A very interesting day; I attended a virtual conference on the future of libraries. A lot of resources and good ideas. A couple of really good talks. The virtual space was really much like an actual conference, with virtual exhibit booths and a virtual lounge, and the chance to see who was there and message your friends. The live Twitter feed was at #TDS13, so you can review the highlights in that format.
The early morning visitors to the lounge asked for virtual coffee and snacks -- not yet available. It's just like people posting pictures of their food creations on Facebook -- some things cannot be translated into the virtual world. On the other hand, the advantage of a virtual conference is you can eat your lunch during a session without trying to eat, take notes, and balance stuff on those stupid hotel ballroom chairs all at once.
I was at home today, but you could attend from anywhere -- even the beach!
The other advantage is the opportunity to see the archived talks that you couldn't attend live -- yes, finally technology I can use to be in two places at once.
Here are a few more links that were discussed in the presentations:
Maker Bridge A site about Maker Spaces from the University of Michigan. One person tweeted that children's librarians have been providing maker programs for a long time, which is true. That leaves us to ask -- what is the relationship between paper and finger paint arts and crafts and technology-enhanced 3-D printing?
Community Reference An article about how to take reference into the community, and really engage community members in library resources and services. A lot of people talked about the guide or coach model for working with people in libraries, and about personalization and individually chosen education options. We all know that reading a book is also an individually chosen education option, and that libraries have always been learning institutions -- at least in the United States. I see a direct line between the Boston Public Library allowing workers to take out only two books at a time -- one of which had to be non-fiction -- in the late 19th century, and the provision of maker spaces and other resources in today's libraries. We've been doing a land office business in job and career information since the beginning of the current economic downturn, as well as providing computer and internet access for over 15 years, now.
The question on the table remains -- how do we encourage, enhance, and fund the needed access to information, technology, and space for creativity -- especially as libraries are perfectly positioned to fill some of the equality gaps in access to learning.
And do all that without neglecting some of our current strengths -- a non-commercial gathering place for community members, alone or in groups, a place to find a good book (print or e-book) to read, a place where parents learn how to help their children be literate adults.
It was a day with a lot of ideas, and a lot to continue to discuss and explore. I was very happy to hear one of the keynote speakers talking about going to conferences with people who are not librarians -- making our voices heard in a lot of different arenas. I've been advocating that, and publishing outside the profession, for a long time.
I'm grateful to SLJ and LJ and all the sponsors for also taking my mind off the difficulty of doing my job as a reference librarian with my go to web sites from the U.S. government unavailable --- I didn't think about politics all day, and I did think about new ideas. I'm excited about exploring some of the recommended resources, including a few new to me, and continuing the discussion.
Is virtual learning the whole future, or only part of it? What do you wish your library would do to improve your community?