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See You Next Year

CIL 2008 is now history.  Plans for next year will soon be underway.  Check the Information Today website for dates and location.  And if you have a speaking proposal, the Call For Papers will be issued in July.  Watch for it.

I hope you enjoyed the conference as much as my colleagues and I have enjoyed bringing it to you on this blog.

Bye for now and see you next time!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator

More Great Tools

Steve Cohen can always be counted on to give you a great, humorous, information-packed presentation, and he did not disappoint us.  This year, he focused on RSS.  You can see all his links on his wiki.  He highly recommends Google’s Reader as the best one for RSS, and he’s not alone; it has become the market leader.  Steve says that in these days, we should not be going out to the Web to get content–we should be having it come to us.  And he sets a good example because he has 950 (!!) feeds in his reader.

Steve always furnishes his audiences with a list of his favorite tools, which you can also see on his wiki page (along with links to them).  Thanks, Steve, for your generosity in sharing your expertise with us.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL2008 Blog Coordinator

Libraries as Happiness Engines

Is your library in the happiness business? Liz Lawley, director of the Lab for Social Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology, says that libraries are more than just a place—they act as the emotional centers of their communities and places where people can feel happy. In her keynote address on Wednesday, she stressed the fun and motivational side of games and how libraries can use this to everyone’s advantage. (She looks pretty happy in this pre-presentation photo with Jane Dysart.)

People are really getting interested in functionality and fun – “productive play” is a wonderful term. (Think of the Mary Poppins song where “the task is not a grind.”) Instead of assigning a library research project, make it a game—like “Super Sleuth” Here’s an example of a summer reading program—Get a Clue @ your Library. It’s a powerful motivator that we don’t use often enough, she says.

She described a game called Social Genius that she developed while working at Microsoft. It encourages the recognition of colleagues within an organization—users get points for updating their bios and photos and for the more people they can correctly identify within their organization.

For many people, virtuality is beating reality. People think they’re not good at life, so they escape to gaming and virtual worlds. But, real world colleagues can be online playmates and the online world is becoming connected to the real world. Games can serve as “gateway drugs.” For example, Guitar Hero has encouraged people to learn real guitar (it takes advantage of the longing for the tangible).

“Virtual is not making the tangible go away,” she says, and this is important for libraries. How does your library make people feel happy, playful, and real? Make tangible connections. Make your library a space that connects the virtual and the real.

Liz’s presentation will be linked from her blog within a few days at

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI

Great New Ways to Experience the Library of Congress


The Library of Congress has been closed this week, which was surely disappointing to some CIL attendees who would’ve liked to visit. But it was for good reason: The staff there is busy preparing for a major event this Saturday, April 12. That’s the official launch date for the "Library of Congress Experience," an amazing suite of interactive digital displays.

Sure, you could see some of LC’s collections online in the past. But now the staff has digitized much more — including such treasures as the one-of-a-kind Mainz bible and vellum Gutenberg bible. As of the 12th they’ll be online, but also completely available inside LC via cutting-edge touchscreens that let you view page-by-page, zoom in, and learn from added descriptions.

These touchscreens are available for various collections and, as Librarian of Congress James Billington said during today’s special press conference, the Experience will make many "stunning details" accessible "for visitors of all ages and all educational levels."

 Watch for an ITI NewsBreak to be posted next week, with more details and photos!

~Kathy Dempsey

Marketing Library Services editor