Monday, November 12, 2012

My experiences at Internet Librarian International 2012, London

Hi all, this is yet another conference report from me, my 3rd and last international conference for 2012.

This time around, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Internet Librarian International 2012 in London. I was very excited to attend because I knew from looking at the tweets and slides coming out from the past editions, this was my type of conference & I wasn't disappointed.

Compared to ALA Annual 2012 (see my blog report here), this was relatively smaller scale about 200-300 people but it was chock full of interesting and awesome people & presentations.

There were presentations on everything from "big picture" talks on what it means to be a librarian and the future to "harder" more practical talks about using social media for marketing, marketing institutional repositories and open access, gamification (lemontree), Augmented reality in library (the amazing Scarlet projectthe latest search/web 2.0 tools, engines, Scopus , Web of Science , Google Scholar, talks on impact of discovery services,  and more.

I know, people always say this when there are multi-tracks but I really had problems choosing between tracks since there were quite a few I really honestly wanted to see at the same time.

For example, I had to choose between a session where there were presentations by librarians from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presenting on user behavior on discovery systems and Trevor A Dawes (@tadawes) from Princeton University Library talking about how they combined Primo and Summon


Dave Pattern (@daveyp) presenting on one of my favourite projects to watch the Library impact data  project  & Brian Kelly (@briankelly) on What does the evidence tell us about institutional repositories?

In the end the discovery session won out, because I figured I could always read Dave Pattern and Brian Kelly's blog posts but I wasn't sure if the discovery sessions presenters blogged about their work.

In any case, for those of you looking for slides and coverage of the event the following links will be helpful

All the links above are courtesy of Brian Kelly's blog post round up of the event 

Speaking and presenting at Internet Librarian International

A big difference from the past few library international conferences I have attended (this must be my  4th so far including one in Singapore) was that I actually had to present in front of an international audience.

Needless to say, I was nervous (my accent isn't the clearest to audiences not from Singapore), and when I was informed about the session I was speaking at, I was both nervous and excited.

Excited because, I knew the other 2 presenters in my session and was looking forward to meeting them both for the first time.

One was Matthew Reidsma (@mreidsma) of Grand Valley State University - the Summon and library website guru I have blogged about in the past.

The other was Gary Green (@ggnewed) of Surrey County Council and Voices for Libraries the UK library advocacy group, who I have followed his blog Information Twist for a while on mashups.

Nervous because, I knew the caliber of the presenters, in particular Matthew Reidsma who always gives impactful and well received talks on why library websites suck, as such I was hoping not to embarrass myself too much.

Picture by Matthew just before we presented, Gary is seated next to me

I presented on a small project our social media team did with a meme content that resulted in 600% increase in Facebook reach. It wasn't a earth-shaking idea or project by any means, but hopefully it was an unusual idea that the audience had not considered yet and could be simple enough for them to consider implementing.

It was also something I didn't blog or talk about much before because I thought it would be good to give the audience at ILI2012 something they haven't read about before and I think I generally succeeded, we all did.

But again, perhaps I worried too much, as I noted before , while sessions are nice, the main objective of library conferences is to meet great people and connect with them before and after the presentations.

I wouldn't be surprised that during the conference, Olympia Conference Centre, London, UK had one of the highest density of amazing, energetic library people on earth.

Iman of Running in the Halls/Lemontree probably said it best (though the comment is a bit embarrassing, since I am not the one with a unique and novel gamification library game!)  , there were so many amazing people at the conference, you couldn't turn around without running into someone amazing.

Some I managed to talk to include Bram Luyten of Atmire , who I had a good talk about Dspace and of course I finally met in the flesh @akenyg of  Stockholm Public Libraries, @briankelly, @Karenblakeman  , @ed_jewell of  Guernsey and many other UK based Librarians and somewhat unexpectedly I ran into Joe Kraus @jokrausdu of University of Denver at the reception.

Both Joe and I are members of the LSW community (were we the only 2 members at ILI2012?), and Joe's speciality is Open Access and Scholarly Communication a area I am trying to learn more about.

Joe Kraus

I would have had the opportunity to meet more people, if I had decided to join people at the Hand & Flower Pub which became almost an unofficial meeting place for the delegates on the preconference and first day to socialize.

But I was feeling a little jetlagged and more importantly nervous about the presentation I had to do the 2nd day, that I decided to head back to the hotel early to prepare for the presentation, something I regret.

The Hand & Flower 

By the time my presentation was over on the 2nd day, and I was all relaxed , most of the UK delegates were on their way home. That said, I managed to meet up with Matthew Reidsma for dinner and it was interesting to know more about the guy beyond just what I see on twitter and blogs.

Matthew Reidsma

I also managed to meet up with Carol Gauld of Queensland University of Technology (@carolgauld) a day after the conference for dinner (again using the old trick of tweeting "Who wants to meet for dinner"  ) and she gave me some interesting ideas on 360link. 

One thing you might have noticed is that practically everyone I mentioned has a twitter account, which probably isn't surprising given that this is the internet librarian international and it drew some of the most tech savvy or tech inclined people from the library industry including library developers, system librarians, web librarians or simply instruction/reference/school librarians who were deeply into the use of technology.

That said Brian Kelly asked on his blog - Does Sharing on Mobile Devices Hinder Real World Discussions? Before that he tweeted cheekily this picture (of people at the conference staring at their smartphones ignoring everyone else) followed by the tweet "it's all about meeting new people"

As someone who is naturally a big introvert, I can say Twitter and social media is a big boon for me, because it allows me to connect and "know" people first in advance to meeting them. It's a lot easier to break the ice and talk if we have connected virtually before.

Still, there are times when it is easy to retreat to the virtual world when one feels all tapped out, something I have to watch out for.

The other interesting thing that occurred to me while tweeting the event was that, people who were not on site physically but interested were more likely to want to interact over online channels , well obviously because they had no other way! They didn't have the option of  tweeting "Let's meet to talk".

So at times, while I was at the event, I was getting tweets from offsite interested librarians who wanted to interact, which was a little distracting , though fortunately most came at the time during the session where you couldn't speak with the guy next to you anyway.

I extended my stay in London for 4 days, and I won't bore you with what I did, though a short summary would be I visited a lot of museums and did other tourist things.

The days flew by and very soon it was time to head back to Singapore. Personally, Internet Librarian International is now one of my favourite library conferences to attend and I would like to thank the organisers for accepting my proposal to speak and for my library to fund the trip.

I suspect if you like most of the things I blog about here, the conference would be a natural fit for you.

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