ASSOCIATES (2012, November, v. 19, no. 2)

Feature

Library 2.012 Worldwide Virtual Conference

Julanna Hennessy
Library Technician
Reserve Bank of Australia
Sydney, NSW
julannahennessy@hotmail.com

Isn’t it wonderful living in times where you can be in Australia and attend a conference organised in America? Participate from your own workplace and do it for free! I love the give and take of online activities, for me the internet is not just a place to find information, it’s a place I can participate and contribute as well. Finding conferences online brings together a lot of the things I love doing at home and mixing it up with my work.

The second online conference, Library 2.012 Worldwide Virtual Conference, was held 3-5 October 2012. It was international, with sessions running live all day and night in order to cover all time zones. As it was last year, it was organised via the Library 2.0 site,
http://www.library20.com/page/2-012-conference and used the Blackboard Collaborate software. This year I attended the conference from my workplace which meant I had the opportunity to show off the online conference system to some of my colleagues. They were all suitably impressed.

All the sessions have been recorded and are available online http://www.library20.com/page/library-2-012-session-recording-links-and-information and I recommend everyone browse through the giant list and watch the sessions that interest you. You will get the slides, audio and chat.

There are a few technical things you have to take into account such as making sure your computer can run the conference but all the instructions are on the website, and there is help available if you get into trouble. Read and ask questions if you need to.

So this year I come into work, read my email and dealt with any immediate bits and then ran downstairs to the conference computer with a few minutes to spare to get logged in. The advantage of doing this at work this year is that I was wide awake – last year I did it at home and through too much enthusiasm tried to log in before I’d reached my proper coffee intake level and was too sleepy to get my passwords right!

The numbers this year were good, though maybe not quite so dramatic as last year, not surprising as last year was the first of these conferences. I’m told there were around 200 in the biggest keynote session. The keynote I listened to reached 100. All the other sessions reached at least 20.

The presenters all seemed more comfortable with the system this year, the sound problems that seemed to plague the system last year were mostly absent, and there wasn’t any of the hard to watch visual problems caused by trying to match up applications that didn’t want to talk to each other.

There were more Australians this year, but still not many. I’m wondering about the level of promotion here.

I found 2 main streams for the sessions: technology and ideas. There was an extraordinary list of applications and platforms mentioned, almost like dropping names! Foursquare, Instagram, cloud storage / Dropbox, Lift, handwriting on digital media, Evernote, QR codes, Pinterest, Moodle Symbaloo, Livebinders, Paper.li, Scoop.it, YouTube, Wallwisher, Primarywall. Lino it, Edmodo, Subtext, Wikispaces, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, G+, Linkedin, Google apps, Edublog, Ning, Second life, and various apps for mobile devices. There were eight I’d never heard of, so I have a couple of new toys to play with!

Most of the sessions I attended were about new uses for the technology, new ways to present our services and to communicate with staff and clients. There are some great ways of pulling together all the various technologies into a single platform, so the uses of the technology are becoming smoother, less scattered. There were talks from all types of libraries, from school libraries creating book groups, colleges building small special subject collections for students and staff, and a secondary school library using web 2.0 tools to create ready reference information from a wide variety of sources in a single convenient space.

The ideas that were presented covered how our clients have changed (those born into a digital world), how the technological landscape is changing (less than 50% of chips made were for personal computers, the world is definitely going mobile) and this is affecting our industry and the information needs of our clients and how we can keep on top of all this in order to meet those needs and keep our services relevant. There were interesting statistics about online and mobile presence from a variety of countries (I heard about China, Brazil and Turkey besides the western world) and how changing cultures and economic developments are influencing those changes. A common thread is that building libraries is seen as a good political tactic but that when those same politicians are in power the running costs are not available.

There was a difficult emotional session about how to maximise your chances of getting a job. It was mainly aimed at the US experience, but highlighting a problem that exists elsewhere – there are always far more applicants than positions. Having been on a selection panel I felt I had some good insights to add, but a lot of the chat was from people who were really struggling and feeling quite desperate to get into their first job. There is a lot of anger being directed at selectors so I also spent some time writing about how difficult it was having to cull so many applications.

There was a discussion of how libraries need to have a very strong web presence (something easier to do if you aren’t in a high security workplace working behind a firewall) and being constantly visible and available, and therefore so well used in the community that it’s harder to justify cutting funding.

An excellent session on copyright covered the differences between copyright and licences for digital media, explaining how licencing trumps copyright, and covers everything such as social networks, videos, blogs, wikis, virtual worlds, games and course management systems, as well as digital books and journal articles. Be careful using something off the net in a presentation for example. There’s the licence for the site plus rights the creator has and both have to be taken into account.

The developments in the 23 Things program (training for library staff to learn about web 2.0 technology via hands on play) were covered including a talk about how library staff are affected by completing the program and how it has moved out of the library world and is being used for diverse groups and subjects such as primary school teaching, academia, archivists, researchers, general professional development, and is now being run by some libraries for the general public. There was also a discussion about moving beyond the 23 and how one site is up to 70 things and another is up to 60, and the need to keep the ‘things’ fresh and relevant.

Conclusion

I got a lot out of the conference, some new sites to explore, a stronger understanding of how changes in technology are affecting our industry and how our industry is rising to the occasion and staying relevant. I have a list of new technologies to play with and become familiar with. If anyone gets the chance to attend one of these in the future jump at it, and if you see me listed in one of the sessions say hello!

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