Monday, March 23, 2015


Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the LibraryTechnology conference in St. Paul as one of ten scholarships recipients. As both a school and rural librarian, I met the scholarship criteria to receive funding for my hotel accommodations and registration, which made this trip do-able.  It was terrific to attend an convention where I didn’t have to present or attend meetings! The event was held at Macalester College during that school’s spring break, and it drew five hundred librarians from all over.

I can’t say enough good things about LTC2015.  The keynotes—Courtney Greene McDonald and Bohyun Kim – were extremely intellectually stimulating, and the concurrent session were spot-on, too. I attended a great maker space session which included crafting and gaming as well as the more usual suspects like robotics, circuits, and 3D printing, which was a nice take on that sometimes tech-centric trend. But the two themes that struck me overall were (1) the increasing importance of visual design in improving library communications and patron engagement and (2) the rise of digital production in the humanities.  

I’ve been thinking for a while about how, with everything from etsy to Pinterest to repackage Penguin classics, aesthetics are the new currency, so the number of sessions on digital design tools really affirmed that. I was also jazzed because that is pretty much the conference session I’ll be doing for or state edtech conference in June and have proposed for our state school library association, too.
The other huge trend there was the rise of digital humanities or digital scholarship projects, especially as summative projects in the classroom. This is a real-world project that actually prepares students for the workplace.  I sat in on a talk about a project at St. Cloud University, and the school’s plan to propose a certificate in that area and the difficulty in finding tech-y people who were comfortable with humanities topics, and I realized that what they were talking about was pretty much my exact skill set. It makes me really excited to think about the online publishing options for all the amazing archival resources out there that are either undigitized or unfindable, and I have some plans for some small scale projects here.
And Macalester was a perfect campus setting, with great facilities in close proximity, scrumptious food including lots of vegetarian options, and a really green approach that include online schedule and refillable water bottles for attendees. The crowd reminded me a lot of the sysadmins I got to work with when I was at Sirsi, and everyone was super-friendly. The social event which closed the conference Thursday evening was fun, too. And all the sessions are archived for later reference.
The next libtech conference will be March 16-17, 2016. For those looking for a small conference filled with people who know their tech stuff, I would check it out, for sure.

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