Cataloguing Flash Mob: Update

It’s been one month since I hosted the Cataloguing “flash mob” party at my library, and I wanted to write a post about how it all went down. If you didn’t hear about this event, you can check out my initial post, and read about it on the TBG’s website.

The idea came about one Saturday at work (April 20), when a volunteer and I remarked at the massive amounts of cataloguing that had to be done. The idea of hosting a cataloguing event was proposed that day, and I’d imagined that we might be able to attract 15-30 people to help out over the two days we had in mind, which were Saturday May 4th and Sunday the 5th. It was the beginning of spring and the weather was exceptional, so we maintained a realistic sense of optimism that perhaps at least 15 people would be interested in participating over the course of that weekend. Because really, who would want to stay inside all weekend and catalogue books… right?

The following Monday (April 22), I sent an email to my boss to ask if she thought it would be a good idea, and her response was that I should go for it. The event was to take place less than two weeks from the date the idea was imagined, so there was a lot of work to do.

On April 23 I sent messages to the SLA-TOR listserv (Special Libraries Association, Toronto), the TSLIS Network listserv (Toronto Special Libraries and Information Services Network), and the Seneca College LIT program coordinator inviting Toronto-area information professionals to help out. I also put out the word on Twitter and Facebook.

Almost immediately, I received emails from individuals who were interested in participating. I was (and continue to feel) incredibly blown away by the overwhelming response this event received. In just a matter of days, there were nearly 50 enthusiastic people signed up for the cataloguing event. By the 4th, I’d heard from about 65 professionals in the Toronto-area who RSVP’d that they were coming. Some came from as far as Kingston!

Now, while I did receive a tremendous amount of positive feedback for the event’s innovativeness, ingenuity, and uniqueness… It was not without its detractors. Much of the criticism that I received for the event surrounded the idea that cataloguing is a skill and practice that shouldn’t be devalued through volunteer work. Also, that by calling for volunteer help, it was taking away from possible paid opportunities or a student internship. I did (and do) appreciate this feedback and criticism, because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I was really doing, and how it was being received by the library and information community. However, after careful reflection, I didn’t (and don’t) feel that the event in any way was taking away opportunities, devaluing cataloguing, or taking advantage of anyone. The spirit of the event was to contribute one’s cataloguing skills and bibliographic interests through volunteerism to improve access to information and the betterment of a small library at a non-profit and charitable organization. Also, it was meant to be a fun networking opportunity, and a chance to participate in a unique project.

My favourite of all criticisms was a post written about my cataloguing event on the ALA’s “Annoyed Librarian” blog, titled “A Cataloging Sweatshop?”. Please have a look, and be sure to read the comments section.

So, less than 14 days from its inception, the Cataloguing Flash Mob Event began on the 4th. Eager cataloguers trickled into the library at 9:30 in the morning, and the room was soon full of laptops, extension cords, library books, and cups of coffee. By 7:30 p.m., the last cataloguer packed it in, and we left for the day. On the 5th, it was the same sort of scene. However, my greatest fear was realized when we crashed the internet, and were without access to z39.50 clients for about an hour and a half. We regained access to the web, and continued cataloguing, again until about 7:30 p.m. when we were kicked out of the building by the TBG’s caretakers.

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In summary, the “mob” catalogued over 900 titles in two short days. It was a really fun event, and I am more than happy about how it all went down. People seemed to really enjoy themselves, and had positive feedback about our library’s new ILS (Koha). I’m also looking forward to presenting a session on this event at the 2014 OLA Super Conference which will explore the project in more detail.

Photos of the event can be found on the TBG’s Facebook page. Click here to see the photos!

Thanks for all of your support and feedback!

Cataloguing party at my library, May 4th & 5th!

In the past decade, a popular and growing phenomenon has been the proliferation of flash mobs across the world. A “flash mob” has been defined as “a group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration” (source). These mobs have taken shape as choreographed dance routines, protest movements, pillow fights, and even for the purpose of cataloguing a library’s book collection. In this last example, it is essentially when a group of people come together to catalogue an entire library collection for the greater good of access to information. While not necessarily the same as a “flash mob”, a similar cataloguing challenge was achieved at The Center for Cartoon StudiesSchulz Library in 2011, when volunteers came together to add new barcodes to the entire collection. Ever since I learned about the project at Schulz, I’ve been inspired by the idea of bringing people together to build a catalogue. In a sense, it really is a cataloguing party!

