Computers in Libraries Conference: Day 1

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Last week I was fortunate enough to go to the Computers in Libraries Conference down in DC. In addition to learning how fond folks are of their horns in our nation’s capital, I learned a few other things. Here’s the recap of the sessions I went to on Day 1. I’ll keep it simple, so as to not throw a wall of text at you.

Business and Tech Trends

Presenter: Marshal Breeding (Independent Consultant, Library Technology Guides)

If metrics are sexy, then this session had it going on. Here are my top 3 tidbits

    1. Libraries are a $1.8 billion global industry. I’m honestly not sure if this is a large number in the grand scheme of things (I rather think it’s not) but I was struck by it just the same.
    2. Each type of library has its own unique mission. So the systems they choose support those missions best. At the Wilmington Library we use Evergreen, which is open source. That’s great because open source is usually cheaper than proprietary software and public libraries usually have smaller budgets than academic libraries.
    3. The Hong Kong Public Libraries are the most active libraries in the world with 63 million transactions per year.

Web Design for Better UX

Presenter: Elaine Meyer (User Experience Librarian, Midwest Collaborative for Library Services)

I’ve attended many a session on the User Experience (UX) facet of web design and I always pick up tricks from them. This one was no different.

  1. Elaine’s 7 Steps of web design:
    1. Discover what you’ve got
    2. Define your new site’s purpose
    3. Outline the site structure and content
    4. Create a visual design, think wireframes
    5. Develop the site. aka built the thing
    6. Test what you built
    7. Launch the thing
  2. Have each subject matter expert maintain their own content. This is something I was leaning towards. I know nothing about kids, so why should I maintain the kids’ pages? I shouldn’t.
  3. There will be changes post-launch. Don’t worry, that’s not a failure.

Using Google Analytics and Responsive Design

Presenter: Ben Rawlins (Assistant Library Director, Georgetown Library)

This was a great session because I had been halfheartedly using my library’s Google Analytics for the redesign of the site. After this session, I shall jump once more into the breach, dear friends, and do so with renewed vigor. Here are 3 takeaways I, um, well took away:

  1. Look at the top 10 pages and make sure those links are the most easily accessed in the new site.
  2. Their old site was SharePoint. When he said this, I shivered. The last time I heard those words were in my previous life in Partners. I spent so much time designing SharePoint pages that I know it could be used. But with sites like WordPress, I don’t see the benefits from standing up an entire SharePoint server environment.
  3. He got rid of the tabbed search box because folks were just using the box for catalog search, not site search. I was pleased to hear this because the code to have a dual purpose search box was proving trickier than I thought. I wondered if the time I’d spend working it out would be time well spent. Perhaps not.

Web Development in Practice

Presenter: Robert Laws (Digital Services Librarian, Georgetown University Qartar Campus) & Kristi Chavez (Web Content Librarian, Phoenix Public Library

This session was a prime example of how different academic and pubic libraries are. In keeping with the theme of this post, here’s the top 3 takeways from this session:

  1. Mr. Laws talked about jquery, json, and angualrjs. He could, admittedly, do some really cool stuff with search results from multiple databases being displayed right on the library web page. But as a public library employee I’d be faced with the law of diminishing returns. It would take me a while to learn the code and implement it and I doubt it would get enough use to justify my time. It’s not like the web site is my sole responsibility.
  2. Ms. Chavez is using SharePoint & Polaris for Phoenix’s website. That gave me chills, again. I hadn’t heard the word “SharePoint” in over a year. Now twice in as many sessions? Spooky.
  3. Ms. Chavez gave two great pieces of advice for the design process:
    1. The customer knows what they want, get out of your own way and give it to them.
    2. The key to a successful redesign: train, train again, and train some more.

Finding Info when You Can’t Just Google It

Presenter: Jill Meyer (Web Content & Materials Manager, Dykema Gossett)

Ms. Meyer is a law librarian and this session was her relating her experience of moving law materials from print to digital.

  1. The presentation could also be called “Finding data behind Paywalls,” since Google can’t index material it doesn’t have access to. Or worse yet, if it comes up in a search result, you can’t access the data.
  2. In another example of the main theme of any change, Ms. Meyer stressed that training and communication are paramount to success. It seems obvious but it’s surprising how often they are overlooked or undervalued.
  3. Apparently, if you tell a room full of lawyers that you’re going to take away the books in their library and replace them with their digital equivalent, lawyers will literally run out of the room and steal their favorite volumes.

Well, I think that’s enough for today. I’ll be posting my Day 2 notes in a few days. If you attended these sessions and want to add to (or correct) my notes, please comment!


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