TLA 2008 in Dallas was as TLA always is—exciting and just fun! I always come back with so many things I’m going to try out when I get back home. Below are sessions I attended with just brief notes or new learnings or AHA’s. I didn’t get to attend as many sessions this year due to helping organize the Strong Libraries, Strong Scores conference within a conference. Being from the Dallas area, we had several top administrators attend including our superintendent. That was one highlight of the conference! I also volunteered in the Maximum Ride Internet Room. (Note to self: 4 hours is too long to volunteer) Anyway, below is what I grabbed from the sessions I attended.
Teaching Zach to Think—Alan November
Question: Why do Wikipedia articles come to the top of every Google search? No, it’s not because they pay. It’s because Google looks at the URL for your search term and Wikipedia uses the term in the URL of each encyclopedia entry. For example:Search Martin Luther King in Google and notice where the Wikipedia article is and notice the URL.Did you know users can now create their own customized Google Search page to search just the sites chosen by the user?See mine on Presidential Candidates. It was just something I threw together in about 3 minutes.I only selected the official website of each candidate and CNN’s election page. You can also invite others to add sites to the search.Mr. November really wants us to teach kids to dissect where the info is coming from. One interesting site he uses is: www.easywhois.comHere you can find out who really owns websites.
The Future of Catalogs—Roy Tennant
Roy Tennant of OCLC discussed the future or bleak future of our library catalogs. He asked participants to expunge OPAC from our vocabulary. Who knows what an OPAC is? (other than library people)His focus was the same thread I heard throughout the conference. Be where the users are.They shouldn’t have to come to us. We should go to them. He thinks in the future we may consider separate products for circulation processes and the user’s interface. As long as the 2 work together, they don’t have to come from the same vendor. Users want more than just our books. They should be able to get everything we have with one search. One stop shopping…Amazon does it! For an example of a “future catalog”, check out this Worldcat Identities.
Getting them where they live; Designing 21st Century Websites—Joyce Valenza
A thoughtful question posed; “How do we meet the learning needs of a generation of users who seek information, learn, play and communicate online?” Ms. Valenza seems to be doing a great job of this in her library already and is very lucky to be in a district with the attitude of basically opening up the web(wikis, blogs and tigers, oh my!) and then only blocking the problems that arise. She shared some really great tools she uses with students and a new one for me was PollDaddy. Social Network Among Digital NativesThis was a panel presentation with:Nancy Willard from the Center for Safe Internet Use presented the bulk of the program. Barry Bishop from Spring Branch ISD and Carol Brey Casiano from El Paso Public added issues and concerns from their respective institutions.Yet another great discussion about the great digital divide. Not the divide between those who have computers and those who don’t but rather the great divide between our young people who are cruising down the information highway vs. adults struggling to get online. New term learned: “Internet recess” described as that time where teachers take kids to the computer lab to explore while they grade papers or do some exploring on their own. This is the time when students are running into trouble and accessing things they shouldn’t be. Of course as we know, lab activities should be relevant and keep kids engaged in appropriate internet activities. And they should be monitored, monitored, monitored!!There was a nice comparison between “swimming” and “using the internet”. You would teach children about swimming and water safety before letting them loose in the water. By the same token we should teach kids safe searching and search strategies before letting them loose on a computer. In both cases you want them to stay in the shallow water while they are learning. I liked the comparison. Sometimes adults forget or just don’t realize there are things to teach on the computer.Great conference! Of course I enjoyed socializing with our own district librarians during the meal functions and hearing and seeing the terrific authors, Christopher Paul Curtis and Bluebonnet winner Lucy Nolan. Also, I couldn’t post about TLA without mentioning the outstanding performances by the Book Cart Drill Teamers. It was so entertaining and laugh out loud fun. Of course Walter Betts is always delightful. Big Kudos to our North Texas friends who participated from Denton and Irving ISD libraries!! You ladies ROCK!! I could only find this one on You Tube