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A New Conference Dynamic?

Lorcan Dempsey’s post-conference post, Extending the Audience, contained some thoughtful comments about library bloggers, the topics they were discussing, and their relationship to the program itself.

He also reflected that his own presentation made him think about the audience – and realize that speakers are beginning to not only address the local audience at an event, but an extended audience mediated by the bloggers. Dempsey posits that this sets up a “new dynamic” worth watching as “face to face meetings continue to co-evolve with the network conversation.”

As conference organizers, we at ITI are working to extend the conference dynamic across many types of media. We hope our conference audiences and blog readers will join us in co-evolving the network conversation. Thanks for saying it so eloquently, Lorcan.

Nancy Garman
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It’s Back to Work We Go

Over 2000 librarians went back to work this week, energized and inspired by what they heard at Computers in Libraries 2006. Thousands more “virtual attendees” read blog posts here and on the blogs of over 40 bloggers who were at the conference.

The CIL 2006 tag aggregated posts on Technorati, Flickr,and elsewhere, offering those who could not attend a snapshot what was happening around the conference. Like last fall during Internet Librarian, the CIL tag was one of Flickr’s “Hot Tags” last week!

Nancy Garman
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21 Years Ago, Who Would Have Thought!

The 21st CIL conference is now concluded. When I think back 21 years to 1985, I’m amazed at all the changes that have occurred, not only in the information business but in the world at large. Back then, computers were just getting established in libraries and were used for fairly routine tasks. One of the main uses of computers then was for online searching, and it was primarily done by trained intermediaries. The database producers and aggregators were trying to figure out how to reach end users, but success eluded them except for some isolated instances. Now, of course, computers are found in a multiplicity of uses in libraries, so today we are concerned not only with the hardware, but also with applications and services. This is well exemplified in the subjects of the three keynote addresses at CIL 2006. They discussed searching and search engines, the mobile future, and the role of the Internet on the up and coming Millennial generation.

Searching is now part of the mainstream and is largely taken for granted. The conference organizers recognized this by devoting the first keynote to a report on advances in search engines by noted authority Chris Sherman. He told us that he had just returned from a search engine conference in China, where there are some unique search problems and issues. Although search engines are commonplace, they continue to change, develop, and add features. Indeed, some of them have added so much to basic searching that one wonders what business they really are in. For example, Sherman suggested that Google could be regarded as an advertising company, ISP, eBay clone, TV network, banker, mapping company, or perhaps a healthcare provider. Google has even branched out of this world and now provides maps of the moon and Mars!

Megan Fox told us that the mobile society is here, and it is critical to recognize that developing services for it is a necessity. She reviewed the devices and some services that we can expect to see coming in the near future. Libraries are beginning to cater to the mobile generation, and they must continue this trend.

Finally, Lee Rainie provided eight characteristics of the Millennial generation, which is the largest and most diverse generation in US history. So they will have a huge influence on libraries and the services they offer. Concepts of “smart mobs”, “continuous partial attention”, “soft surveillance”, and “information support” are entering the lexicon as a result of the lifestyles of this generation. Rainie’s keynote address was a clear call to action for librarians who must address the information habits and needs of Millennials.

If you were to ask me to nominate the presentation that made the biggest impression on me, I would have to vote for Mark Peterbaugh’s description of the use of gaming technology to develop a virtual interface to an academic library. The interface is innovative and forward-looking and is a fascinating use of a technology that is pervasive in today’s society. I expect to hear more about these virtual interfaces to libraries in the future.

So CIL is really no longer just about Computers in libraries—it has morphed into a technology conference on new applications in today’s Internet-dominated world. We were told at the outset that CIL 2006 had a record-breaking attendance of over 2,300 – and the final count was over 2,600. That fact alone shows that CIL is well tuned to the library arena and bodes well for its continuance and future success,

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Ready to Meet the Challenges

Conferences to me are all about networking, learning, asking questions and answering others, sharing, and really stretching our minds to embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s a chance to prepare for the challenges ahead. This year’s CIL certainly provided the opportunity for all these things. And, indeed, there are challenges, which can and should be seen as exciting possibilities. A number of sessions highlighted what libraries and librarians face: Web 2.0, digitization, new technologies, search engines, Google, and more.

I like how Gary Price put it in the Friday session titled SEs and Libraries: The role of libraries on the Internet. “Is there a role for libraries and librarians on the Internet? YES – and we need to speak up louder! It’s time to shine. We have huge roles as educators. Information literacy is more important than ever.” He noted that marketing and branding continue to be issues of concern for libraries. He advised attendees to learn from Google about the power of viral, word-of-mouth marketing.

Another speaker in that session, Chip Nilges of OCLC is responsible for the Open WorldCat program, a shared platform that adds a syndication model to WorldCat. It’s an exciting time to be working on behalf of libraries, he said. But the recent report on users’ perceptions of libraries noted that 84 percent of users start their research with a search engine. His advice: “The name of the game is meeting the user at the point of need.” To do this, Open WorldCat partners with Google, Yahoo Search, MSN, and Ask. For users it provides a “find in a library” function for book results. Recent enhancements include enhanced data feeds, inbound linking via ISBN, ISSN, OCLC number, and permalinks. All of this has more than doubled the traffic on WorldCat. It has also increased a library’s impact.

Challenges for the information professional? You bet. Bring it on.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.

KD’s Quote of the Day, #3

Everything has a price; it’s just not coming out of your pocket for this one.

K. Matthew Dames, publisher of Search & Text Mining Report, explaining part of the reason why everyone can search Google for free. In exchange for letting people search for “free,” Google gathers tons of information about users that the company can leverage in other ways.

Time to take all my new knowledge home!

Kathy Dempsey, CIL magazine, Editor-in-Chief