Spring Libraryland Tour

A roundup of some of the happenings at library conferences throughout the country

April 10, 2012

Our mission with Outside/In has been to take useful ideas from the larger world of trends (outside) to see how they apply to libraries (in). In that vein, we’re bringing you a roundup from our spring Libraryland conference tour, during which we made several stops and met hundreds of amazing folks and organizations along the way:

Libraries and Librarians at SXSW

Michael received an invitation to speak at the 2012 SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, on a panel titled “Making Stories: Libraries and Community Publishing.” He joined Amy Buckland of McGill University in Montreal, Char Booth of Claremont (Calif.) Colleges Library, and Nate Hill of San Jose (Calif.) Public Library to discuss libraries and the future of publishing.

We talked about ways in which libraries are community-minded, technologically aware, and interested in preserving local cultural heritage. We also discussed the ways publishers and media work to aggregate and curate information for their readers, and how some libraries and librarians are taking the “maker” ethic to explore ways libraries can help their communities disseminate their own news, write their own stories, and even venture into publishing. (Listen to the audio recording of that session.)

This was Michael’s first time at SXSW. It turned out to be a useful, interesting, and sometimes odd learning experience. SXSW attracts marketers, web entrepreneurs, and web designers of all types, and the sessions reflect that makeup. For those in the library field, it’s a great place to get feedback about projects from a variety of outside experts, particularly on projects related to technology.

Some highlights from the conference included listening to Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan speak frankly about the future of music publishing, meeting O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly, and visiting the exhibit hall to talk with various vendors from outside our library conferences, such as WordPress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Make magazine. Hopping on the tricked-out Wired magazine party bus at 11 p.m. for karaoke, drinks, and nerdy conversation was pretty cool, too.

Roughly 90 librarians attended SXSW Interactive, some of whom also presented at panels. One librarian-related high point was hearing consultant Carson Block, whose session, “The Great Library Swindle: Your Rights Are at Risk,” was picked up by Time magazine’s tech blog. (Listen to the session here.) As SXSW described it, “Book publishers, municipal governments, and others seem hell-bent on library destruction, while many wonder if libraries are even relevant at all in the digital age. But if the library disappears, who will really defend your right to confidentially access free information? Business? The megaminds of the interwebs? Think again, compadre.”

PLA: E-Content and Amazing Librarians

The PLA National Conference, which is held every two years, was a whirlwind of librarians, ideas, meetings, presentations, and inspiration. Ebooks and e-content were hot topics of conversation. If you didn’t see the summary of the event from American Libraries online, be sure to check it out.

Computers in Libraries 2012

Both of us attended CIL 2012 and taught a three-hour preconference workshop about making videos for libraries. Video on the web changes quickly, so this workshop kept us on our toes. Plus it gave us an excuse to watch tons of great (and not so great) Libraryland videos.

Here are three we made on how to create videos for your library. We played these at the workshop, so consider this a bonus video from the Outside/In spring 2012 tour.

Finally, here’s a bonus video from comedian Louis C. K., titled “Everything Is Amazing and Nobody Is Happy.” In the video, the comedian talks about how we tend to complain about innovations such as airline travel, all the while forgetting how remarkable reality can sometimes be (like being able to fly through the air). To us, this serves as a reminder that even as we struggle to keep up with technology in libraries, we truly live in amazing times.

DAVID LEE KING is digital branch and services manager for Topeka and Shawnee County (Kans.) Public Library.

MICHAEL PORTER is currently leading the effort of the e-content–centric nonprofit Library Renewal and has worked for more than 20 years as a librarian, presenter, and consultant for libraries.


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