The idea of hosting a “cataloguing party” (for the lack of a better name) has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and what follows explains why…

A major project that I am spearheading at my library is the migration of our integrated library system (ILS) and catalogue from InMagic DB/Textworks to an open source online platform called Koha. It has proven to be a herculean task for me as a solo-librarian, and I have sought the help from two skilled and talented volunteers to help move the project along. The catalogue migration project has been especially tricky and time-consuming because the format of InMagic records are not MARC-based. InMagic records are comprised (for the most part) of free-text bibliographic fields (e.g. Call number, Title, Author, Publisher, Year, Subject(s) etc.), rather than the specificity involved with MARC fields (e.g. 082, 100, 245 $a/$b, 260 $a/$b/$c, 650 $a/$x$v$z, etc.). So the greatest challenge of migrating the library’s catalogue has been creating MARC records from the records exported from InMagic. For more on how we achieved this, see our OLA Poster Session presentation “ILS on a shoe-string budget: open source software in a non-profit organization“. To make a long story short, the library consists of approximately 9,500 titles, and we have successfully migrated 5,000 of those into the new Koha ILS, leaving roughly 4,500 records to go. Just over half of the collection is searchable and catalogued, and we need to get the other half up and online.
Here’s where the “cataloguing party” comes in…

THE CHALLENGE:

Help the Toronto Botanical Garden‘s Weston Family Library complete the migration of their collection by contributing your copy-cataloguing skills! There are 4,500 records left to go, and our goal is to get them all catalogued in 2 full days. Is it crazy? Maybe. Ambitious? Yes! Possible?? With your help, DEFINITELY!

WHERE:

Weston Family Library at the Toronto Botanical Garden
777 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto



WHEN:

Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5, 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. (or whenever you can join) until we’re finished! The time commitment is whatever you can contribute.

WHY:

  • There will be coffee, pizza, and prizes!
  • It will be fun, a good cause, and a unique way to network, meet other professionals, and refresh or develop your cataloguing skills!
  • Because many hands make light work.
  • But in all seriousness, because the Toronto Botanical Garden is a non-profit educational organization with limited financial resources that functions through the generosity and assistance of volunteers. The TBG Library is an invaluable resource, and plays a significant role to support Toronto’s horticultural and community needs, and the TBG’s mission as an educational organization. Having a public, online, and searchable catalogue will help the Weston Family Library enter the 21st century.

SIGN UP:

If you have any questions, want to join, or have any other inquiries, please contact me at librarian@torontobotanicalgarden.ca or call 416-397-1375.

THANK YOU for your consideration!

I hope to see you on May 4th and/or 5th. Be there or be square!

Adventures in Library Promotion: Buttons

It’s been an embarrassingly long time since my last post, but for a good reason. In January I took a new position as the Head Librarian at the Toronto Botanical Garden‘s Weston Family Library, and since starting in this new role I have been busy, busy, busy. The TBG is home to the largest private horticultural library in Canada, and includes materials in the broad area of domestic horticulture. “What’s that, though?”, you ask? For the most part it’s floral arrangement and design, gardening, herbs, plant biology, ornithology, garden and plant history, literature, biography, landscape design and architecture, green roof information, sustainability initiatives, urban agriculture, balcony gardening, food security, wildlife, plant identification, etc. It’s an amazing specialized collection, and I’m thrilled to be working there.

One of my responsibilities as Head Librarian is to actively promote the library’s collections, services, and programs. I tackle this through a number of traditional means, such as brochures, bookmarks, on the web and using social media, but most recently I had a new and exciting idea: buttons! Now I know what you may be thinking… it’s not new (and some may not think it’s very exciting), but I’m ready to change your mind. Buttons are cute, inexpensive to create, trendy, and if done properly with creativity, they are a lot of fun. I should also state that I’m referring to 1″ buttons, not their 2.25″  “uncool” distant relative that we’ve seen throughout our lives. Also, some people call them “pins”, but I don’t.

