LITA National Forum 2010

The past 3 days, I was at the LITA national forum right here in downtown Atlanta. This was a much smaller conference than expected, and definitely less overwhelming than ALA. Since this was the first conference I went to where I would not have a group of my classmates already there.  Thankfully, there were a few people that I knew who were presenting, so I was not completely out in the cold, plus I ran into some people that I met at ALA.

The Crowd

Despite not being a librarian/tech person/someone important, people were very warm and friendly. Since the conference was so much smaller than ALA, you saw the same people each day and by the 2nd or 3rd day, it’s more like one big happy family of people who share a love of sharing information and all the fun, geeky gadgets behind it. Knowing I was in the job market, people were very encouraging. The president herself mentioned to me that “dogged persistence” will pay off.

I also met some new colleagues as well, and had the pleasure of sharing meals and cards with them. I was particularly excited to spread the gospel of Willy’s to all the out-of-towners. Willy’s is one of my favorite “make-your-own-burrito” places (like Chipotle), and they only have it here in Atlanta, and everything is fresh :p.  There was a Willy’s in the food court near the hotel, which was very convenient! Last night, I went with a group to dinner at Haveli Indian Cuisine, and it was very good. The vegetarian dishes are recommended (and cost less). I really enjoyed my meal and a nice warm glass of masala chai tea.

Sessions

Over the last 3 days, I went to several sessions. The opening session was interesting…it was about Wikipedia culture. Apparently there is a cult of people out there who spend a lot of time editing Wikipedia articles that fascinate them. In fact, a lot of popular articles on Wikipedia were found to be more accurate and up to date than print encyclopedias because those articles were monitored so closely by devoted editors, than any misinformation was revised in a microsecond.

Roy Tennant, a progressive information professional from OCLC, delivered the keynote speech Saturday morning. I had heard that he was an excellent public speaker, and he indeed gave a very entertaining speech on the benefits of cloud computing, which has been noted by some to be “the cure for cancer.”

I also attended several concurrent sessions. Notable sessions included one on new technologies for library instruction (check out Poll Everywhere and ScreenToaster), and a presentation about digital asset management  at UPS, and how they managed the hundreds of thousands of images and documents from the company’s branding and ad campaigns. Digital asset management is becoming a lucrative alternative career path for people with the MLIS background (and from what I hear from recruiters, it does not pay bad either :).

Venue

The conference venue was OK overall. Since it was a much smaller conference, we only had 1 floor of the hotel, so it was not like ALA where you had to take a shuttle to half your events. It was also near a MARTA station and a food court, and I had a very pleasant surprise with the parking. Apparently in the Courtland Street garage, if you get there before 9 AM and leave before 11 PM, the cost of parking is only $4, no matter how long. Can’t beat $4 for a day parking downtown. Plus, it was near the Peachtree Center food court, which as I mentioned before, has amazing and affordable restaurants.

The heating/cooling of the center was very imbalanced. Some of the main conference rooms were absolutely freezing, but then some of the smaller rooms were unbearably hot. One person tweeted “oom 206 is now a major contributor to global warming – hilton fail!” And a lot of the rooms had these black shades that were drawn to keep the projector screens from being backlit, but they blocked out all light so my body was thinking it was nighttime…and after only averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, it was very hard to stay awake.

Overall, I enjoyed myself, and I am glad that I went. Conferences are always a good experience, especially for networking. I do hope to be able to make it to future conferences, but I am still praying for that position that will one day offer a professional development budget. I paid out of pocket for this conference, and it was not cheap. Thank you LITA Planning committee for choosing Atlanta for this year, otherwise, I could not have afforded to attend. I would like to visit new cities sometimes, especially out West, but I must start squirreling money away for next year :).

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One Step Closer

Last Friday, I completed yet another milestone in my journey to graduation. Last week, we had our comprehensive exams: “The Capstone Experience” (or the Crapstone Experience as one classmate lovingly put it). Basically, we were given one week to write 3 mini-term papers. On Friday, June 11, the exam opened up online, and we were asked to choose 3 topics in library and information science from a list of 10, and we were to write a 10 page paper on each. Including references, I wrote approximately 8,000 words…in one week. Yes, that’s right. A week! The first paper was pretty easy to get through, but by the third, I was ready to give up, as the glow of the lovely summer day, and the hypnotic glow of the  TV during the night, continued to seduce me.

To prepare, I did some serious spring cleaning, since I knew I had to devote the entire week to paper writing (when I was not working). I stocked up on food and snacks to keep me caffeinated.

Capstone nest

Then, I camped out on my bed with Leslie (my laptop) and began the furious process of researching and writing.  The kitties were right there beside me for moral support. Due to my keenness in librarianship, I discovered the lovely method of federated searching in the EBSCO databases, as well as Google Scholar, so I could find everything online.  In thick of it all, to the left was what “the nest” looked like…(note, there were more papers on the floor, and those two black blobs are actually my kitties. Of course, I totally had to have my I-Tunes.

When the trials and tribulations were over, I treated myself to a massage. I had a gift card I got for Christmas that I never used, and I am so glad I waited to save it! When the semester is truly over,  I should host a bonfire and invite all my classmates to bring their journal articles and throw them into the fire.  By the time Capstone rolled around, I had about 3 bins worth of crap. And you know what’s funny? For a degree in Library Science, only about half of my classes required books. In fact, I don’t think I spent more than $500 on books the entire term. But don’t get me wrong, I had to read a LOT of articles.

Going to DC tomorrow!

So, the big conference has already started.  I will be flying out first thing bright and early tomorrow, and last night I packed up all my clothes. I still have several more things I need to do to get ready, like clean the house. I have already made my schedule of the sessions I plan on attending. I have gotten in touch with my friends and family in DC, and will spend some time with them. My mentor and advisor will be there as well.

I have also volunteered to contribute a blog post to the LITA blog. It’s my first time, but it’s a great volunteer opportunity. My spring internship supervisor is a LITA member, and loves it, so I am going to check them out while I am there.  I will be attending several of their events.  Specifically, the one I am most interested in is the Developing a Sustainable Digital workflow, and plan on covering that event. Too bad I will have to miss the LITA Open Source CMS playroom (I really hope someone blogs about that!). This is my first time as a contributing blogger, but it will hopefully help me get some librarian street cred :p.

So are you done yet?

That seems to be the question everyone is asking me after I told them I was completing my graduate exams. And the answer is NO! I have one pesky 5 week class left that I start in July. Though it looks like a very interesting course: Reference and Access in the Sciences. Plus, another cool think about the course is that is taught by an actual reference librarian – someone who knows the work day-in and day-out.  She was actually a guest speaker in my academic libraries class, and did a great job giving advice about what it’s like to work in an academic library, and (most important : p ) how to get a job in an academic library.

I decided I needed to take more reference classes. Good reference knowledge is so important for any type of library. It not only helps with communication skills (something my shy self has always been diligently working on), but librarians in all types of libraries must know how to utilize mad reference skills. This dawned on me during my fall internship last year, which was in a small library. ALL librarians were responsible for covering the reference desk, even the cataloger and systems librarian. I even helped out a little bit. My courses have given me a wealth of library technical knowledge,  but I need a refresher in reference because at some point in my career, I will probably need to use it.