Internet Librarian – my musings

The Internet Librarian 2008 Conference Schedule

Opening Keynote:

The opening keynote by Howard Rheingold ( and discussed using symbols to organize collective action.  Very interesting stuff.  Words and printing allow for revolution, scientific advancement, and religious change (think Martin Luther).  He talked about future forms of collective action and gave examples of how technology played a key roll in the aftermath of the Tsunami, Katrina, the earthquakes in China, and demonstrations in Spain – the co-creation of culture =  “enabling of collective action.”  One small, but important role for libraries in this new world order is to teach search strategies, to help people pose questions and determine if the answers are true or false.  Collaboration, connection, self-instruction, broadcasting, active participation, and multiple literacies – these themes from Howard’s keynote certainly sum up what we discussed in the following 3 days.

Breakout 1:

David Lee King gave us an overview of his new book, “Designing the Digital Experience” and it was very good, definitely a program I want him to repeat at Tech Day or at the Web Development Workshop I’m organizing.  I was especially impressed with this presentation because I am a person who values experience above all else, though knowledge comes in at a close second.  Web sites, like Harley Davidson, are being designed and promoted as digital experiences – the HD site shows you what to do with the bike after you’ve bought it.  David talked about the ‘three paths to experience’: the structural path, the community path and the experience path.  The goal of the structural path is to create a better experience by improving ease of use – you focus on the user and what they want out of the Web site, keep it simple, let your passion show in the design and keep the structure invisible – don’t make the user think about how to navigate the site.  For the community path, you want to “create a memorable experience through conversations and by creating a community.”  I think THIS is what a library web site should strive for – allow conversations (comments, IM, twitter), connections (friending), invitations (ask questions and allow people to answer online), participation, storytelling and a sense of familiarity (a common theme is to personalize the site with staff photos and bios to encourage approachability).  To illustrate the “focus on experience” point, David talked about sport clips – it’s not about the hair cut, it’s about the guy-friendly experience of going to sport clips.  Another example (that we can all appreciate at a conference), is the hotel that first focused on having good beds as a selling point – how do these examples of experience translate or look like digitally?  Work on improving your site, look into customer journey mapping (what are the steps you take online to find a book?), and compare your Web site to sites in OTHER industries, outside of library land.  Try to match the feel and functionality of Facebook, Amazon, eBay, etc.  Finally, David suggests focusing on connecting customers with each other.  Another presenter talked about how online book clubs can quickly go from professional to personal and help forge relationships with the books, with the library and with each other.  Very good.  As an aside, some gentleman at the back of the room signed the entire program to no one in particular.  Interesting to watch.

Breakout 2: Digital marketing

Scottie Claiborne and Lauren Stokes covered Online Marketing & Promotion: Making it Fun and Economical.   I have lots o’ ideas from this presentation that I want to share with my KLOW folks.  This will be hard to synthesize…basically, think of the user, add a lot of tools to encourage conversation, promote and market yourself, find out who is linking to your site, list your sites on wifi locators and community information sites, create a listing in wikipedia and push your information Out via RSS or email or smoke signal – whatever it takes. Need to visit:, and

Breakout 3: Making a Difference with Digital Media

Greg Schwartz had a lot to say about personal branding, reputation and online identity.  While you don’t necessarily own your online identity, you can influence it by having a homebase (use ClaimID to differentiate between you and others with a same name and have a blog to centralize your presentations and various online persona), owning your user name and using it consistently, aggregate your lifestream by unifying all of your feeds and networks, join the conversation and be authentic about it, follow what others are saying about you by using Google alert to track yourself, and be authentic and real so your real life and online life match.  Joy and Sam from Columbus Metro Library talked about Learn & Play at CML – I want to look into their browser tool bar that customers can download.

Breakout 3: Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen gave a very entertaining talk, again with some practical and useful online tools we can implement with KLOW (more at  Watch That Page monitors broken links, Page 2 RSS creates feeds for sites that don’t have them, Update Scanner is a FireFox extension that highlights new content at a site, CiteBite creates a link to a specific part of a page, and I’ll be sharing Invisible Auctions with my eBay friends as a way to get deals on stuff posted with misspelled terms and descriptions (as someone who can’t spell, I think this is funny).

Breakout 4: wrap up

Public Track wrap up highlights include: photos and staff bios create recognition, that improves connections and approachability.  We also need to quit assuming that we know what our patrons want and need to ask and listen to them.  Another tid bit – hire for customer service, user-centeredness….and remember that the library is made for people, not librarians.  I need to find out more about the presentation, “Solving the OPAC problem” and overlays like Aquabrowser and LibraryThing for Libraries.  So much I have to learn…

Tuesday Keynote: Danny Sullivan on Google and search engines

Danny Sullivan spoke on search engines ( and how Google isn’t going anywhere soon, but there are killerettes that can supplement Google’s searching ability…such as, urbanspoon, local reviews, travel lists like, and more.

Breakout 1: couldn’t find one worth staying for, so went and had coffee with my new buddy Alison

Breakout 2: Solving the Money Problem

Awesome, practical information from Sarah Houghton-Jan (librarianinblack) and Laura Crossett, ( Branch Manager, Park County Library System, about low-cost and no-cost Web design.  I think I’ve found a candidate for the 2009 Tech Day keynote speaker position (  I’m just going to link to her presentation.  I especially like tips: 2. Have a technology hierarchy of needs, 3. Put your MeeboMe widget where customers get angry (the no results found page), 7. Add staff pics and fun bios and use to create Tickets for Library Events, 14. Tap, a free low cost web 2.0 service that is free to small libraries, and 20. Re-evaluate and make changes based on customer feedback.  I need to read “Don’t Make Me Think” and be the NEKLS expert on usability testing.  This is a recurring theme at this conference.  You can pay volunteers in chocolate.