A preface and some context to my newfound interest in buttons: Every year, the Word on the Street Festival takes place in participating cities across Canada. If you haven’t been before, it’s a celebration of books and magazines, authors, publishing, literacy and everything in-between. This year in Toronto it will take place on September 23rd at Queen’s Park Circle, from College Street all the way to Bloor. It’s a terrific and free event that draws hundreds of thousands of people annually. This year I was very keen to have a booth for the Toronto Botanical Garden at the festival to highlight the library, host author signing, promote the TBG’s adult and children’s education, and overall to get the word out about the organization. It has been a blast to plan and co-ordinate the activities for our booth, and I’m getting pumped for the 23rd to be here. In preparation for the event, I wanted to have something to give away at the booth that would grab the interest and attention of passersby, and work as a tool to promote our presence at the festival and as a destination in the Toronto area. Clearly, I chose buttons. Luckily for me, another department at the TBG conveniently had a button-maker on the premises.

I got the idea from the University of Waterloo Libraries, who have been doing this for the past year or so. Check them out here. In the beginning I was just making buttons with the TBG logo, ones that say “Weston Family Library”, etc. Standard branding. However, things got really fun when I had another idea, to create unique, one-of-a-kind buttons from our discarded books. My library receives a lot (thousands) of donated books on a yearly basis, and depending on the relevance, need, and shape they’re in, we either include the donation into the collection, or we sell them for a few bucks. Unfortunately for the used books that are not sold (usually ones from the ’70s or ’80s about gardening), we recycle them or re-donate them to a Value Village. Since we have boxes and boxes of books in the last category, I thought, “Why not make buttons from the images and text in these old books? They’re being discarded anyway!” There is some really colourful, comical, and interesting (albeit, often not useful and sometimes harmfully outdated) literature that we discard, so I’m glad we can reuse these materials somehow.

It’s become a real hobby, and I’m even considering buying my own personal button making machine just for fun. Check out some of the buttons I made below:

The availability of think tank literature in Canadian academic libraries

Below is the text from a poster presentation that I delivered at the Canadian Library Association 2012 National Conference and Trade Show, May 30-June 2, 2012 in Ottawa. An image of the poster itself is above.

Introduction:

Think tanks are in the business of creating innovative ideas to address policy issues, which are disseminated through timely, well-researched publications made available for free or at a nominal cost. In 2007, L. DeLong published “Do think tanks matter to libraries?” which revealed “if not surprising, rather unsettling” results of the absence of this literature in Canadian library collections. The study drew on public and academic libraries across Canada and identified that only 31% of the publications sampled were available. As think tanks produce highly relevant literature to many academic disciplines, the disparities in visibility and inclusion in Canadian research libraries are worth re-visiting.

Objectives and Purpose:

  • To determine if think tank research, rich in policy-relevant academic study, is being included in academic library collections.
  • Update and contribute to DeLongʼs 2007 study: is the relative absence of think tank literature still a problem? What has changed?
  • To identify if library research guides include information on think tanks.

Methodology:

  • Six Canadian think tanks were chosen, ranging in area of focus (environment, economics, social issues, and international politics), and political lean (conservative-right, non-partisan, liberal-left). The organizations chosen were:
  1. C.D. Howe Institute
  2. Caledon Institute of Social Policy
  3. Conference Board of Canada
  4. Fraser Institute
  5. Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)
  6. Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development
  • Four publications were selected from each organization to be used as a sample for the study. Each at least 5 months old, substantial in length, and free. These publications were searched in the OPAC of eight large Canadian academic libraries, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia:
  1. Dalhousie University
  2. University of New Brunswick
  3. McGill University
  4. University of Ottawa
  5. University of Manitoba
  6. University of Saskatchewan
  7. University of Alberta
  8. Simon Fraser University
  • Subject guides were also consulted for the mention of think tanks and their activities.

Findings and outcomes:

  • The availability of the 24 publications differed greatly by library, however, this study found that since 2007 there has been an overall increase in the availability of think tank literature in Canadian academic library collections.
  • From the sample of 24 publications searched in the 8 library OPACs, only 99 were available out of a possible 192. Therefore 52% of the publications sampled in this study were available in library catalogues across Canada.
  • 5 of the 8 libraries maintained research guides that list Canadian think tanks, their activities, and resources.

