Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Library Technology Conference, which is held at Macalster College in St. Paul, MN. As I mentioned at the beginning of my talk, I did not know LibTechConf (as it is affectionately referred to) existed until last year, when several people I professionally admire were prepping for their talk that year. After some research, I found it was highly regarded, specially curated, and previous LibTechConf conferences had a wealth topics that were often not repeated elsewhere The content was not a regurgitation of the same stuff, different conference (or year) you may see with larger conferences.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of it this year.
Keynote: Virginia Eubanks – Can Tech Serve Social Justice?
Eubanks, Internship Director of the Women’s Studies Department at University at Albany and co-founder of Our Knowledge, Our Power, gave an impassioned talk on the use of technology in the realm of social justice. She explored the idea the digital divide is not just a barrier between person and tech, but it is also a barrier and a preventer to getting services and needs that many existing without making a living wage were getting access to. Eubanks also discussed how companies, in the US and elsewhere, took advantage of impoverished areas to find workers for their factories and exploited them for cheap labor. In addition, some of these companies would train their employees to work within various areas of the company, but instead of investing more education or training to promote them, the workers were often fired or laid off due to outsourcing or job consolidation. If interested in more of Eubanks’ work, check out her book Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age
Session: OMG! My metadata is as fresh as the Backstreet Boys
Short, but sweet, session on using Google Refine (which recently changed to OpenRefine a few days before the talk) and Freebase to clean up dirty metadata. Examples were given of how robust the products are and how to best utilize them
Session: Websites are for people
Highly informative session that makes the bold statement: Libraries should not be building or designing websites for supposed library needs, but should be building for the library’s patrons/community/users needs. The presenter walked us through how user design and experience (UX) is not just for websites, but for everywhere and everything in our world. He gave examples of these outside the digital world experiences such as the badly designed parking meters that give conflicting instructions to directional information at walk-up restaurant counters that force the person to make too many choices in order to order food and pay for it. He then tied these back to user design for websites and how the same mindset is seemingly applied. “Library websites are too complicated.” And he’s right. After the talk, I started seeing user experience problems everywhere. My current favorite example is on the way home from the conference, the terminal as MSP had a large display built to emulate an app that was available for you to download on your smartphone. The problem is they don’t illustrate it’s just a demo and not usable, so you walk up and start mashing your fingers against the glass to get information and see that it won’t do anything.
Session: How I stopped worrying and learned to love Institutional Repositories
Session: Digital Preservation = Enduring Access
This isn’t what I quite thought it was going to be. I was looking for more information about on plans, techniques, and tips and it turned out to be more of a “This is what we’ve done, this is we may do.” It felt really like an intro class to archives and digital preservation, which would have been fine if it had billed itself as that, but it didn’t.
Keynote: Kimberly Bryant – Founder, Black Girls Code
Just like Virginia Eubanks, Kimberly Bryant’s talk was passionate, engaging, and brimming with lots of good information. Bryant talked about the formation of Black Girls Code, with the purpose of getting women into tech as well as engaging them, and getting them to start taking chances in technology. While discussing the early days of BGC, Bryant was pleasantly surprised to find it was not start-ups or colleges that would help, but it was libraries that would become the place for BGC meetings, programs, and workshops. BGC started out with intent to bring its messages to under represented areas (underscoring much of what Eubanks was discussing in her talk) and it has grown. There is now discussion to start similar groups like BGC for other underrepresented populations.
Session: Copyright, Licenses, and Fair Use: What’s Up With That?
Here’s the first thing you should know:
If you’re not a lawyer and you’re giving advice on copyright issues on campus, you may get in trouble for practicing law.
Second thing you should know, First sale rights could be applied to EVERYTHING: Used cars, after-market products, even library lending.
A recap of this really informative presentation should be best be presented in links that were relevant to the talk:
- Center for Social Media: Fair Use
- Fight Copyright Trolls
- Ruling of Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications vs Georgia State University
- Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (Not legal advice.)
- Buffy vs Edward
To see more what people are saying about LibTechConf, check #LTC2013 on Twitter.