Remainder of Day 2 spent communing with the ocean on a kayak.

Day Three:

Social Media & Networked Technologies by danah boyd

Wow, what a lot to digest – I look forward to discovering and reading the and sites!  My biggest reaction is sadness that the kids have to rely on social networks to interact because parental fear keeps them out of public places – they’re locked in their rooms chatting, texting, and setting up digital meetings with their friends because they’re not out at the park, the movie theater, the parking lot, the drive in, or the mall hangin’ out with friends!  Facebook and MySpace are the primary social hangout, as Sklyer (16) said, “if you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist.”  We are in a new world order, where private and public speech is blurred, we have invisible audiences, our words can be taken and remixed, reposted, reproduced, also blurring ideas about authorship and ownership of ideas, words, and media.  What we’ve written is persistent, it’s replicable, it’s scalable (can reach 6 or 6 million, depending on fate) and it’s searchable, so how do you keep yourself and what you write non-searchable?  Another interesting point had to do with the librarian’s role in teaching people how to create knowledge, as in adding information to wikipedia – how to debate, dialog and produce knowledge, and also how to organize information via tagging – how much do we have to contribute to this discussion??

Breakout 1: Crafting the User Centered Library

Cliff Landis ( talked about implementing new ideas and how to assess them – Try, Assess, Reflect.  Try the idea quickly through a pilot, using a 3 minute plan: figure out who will coordinate it, decide what you are going to try, decide what it will be completed, and figure out how you determine if it’s been a success.  After trying the idea, get feedback using surveys, focus groups, user observations, conversations and gather enough data/stories that you can publish or present.  Final thoughts were: be willing to do the work, evolution will take care of bad ideas and create a culture of innovation.  Great slides, very funny and a wonderful video: Association Professionals through the Ages (need to find this, still)

Breakout 2:Implementing a Next Gen OPAC – Jeff Wisniewski

The PittCat+ is cool, Koha is just as cool, so I’m glad I went and heard Jeff Wisniewski talk about what AquaBrowser did for their Voyager catalog.  Just reinforced that we made the right choices with Koha, but I need to do a BETTER job with follow up on known issues – even if its’ just creating a list and using strikethrough to show what’s been done and what’s still hanging in limbo.

Breakout 3: Pecha Kucha (mini presentations)

Sorry I missed the first Pecha Kucha 6 min 40 second presentation (with 20 slides).  Nancy Dowd‘s little video made me cry, it was a simple narrative about how her library trusted someone enough to give them a guest card and how that was the first time ‘anyone’ had trusted this person.  Stories are so powerful and her marketing manifesto was awesome.  If we don’t know what to call our ‘peeps’ – customer, patron, guest – how can we ever market to them?  Transparency, authenticity, honoring communication tools, being green, supporting innovation, and making friends with our long tails – these were just a few of her points.  David Lee King urged us to sell ourselves – let google be the search tool, but sell our ability to improve the question asked IN Google.  Stephen Abram urges us to get ALL of our professional messages into 6 minutes, using stories, humor and to the point!

Nancy Dowd—“A Marketing Manifesto, A Foundation for Planning
I will call them by name if I can—client, patron, customer, member…
I will be transparent in my marketing – honest conversation. I will listen.
I will no longer support the silence of silos – call someone if they’re doing it better.
I will support innovation. Try, fail, try again and again…
I will make demands on my vendors. If their products aren’t easy to use, bye, bye.
I will honor all choices of communication tools.
I will embrace diversity – even Republicans in my library!
I will act GREEN.
I will find the “me” in my library – be authentic.
I will measure the right stuff – am I reaching people?
I will market to voters – so I can get funding.
I will tell stories – stories that will matter and create an impression.

Breakout 4: Steven again – what’s new in RSS < go play.  A lot of cool, new, useful sites.  Learned a new term: lifestreaming, where you bring all of your online persona together in one location.  A lot of good one-liners, like “I’m so cool, I don’t have a twitter account anymore.”

Closing Keynote: Liz Lawley

The raw notes:

We love beautiful things – apple design
social proprioception – find who coined this – good tech journalist – twitter – general sense that we have of ourselves in the world – this is why the deaf can’t modulate their voice b/c they can’t hear themselves.

Twitter and statuses – social grooming – lets us know what’s going on in the lives of the people around you.  twinkle on the iPhone – can find out who’s doing what where

Location is important – now we are out of the virtual, virtual isn’t enough – that’s why we are here!  Physical presence in a space – innate need for non-verbal communication and physical interaction.


  • ambient devices – monitor a source (weather, traffic, stocks, etc.) and the device changes color based on the data – indirect messages sought b/c we are overloaded with direct messages!
  • Gadget to monitor electrical use – Home Joule – on ambient devices  web site
  • Availabot – goes limp when you’re chat buddy is offline – fun USB toy – Chumby – it can be made personal, it’s tactile and begs to be held and talked about (social)
  • Toys for adults – electronics, gadgets – we want things that are social objects, but that also untether us from our computer

botanicalls – use this arduino USB gadget with an open source programmable circuit with plants to send twitter messages to yourself, as if they’re from the plant – “thank you for watering me.” (pothos at twitter)

Crafting, making, creating – we have a desire for tangible experiences and tangible accomplishments, be it knitting in a boring meeting. – hand crafted things for sale, direct from the artist – hand made books made out of old scrabble boards.

Make your own mini cards (moocards) or books (lulu)

Libraries need open spaces with outlest, tables and wifi – create a gathering place (with food)


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