Internet Librarian 2007 Redux

Lee RainieI simply cannot blog in real-time. That’s better left to the pros. Instead, I prefer to do something like the following:

$ diff self.preIL07 self.postIL07

IL2007 marks the third Internet Librarian I’ve attended and, in my estimation, the best. At least one other person has commented to me that there seemed to be something different about this year’s IL and I’ve been trying to articulate what that is. Certainly, the vibe was different (hey, I’m allowed to use ‘vibe’ in reference to a conference in California). I think several factors are converging that made for a particularly beneficial Internet Librarian this year. Instead of recapping the entire conference (since others have done that far better than I could), I decided to look back over my notes and quote, verbatim, some snippets that stand out:

“Look at all these first time attendees!”

Indeed there were many. In fact, first timers outnumbered returning conference-goers two-to-one (from my very unscientific eyeballing of raised hands). Moreover, the general attitude of these attendees seemed to be that of open-minded, curious anticipation. I’m heartened to see this kind of response to a conference like Internet Librarian and I’ll be curious to see how that trend continues in the years to come.

“Nowhere is the value of 2.0-based tools, applied to learning and research, more evident than in the work done by Helene Blowers.”

Yes well, I hadn’t really considered the impact Helene has had on libraries until seeing her talk about Learning 2.0. I’ve heard her speak a number of times on this but for some reason this was the one that hit me between the eyes. Learning 2.0 changes libraries and librarians. It’s success can be attested to by the fact that is has been duplicated over 200 times worldwide–that makes Helene the Miss Rumphius of the library world.

“The Shanachies remind us that imagination and passion are the ying and yang of next-generation librarianship.”

ShanachiesWhat can really be said about the boys from Holland? They were the rockstars. It’s not often that you meet people who care enough about their profession to seek funding for, then set out upon a cross-country road trip on the other side of the world to shoot a documentary on The American Library. IL2007 will always be referred to as “the year the Dutch guys came.”

Note to self: Visit Dok.

“Encourage the heart.”

I was again reminded of Michael Stephens’ call for libraries to ‘encourage the heart.’ You can’t bring to bear a more fundamental charge and this is really at the heart of our mission, isn’t it? Librarianship will never be boring, because regardless of how you come at it, it will be like examining a many-faceted statue–simultaneously impenetrable and encompassing. If you can’t see what he means, perhaps it’s time to back off and approach your work from a different angle. I don’t care if you’re a corporate law or a YA librarian, this applies to you.

“Focus on community.”

Another subtle trend I picked up on was the lighter focus on specific tools and a closer examination of community and the library. I’ll freely admit that some of that may be me, projecting my own thoughts into the mix, but only partially. The word “community” itself came up several times in more than one session. Not only do we have a responsibility to engage our patrons where they live (outside our walls), but we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fill a void where Google, and Yahoo! and Amazon cannot go.

“Org 2.0 = movement toward cohesion”

Interesting thoughts from Rebbecca Jones on “Organization 2.0.” Too many institutions need to learn the hard lessons and even more are under siege from within by departments who refuse to integrate with each other. Maybe it’s time we recognize that departmental boundaries are artificial and harmful. Hierarchy is important but what good does it do if it turns your organization into a menagerie of fiefdoms?

“Folks like Glenn Peterson from Hennepin County are conducting a quiet revolution whose shock-wave is both impending and building in intensity.”

I wrote that along the edge of some marketing literature because I didn’t have anything else to write on. Glenn really is a quiet force of nature when it comes to next-gen library websites and catalogs. The work he’s done at Hennepin is truly impressive. Casey Bisson is another uber-innovator who is changing the game with Scriblio. It occurred to me that it’s really only a matter of time before these types of efforts impact the already-tenuous ILS market. Get your popcorn.

“In two years, many libraries have gone from ‘what’s this?’ to ‘here’s this.'”

Internet Library 2005 was exciting. Web 2.0 was spinning up its dynamos and making its way into Libraryland. I remember hearing a lot and seeing a lot about Flickr and and the like–demonstrations mostly. But the relevance of these services in libraries was immature and unclear. Not so, two years later. We’re seeing more than just a few libraries leveraging 2.0 tools to do some pretty cool stuff. I think that trend is likely to continue as organizational responsibilities begin to encompass the use of Web 2.0.

“All hell is about to break loose.”

This was scrawled on my notepad sometime during the second day. I really don’t remember writing it, but it’s in my handwriting and I hope it’s true.

See you next year in Monterey!

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