Lessons Learned:
What has changed since 2007? The increase in availability from 31% to 52% is
worth noting, as well as the inclusion of think tanks within research guides. Consortium agreements among libraries, the expansion of electronic documents, and the advent of WorldCat OPAC systems at many academic libraries have also assisted with the visibility and access of think tank publications and other grey literature in Canadian academic libraries.
Works cited:

  • DeLong, L. “Do think tanks matter to libraries? Assessing the availability of Canadian think tanks publications in Canadian libraries and databases.” The Serials Librarian, Vol. 5 (3/4), 2007: 157-164.
  • Moon, J. “Microlog and the ʻCanadian Public Policy Collectionʼ – A comparison.” Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011: 1-13.
  • Tompkins, E. “Think tanks and public policy research institutes: An annotated bibliography.” Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2007: 11-27.
  • Umbach, K. “Think tanks on the web as a curriculum resource.” Knowledge Quest, Vol. 32, No. 5, May/June, 2004: 44-45.

Citation Analysis: Measuring impact and delivering value to your organization

At many non-profit and for-profit companies, it is important to measure the reach, influence, and success of the organization’s efforts. This is not always easy and sometimes not even feasible, but when quantification is possible, it should be carried out to gauge the impact of a task on an audience. This is often done through media monitoring, but what about measuring your organizations other outputs?

An organization’s publications (e.g. reports, conference proceedings, authored works, etc.) are a good starting place where impact can be measured, and in organizations where an information professional is employed, the work is cut out for them. Tracking and measuring the impact of your organization’s output is a clear-cut way to demonstrate your value, contribute to department goals, and generate useful statistics that will benefit your employer.

Many information professionals will be familiar with the concept of citation analysis, and its application in the activities of scholarly research. Citation analysis is a method of bibliometrics that attempts to gauge the impact of an author’s work through the frequency of being cited in other works. The process of citing acknowledges previous works, and debatably, implies that a work is significant. The practice of measuring the number of cites is predominantly of interest to authors and stakeholders in the sciences, and some in economics, but is helpful in other fields as well. Citation analysis is also prevalent (and of greater interest) in academic environments where an author’s published research enhances their clout, and professional profile.

Because of its wide acceptance in academic settings, many of the tools available to analyze citations do not incorporate “non-scholarly” literature (often termed “grey literature” e.g. working papers), since they do not undergo the same scholarly publishing process. The majority of grey literature is not indexed in proprietary or free citation databases, because it is not controlled by commercial publishing. Consequently, the trickiest aspect of measuring the impact of your organization’s output is that citation indexes will often not include the publications you seek to evaluate.

With these obstacles is mind, I compiled a list of tools for conducting citation analysis, some are fee-based and others are free:

  • Thomson Reuter’s Web of Science/Knowledge: (http://thomsonreuters.com/products_services/science/science_products/a-z/web_of_science/) (subscription required)
    Web of Science (WoS) is the premier citation index and includes an extensive range of very impressive analysis tools. With a lofty price tag, not every organization will be able to afford this product (and unfortunately, they do not offer a non-profit rate). The indexed content is drawn almost exclusively from scholarly journals and conference proceedings, and its historical coverage is unmatched. Free 30-day trials are available, and you can select from seven subject database packages based on subject area. Thomson Reuters also provides access to “Highly Cited Research” (http://www.highlycited.com), a free resource to identify highly cited authors and works. WoS is tremendously useful for tracking cites in academic journals, but quite disappointing for measuring citations from grey literature.
  • Elsevier’s Scopus: http://www.scopus.com/home.url (subscription required)
    Scopus is a slightly less expensive alternative to Web of Science, and boasts having “the largest abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources.” Scopus has a free author/organization lookup tool, which I highly recommend testing. This will give you an idea of your organization’s cited works in the Scopus indexed content. Similar to WoS, grey literature is relatively absent from this database.
  • Google Scholar: (http://scholar.google.ca/) (free)
    Using the advanced Google Scholar search option, you can perform searches by author name, or by affiliated organization to retrieve articles where either are mentioned or cited. This can be tricky however, as it is not possible to narrow search results to the bibliography or footnotes. Your search results might include many unwanted items. That said, Google does a much better job than WoS or Scopus of retrieving obscure and grey literature citation mentions.
  • Publish or Perish: (http://www.harzing.com/pop.htm) (free)
    Public or Perish (PoP) uses Google Scholar citations, and runs as standalone software that links to the web. You must first download PoP, then perform your citation queries to retrieve the analysis of an author or publisher’s works. It is less accurate than the fee-based products like Scopus or WoS, but PoP is also quite straightforward about its shortcomings. PoP performs much better than Google on the web, and as a free software, is worthwhile and effective.
  • CiteSeerX: (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/) (free)
    CiteSeerX focuses on (but is not limited to) literature in the areas of computer and information-science. As an index database, CiteSeerX is unique for adding complex metadata to its contents, which enable a greater capacity for linking documents, and locating related materials. Documents are automatically harvested from the web, so indexed content is continuously up-to-date. Try this tool in combination with others, as depending on the field of your organization and its outputs, CiteSeerX’s subject specificity might not track your publications.
  • Scirus: (http://www.scirus.com/) (free)
    Scirus is a science-specific index database encompassing a very wide range of web pages, government resources, academic articles, and special information sources (e.g. patent data from LexisNexis, technical reports from NASA, institutional digital repositories, etc.).  Scirus’ capabilities rival some fee-based indexes, and it also includes an impressive range of non-scholarly grey literature content.
  • RePEc: (http://repec.org/) (free)
    Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) is a database of over one million items, largely in the social sciences, economics, finance, and computer sciences. The items in RePEc are unpublished papers, non-commercially published materials, and also pre-published versions of academic articles. RePEc is useful for many types of organizations that produce literature because it encourages free and open dissemination of these materials throughout a variety of outlets. It works by users (e.g. authors of works, or information professionals on behalf on their organization) uploading publications and providing the metadata and bibliographic information. To perform citation analyses, RePEc has an embedded system for tracking these uploaded items. With this, you can quantify how often your publications are downloaded, cited, and shared. RePEc is also a collaborative effort with many other repositories, such as EconLit, EDIRC, and IDEAS.

