Location, Location, Location

As a side note, I’ve noticed a huge jump in the site’s stats this week thanks to, I’m assuming, the conference. We’re talking more than double my normal readership. Granted, I’m still in the double digits for visits and low triples for page views. But the growth on a percentage basis is striking. Yesterday was an all time high!

Taking aim

Blake Carver’s CiL2k5 wrapup makes for great reading. He claims it isn’t a well polished essay, but the writing style and content is still beyond anything I’ve managed to toss together.

I think I’m still in “kid in the candy store” mode; something new keeps catching my eye, and the conference had an abundance of shiny things to distract me.

For example I’d completely forgotten to mention the inside jokes. As is their nature, there’s probably no way to recount the hilarity here. Suffice it to say that Stephen Abram is indeed The Man, and an inspiration to us all.

I also somehow forgot about the Core Bloggers/Non-Core “split”. It’s a bunch of hooey if you ask me. The core people all earned it in some way or another. I wasn’t made one, nor do I have any illusion that I should have been. ITI has the right to present what they feel will be best written coverage of the conference. And its not like the rest of us were totally excluded either, the blogdigger group allowed for exposure, and in fact I’m really surprised there weren’t more bloggers on the list. All I had to do was send a nice e-mail asking to be added – no credentials required.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the presence and intelligence of everyone, being the new kid on the block. As a result I was probably a bit quieter than I should have been, especially the first day or so. Having read a bunch of the library world’s blogs for months beforehand, it was like meeting a whole bunch of celebrities all at once. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was gracious and welcoming! It was just a lot to take in at first. I’d love the chance to make a wider impression either at next year’s CiL, or at Internet Librarian this fall.

Going back to Blake’s writings, he brings up the need for librarian bloggers to “…look at how we did things and look for the next step.” So I got thinking:

What about the idea of a collaborative blog somewhere as a conference journal of sorts? Imagine something like LISnews.com dedicated solely to a single event or series of events. I think the concentration level of bloggers at CiL this year had enough critical mass to make such a site worth reading. It might even be possible to use RSS to auto-harvest relevant posts from everybody’s blogs. (Structured Blogging might help here) I realize the blogdigger group already did this to a degree, but it had the flaw of capturing every post every member made, CiL related or not. And it will continue to capture posts from now on, making it less useful as an archive. As a side effect of the modified system, you’d get one RSS feed compiling all conference-related postings, Core and not. Take it a step further and put out a bi-monthly regular e-journal. It could go a long way towards combating attitudes such as Gorman’s rejection of blogging as too non-scholarly.

Or how about implementing our own tagging system, separate from Technorati? It could be more specialized and topical to the LIS world. Since Technorati still doesn’t seem to be parsing my links right for tags, I’d be 110% behind such an idea… If the fractionalization of that idea bothers you, then why not isntead set up an agreed upon controlled vocabulary of tags to use for the more common topics?

I’m not an idea man, so if even I can come up with basic stuff like that in a few quick minutes, I’m sure the LIS blogosphere as a whole can outdo them. Let’s get cracking!

Flickr News Flash!

So I was just browsing the Flickr Blog…

Yahoo is buying Flickr!

I never heard any of these rumors that supposedly foretold the purchase, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

Now I’m torn between upgrading to a paid account now for the “super mega bonuses” and waiting for the cheaper version to come… I’m also assuming functionality remains the same. Crossing my fingers.

Final Thoughts

Well Supershuttle got me to the airport alright, I just have 3 hours until my flight… le sigh. No wireless available either, so I’ll backdate this post appropriately. Speaking of the lack of wireless, it really does surprise me. Even Pittsburgh has it, and Dulles is a far larger site. I suppose size could impose problems on access point deployment, but I figured the larger airports would have had the job done first.

Figured I’d use the time to reflect on Computers in Libraries 2005 while its all still fresh in my head.

In short: I loved it!

