Yesterday afternoon, Bonnie and I arrived in surprisingly sunny Seattle. We're at a small hotel within walking distance of the convention center and a Top Pot. Delish! After checking in and sorting our emails and other work stuff (I handed in the first of two final assignments), we went off in search of food. We stopped by the ACRL of Oregon happy hour, but the place was packed. We then wandered to the College Inn, one of my favorite places in the city (second only to Mary Gates Hall in terms of where I've spend the most time!). We joined the iAlumni group in the back and I had a lovely chat with a woman at the iSchool who work for Alumni relations/development. We chatted a bit about the recent announcement that the residency requirement will be removed from the program and she assured me that this was not a decision taken lightly, and in fact has been in discussion for at least two years. This makes me feel more confident about the decision, but I will still miss the opportunity to travel northwards to meet up with my cohort and other online students.
This morning, after breakfast at the aforementioned Top Pot, we headed to the convention center to check in. A snazzy tote bag and coffee mug were obtained (and the former is being progressively filled with fliers and pens!). I wandered around the exhibition hall and checked out some new microfilm/fiche readers and scanners and the dizzying array of vendors. It's a bit weird to walk around an exhibit hall like that knowing that you really have no say over budget lines (or real concern for budget lines). Everything appears shiny and amazing without a price tag.
After the exhibit hall, I headed out to the lectures. I caught the end of a discussion on information literacy, which I really hope will be posted online. However, I did see Campus Disconnect: Academic Libraries and the Information Needs, Skills, and Behaviors of Non-teaching University Staff, presented by Cara Bradley of the University of Regina. She undertook a survey of staff on campus (distinct from faculty and students) to try to understand why they did or did not use the library and how better to attract and serve this potential users and advocates. The difference in needs from the students was particularly noteworthy - instead of looking for what is cheap and fast (typically the undergraduate focus), staff members wanted materials that were accurate and current. Staff members want assistance with evidence-based decision making, locating the best data possible, and stress reduction. Bradley gave an example of how a staff member related how he spent 6 hours on the phone to locate data. Bradley went back to her desk and located the same data in 15 minutes! Since at my library we really do need a new space, it would be wonderful to pull more staff members into the library to not only assist them in their work, but to really make them see just what a valuable resource we are to the entirety of the university community.
Something I didn't expect from this lecture was how useful the comments and question portion would be. Many librarians who have undertaken similar projects or outreach efforts related some of their solutions and strategies, many of which I scribbled down. A conference is of course intended as a place to share information and ideas, but I guess I didn't realize the ideas would be so practical or audience-generated.
After lunch, I attended a session on E-books, where the presenters (Andrew Revell and Aaron Shrimplin from Miami University Library in Oxford, Ohio) spoke on their research regarding user perceptions of the format. They utilized Q methodology, which is a fascinating mixed-method approach. What I took away from this lecture was the realization that out of their 4 generated viewpoints, 3 contained the idea that people do not like reading off of a computer screen. It will be interesting to see how readers like the new Kindle will impact this opinion, but I think it will have to come down substantially in price before we see a larger user base.
Up next is Sherman Alexie's keynote, which I've been looking forward to since I registered.
7 months ago