Although these options may not provide the complete picture of your organization’s impact, I found that using a combination of these tools can produce a rough, but useful solution. Optimistically, there are ongoing developments in this field, such as Google Scholar Citations (http://scholar.google.ca/intl/en/scholar/citations.html), and Open Grey (www.opengrey.eu), and the maturation of these products will benefit the efforts of citation analysis for grey literature.

If your organization produces publications for stakeholders or a general audience, consider tracking cites through the abovementioned means. It will strengthen your value to the organization, and provide them with a quantifiable source of evidence-based measurement for organizational outputs.

Listed below are additional sources that review and compare citation analysis tools:

  1. Badia, Giovanna. “Google Scholar out-performs many subscription databases when keyword searching.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2010: 39-41. Available from https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/8543
  2. Bosman, J., et al. “Scopus reviewed and compared.” Utrecht University Library, 2006. Available from http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/DARLIN/2006-1220-200432/Scopus%20doorgelicht%20&%20vergeleken%20-%20translated.pdf
  3. Connor, E. “Searching for science: a descriptive comparison of CiteSeer, FirstGov for Science, and Scirus.” Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2005: 35-47.
  4. Pauly, D. And Stergiou K. I. “Equivalence of results from two citation analyses: Thomson ISI’s Citation Index and Google’s Scholar service.” Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, December 22, 2005: 33-35.  Available from http://www.int-res.com/articles/esep/2005/E65.pdf
  5. Science Intelligence and InfoPros. “Google Scholar Vs Web of Science: McDonalds Vs a Gourmet restaurant?!” December 7, 2010. Available from http://scienceintelligence.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/google-scholar-vs-web-of-science-macdonalds-vs-a-gourmet-restaurant/

Librarians & online content

I read something online recently that made my heart beat faster, and I felt that I had to get this out of my system. There’s a popular idea that because things can (and increasingly do) exist electronically, that the need for classification (and in a way, librarians) are not required or are becoming unnecessary. Please, let me convince you that this is absolutely not the case…

