but when Glass talked about story structure--something I've learned about in a few writing classes, and I really wonder why it isn't taught me--it occurred to me that that structure might also be a useful way to structure lessons.

So, there. A few wee tips and tricks to play with, and one big idea to chew on. I guess that makes for a pretty good conference.

Friday, March 13, 2009

At ACRL: Cyber Zed Shed

Corny name, nifty notion. First session is totally jam-packed. Great ideas for a wannabe geek like me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Not dead, just busy

Work has been overwhelmingly busy and I've had no time to post anything of substance, or indeed anything at all. That should change...someday.

In the meantime, you can read my latest article for Info Career Trends, To MLIS or not to MLIS? Enjoy.