I’m so energized, so excited about the librarian profession, its unbelievable! There’s a lot of mind-boggling tech applications coming down the pike; there’s going to be a lot of change during my career. My classes have never gotten me this psyched.

I think a large part of my excitement comes from the people. This was my first chance to interact with so many like-minded people since I started school. My professors are all very competent, but none of them are practicing librarians. It’s the age old theoretical/practical split.

These people just… wow. All the librarians I met are jaw droppingly intelligent and interesting people. The stereotype of the bun-haired, stern, anti-social librarian is going the way of the dodo, as if I didn’t know that already. As Andrea said to me: “I like you, Chad. You’re a geek, but you talk like a normal person!”

I’m by far a junior member of the club, or maybe even not a member at all yet. In fact, I’d wager money that I was the youngest attendee at the conference by at least a couple of years. But still, everybody was extremely welcoming and anxious to talk to me.

I’ve always been sort of a techie. More so in recent years I guess. While a lot of material presented at CiL wasn’t exactly new to me, the applications of it to the library world were. See my previous posts about individual sessions for more detail on that front, I’ve covered it about as much as I can. Yes a couple of sessions were duds, but that’s to be expected anywhere.

I got more than I thought I would out of the vendor exhibits, too. They weren’t too willing to talk to me once they found out I’m still a lowly student with no purchasing power. But seeing their product demonstrations allowed me to picture a lot of things more clearly. RFID in a library setting for example, or advances in self-checkout and return. And at the least I’ll be able to recognize which companies are in the IS field by name.

I really can’t wait to get out there in the field, putting into practice what I’m learning. A week ago, the notion of having just five months before school is done was terrifying. Now, its exciting.

On a lighter note, I also have to give some props to my cargo pants. Cargo pants are perhaps the most underappreciated tech accessory on the market today. Thanks to the big side pockets I was able to carry around my camera, phone, assorted cords, and still have two hands free for a notebook and brochures. All this without the need to resort to a bag, which I surely would have lost at least thrice.

Hey you bloggers out there: I loved meeting you this week. Drop me a comment with your blog’s address so I can add you to my aggregator. I have a good bunch of you already, but I know there’s some I’m missing.

Hmm, I wonder what food is available in this concourse…

Computers in Libraries 2005 – Day 4

When: Saturday, March 19 2005
Where: Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
My Role: Attendee
Michael Stephens on March Madness: “I don’t follow the volleyball.”

Last day done… sniff sniff.

Gonna be a bit more abbreviated tonight, since I’m getting started later and enjoying hanging out in the lobby at the same time. I’ll stick to the sessions I really enjoyed.

Keynote – Delighting the Real User: Personas in Action – Stephen Abram, Mary Lee Kennedy

I love Stephen Abram, by far the most entertaining speaker of the conference.

95% of U.S. public libraries have internet access. ONLY 95? That honestly surprised me. So pick 20 libraries at random and 1 will not have internet access. Not even dial up! Poor guys…

We need to understand people at a fundamentally different level: Why they need what they do, not just what they need. User-centered, but to a whole new level. Similarly, we should start adapting to the consumers rather than ask them to adapt to us.

For example, millenials tolerate zero delays in their information requests. We (yes, I am included in this generation, barely) have entirely different learning styles brought about from growing up with computers and more multimedia. So hire me! As a senior member of the millenials (circa 1982) I’ll be sure to provide valuable insights. 🙂

Abram also brought up LibraryNormativeData.info, it looks like a fascinating set of data but I have yet to have time to explore it.

Search Engine Panel – Greg Notess, Ran Hock

Was a thrill to realize Notess was speaking, I’ve read a bunch of his stuff in classes. I’ve got new search engines to explore: Exalead, Gigablast, and Wisenut. Maybe not so much Wisenut, but the other two look interesting.

Try other search engines than Google – your users are using them, believe it or not.

Prediction: In 2 years, Google will look much more like Yahoo does now. I agree, its already happening. Gmail, Picasa, etc. Meanwhile Yahoo is becoming more like Google to survive.