  • Digitization and digital books: People assume that with the advent of e-Publishing and scanning technology that libraries are going to digitize all of the print materials in the library. This is not the case, and would be illegal under copyright laws. Libraries do not own the rights to digitize and make published materials available online without consent of the publisher and sometimes the author(s), or other owners of the materials. There ARE many books that have been digitized because of their age, public domain, etc., but libraries are not, and I doubt will ever be, fully digitizing their collections.
  • Misconception that electronic materials don’t need to be organized: Call numbers, classification systems (e.g. Dewy Decimal, Library of Congress, etc.), shelves, and signage are long-held systems to help people find print items in a library. The equivalent tools exist for electronic materials: hyperlinks and URLs, controlled subject vocabularies, tags and keywords, images, book covers, etc. These fields are in place to help people find materials in the easiest way possible. Just like their print counterparts, electronic stuff has its own access points, unique to its medium. Digital books have a classification and cataloguing system of their own, and they’re usually established by librarians.
  • Librarians, search tools and the Internet: I heard there was a scene on Parks and Recreation where Amy Poehler’s character said to the librarian something about being unnecessary or replaced because of the Internet. I can’t stand this argument… It’s obviously a cinch to find basic information on Google, but not everything is indexed on search engines like Google. Information isn’t always free, and Libraries have the resources to pay to have them available for you through subscriptions. If you’re only looking for basic details about something, clearly a librarian isn’t required. If you’re looking for something substantial or specific… you might have to scroll through a shitload of Google results if you don’t know what you’re doing. The Internet holds an incomprehensible amount of information. While having made it quicker to find lots of cool stuff, it has also been made more challenging to find authoritative or quality information. Librarians and other information professionals are essential in organizing, processing and helping to make sense of it.
  • Librarians as “gatekeepers”, not custodians of information:Librarians aren’t threatened by the Internet, or think that our jobs are in danger because of it. We use the Internet to make finding stuff easier, and we help people to use the Internet to make their lives and work easier. Heck, it makes our jobs easier too.

Learning from relatives: academic, school, and public libraries

Librarians and information professionals who work in special libraries often stick together. This makes sense, of course, as they tend to serve like-minded users, provide similar information services, and face challenges unique to special libraries. Librarians in corporate, non-profit, law and “non-traditional” information centres must rarely (if ever) consider some of the fundamental and everyday decisions of their distant relatives, the public and academic librarians. While public librarians debate the impediments of children’s literacy, or academic librarians struggle to teach undergrads how to find a peer-reviewed journal article, the special library community faces entirely different user-needs and information management concerns. Despite these inherent professional differences, I believe there is much that can be learned from one another.

The Ontario Library Association’s annual Super Conference takes place each Winter at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This past January I attended the Super Conference with the hopes of reconnecting and networking with colleagues, liaising with vendors, and most importantly, learning from the experiences of other librarians.

Traditionally and informally, the OLA Super Conference is more or less a platform for library technicians, academic, school, and public librarians. There seem to be few special librarians in attendance at OLA. This year I pondered if librarians from special libraries could benefit from what the Super Conference has to offer. Coincidentally, the theme of this year’s conference was “The Power of C – Collaboration!” OLA President Mary Ann Mavrinac writes, “Collaboration makes us smarter. The power of collaboration is a catalyst for community engagement, communication, cooperation, connectivity, conversations, crowdsourcing, collectivism and collegiality” and further, “helps us make better choices for communal and collateral benefit” (source). I felt energized by this message of teamwork and camaraderie, and think that despite differences in the users we serve, that both groups can take away valuable and transferable lessons from each other’s major conferences.

When the Super Conference session schedule was released, I read some abstracts out of curiosity for what might be available. To my surprise, more than a handful stood out as innovative, interesting, and helpful in the context of my library’s current projects and workflow. Fully aware that I’m not the ideal audience for this conference, I registered reluctantly but excitedly.

Below are some sessions from the 2011 Super Conference that I enjoyed:

“Library Mashups: Exploring new ways to deliver library data” presented by Nicole Engard (Bywater Solutions): Highlighted various examples of how your library can incorporate the API (Application Programming Interface) from your current subscriptions (e.g. The New York Times) and embed that code within your library’s OPAC or website. Hypothetically then, you can present your users with seamless and immediate access to the latest content related to your organization’s focus. Additionally, introduce things like Google maps and other applications to your Library’s web page.

“Using Open Source Software in a shared integrated library system” presented by A. Rivers-Moore (Hanover PL), S. Leighton, (Grand Valley PL), W. Allen (Grey Highlands PL), and R. Dotten (Shelburne PL): Explored the challenges and successes of implementing the open source ILS, Koha. My library uses a number of open source platforms, Koha in particular. As the only librarian (and one with amateur open source abilities) it was a terrific opportunity to speak to others in the same situation about some of the obstacles and rewards involved in introducing free and open source software.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the diversity and depth of most sessions, though disappointed by the elementary coverage of some others. I heartedly recommend browsing the list of sessions for the 2012 Super Conference. You may be surprised at what you find! As the leaders of access and information management within our organizations, we should actively keep abreast developments, technologies and projects throughout the wider profession of librarianship in order to anticipate and meet the needs of our users. There is much to be learned from our librarian relatives in the academic, school and public environments, and there is much that we can teach them as well.