Lots of interesting demonstrations on how Google Print and Google Scholar are not quite ready for prime time yet. I unfortunately can’t recall the details, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t rely on either for serious research yet. A9 is much more direct for searching full text of books.

Leading Edge Technologies & Libraries: Biometric Security Measures and Quantum Computing – Perry Bratcher, Roy Balleste

Bratcher’s section on biometrics was fascinating, chock full of real world examples. Apparently Buffalo already has fingerprint scanners for checking books out!

A couple of interesting motivational factors he brought up that might spur public acceptance of biometric measures. First: September 11th. Second: Recent examples of large scale identify theft.

30% of all calls to IT are lost password-related! Imagine the time savings if biometrics could cut those down to zero.

Another interesting tidbit, fingerprint scanners don’t directly compare images of fingerprints. The data goes through some sort of hashing process and these “fingerprint fingerprints” as I call them get compared.

Balleste’s section on quantum computing was met by lukewarm reception from the audience. Some even got up and left. A shame really, I think the spiel was just too technical and physics-related for most. Personally I find the topic really interesting, even if I don’t understand it all. Balleste did the best he could with very limited time on a very complex topic. And you can’t deny that the prospect of computers a billion times more powerful than our current ones is intriguing.

And that was the end of the official sessions. So sad! I crashed for about an hour and then attended the final dine-around. It was blogging-themed, so pretty much everybody I’ve gotten to know here was in attendance. Even if I’m still hazy on a bunch of names…

We ate at Thaiphoon, possibly the wittiest name for a Thai restaurant ever. Small place, we filled up a good portion of it. Hung out on Connecticut Ave on the way back, and then back here to the lobby for blogging and merriment.

That’s all folks! I’ve had a blast and will write a wrap-up entry either tomorrow in the airport or once I’m back in da Burgh.

Well the piano has been hacked, so that’s my key to go pay attention.

Live Blogging

Coming to you live, from outside the Washington Hilton…

Outdoor wireless is a beautiful thing. The sun is out and 56 degrees! This is the first time I’ve been comfortable in short sleeves since…. well I dunno when. Ages.

So here’s what I can see right now! I realize this is no more or less ‘live’ than any other blog entry, but for some reason being outdoors makes it feel special.


I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Time to return inside for the free drinks and snacks and resume seminaring. One was cancelled this afternoon that I really wanted to go to, providing this free time. More on that later, with my standard day’s wrap-up.


As reported on a number of other blogs, there’s a brief mention here of CIL2005 by CBS! Scroll down a bit to see it.

Love the positive coverage.

Now I’m off for breakfast and the final keynote.

Computers in Libraries 2005 – Day 3

When: Thursday, March 17 2005
Where: Washington Hilton, Washington D.C.
My Role: Attendee
Day 3… really energizing!

No pictures that came out very well, sorry.

Keynote: Bruce James, CEO of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

“Perpetuity is a long time.”

James gave a rather by-the-book, step by step talk on his experience at the GPO. Still very interesting, though.

He was brought in and put in charge two years ago to, as he said, bring the GPO from the 19th century to the 21st. There’s been unique problems: floors of concrete 3 feet thick were built to support printing presses, not run ethernet cables.

James seems like a very common sense manager, which I appreciate. He concentrated on recruiting “the true talent” which had been languishing in mid-levels of his own organization and moving them up to management.

Today, more than 50% of government documents are born digital. I’m surprised it wasn’t higher. 256 thousand documents from the back-catalog have been digitized to date, and only 3 million to go… Eventually plans are to phase out government document printing entirely.

Social Software 101 – Matthew Dames

As a side note, Dames is also a DJ which I found cool.

A lot of stuff I already knew covered here, but it was great to see it all synthesized. And there was some new knowledge too, like I’d never considered gaming as social software before – but it makes sense.

5 categories of social software were covered:
Enabling, Messaging (e-mail, IM), Contextual (searching), Community (blogs), and Analysis. The middle three are sort of the core and were covered more extensively.

Dames’ idea of blogging system back-ends replacing HTML-coded sites with customized front-ends was very intriguing. I don’t see HTML going away, as it has a very low barrier to entry that’ll appeal to the masses for a while yet. But I do admit to loving the relatively simple yet complex customizability that WordPress provides.

3 Future Directions for Libraries:
-Community – we do it well
-Context – we provide it

I felt like standing up and applauding at one of his closing topics:
Tools that seem to get people out of libraries can in fact bring them in. Example: IM. There are statistics to back it up that I unfortunately forgot to write down… d’oh.

Linux-Based Public Workstations – Issues & Application – Perry Horner

I was hoping for a more step-by-step explination of the exactly what system was implemented here, and unfortunately didn’t get it. Mainly a promo session for Linux, which I’ve heard before. A couple interesting quotes though:

“Games are what drive technology.”
-Horner made the point that once major games start appearing for Linux people will have more of an excuse to use it. He predicts they’ll show up in ’07.

“The end user doesn’t care what the OS is.”
-Many of Horner’s users still thought they were using Windows. If the OS does what they need it to, that’s good enough.

Collaboration & IM: Breaking Down Boundaries – Aaron Schmidt, Michael Stephens

Of course I’m partial to these two speakers as fellow bloggers and people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. But I still greatly enjoyed the presentation.

27% of Americans are on IM, and 7 billion messages are sent each day. Mind boggling!

Interesting point: Make any logging of reference IM sessions (useful in review) transparent to the user or disable it entirely. It avoids difficulties later on.

Best practices for using IM in libraries:
-Make it part of your tech plan
-Promote screen name & chosen service
-Administration at the library should be messaging too
-Train & encourage staff to use IM at their desks
-Add IM name to your business card
-Use a multi-network client
-Use away messages, and keep them updated
-Go for speed over perfection in typing in a reference transaction
-Use abbreviations
-Use online sources only if that is the best available answer
-Don’t panic

Can’t really argue with any of those!

Anybody know what ‘aam’ stands for in IM lingo? It was in a sample conversation Aaron showed, and nobody in the audience could decipher it.

Optimizing Technology in Libraries – Michael Stephens, Jeff Steely

I got the feeling some of the crowd wasn’t entirely behind what was said here, though I didn’t have a problem with it.

Tech is a tool, and must fit with a vision. Avoid technolust for its own sake. But yet, tech can still be transformative and waves of change are set to come.

I didn’t take as many notes here as I got swept up in Michael’s enthusiastic presentation in particular, but here’s a bit of stream of consciousness:

Why not use IM instead of costly virtual reference systems that don’t always work?
Related: Don’t be afraid to cut off what isn’t working, even if time and money are invested in it.
Also related: Be aware of and recognize mission creep. Don’t overextend your reach in a tech project.

LISNews – Collaborative Blogging – Blake Carver

Blake gave a great overview of his experience running LISnews.com, a sort of Slashdot for the library world.

He sees comments as perhaps the core element of the site, which I agree with. Discussion is the whole point.

Interesting, the “Save the Children” stories are the most popular on the site. Censorship of content for them and such.


The reception was unremarkable tonight. I had a number of vendors try to sell me circulation systems and database access, and they were utterly uninterested in talking about job prospects and such. But they’re in sales, not HR, so what did I expect? Free wine and cheese and other munchies were good again as expected.


I went to the “Library Blogs, Collaborative Communities & Wireless Applications” dine-around tonight. We had to relocate to Bucco di Beppi due to size of our party, and I’m sure I’m botching that spelling.

Merryment was had by all, though I admit we touched on the assigned topic only for brief periods at a time. I was struck by my utter youth when compared to everyone else there. But all were very friendly and fun to talk with. Our waiter found the notion of a large group of librarians out together hilarious and was good fun.