So for me, Access 2006 has come to a close. Thank you Ottawa for the night terrors (courtesy of the ghost walk :)), the Art Center, the gorgeous weather (the rain made me feel like home) and a fantastic group of speakers and topics over the past 3 days. There was Roy’s talk on the “last mile” to encourage us, Tito Sierra’s talk on the NC State’s Endeca catalog giving us a picture of some of the things that can be done in spite of our current ILS systems and then Peter Hickey’s talk on the lack of privacy in the digital environment (btw, I’ll make the tin hat to protect myself from the satellite waves when I get home Pete :)). Great conference, lots of fun.
Being my first Access conference, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’d been told by many that Hackfest was a must, but that the conference would offer some things that we don’t see quite so often at many U.S. conferences.
- A very international flavor — well, for me, international 🙂
- Pretty laid back. Dan had commented to me that Access, and particularly Hackfest, is a real social event where you will find very little competition between individuals, etc. I’m a competitive person — I take that into a lot of what I do, but it was really nice to simply get to kick back and socialize a bit.
So a couple of closing thoughts from the conference.
- If we send this many people for OSU again (5), we are going to have to co-sponsor the conference in Victoria :). No really…we had 5 folks from OSU make the trip — the most from any one institution I believe. Which was actually pretty cool because we had a real cross section from the library attend. We had John, our AUL for public and innovative services, we had Jane and Anne-Marie from our reference services group and then Jeremy and myself. So a real cross section — which will make reading the trip reports for this particular event interesting since they will likely be colored by our different perspectives (mine of course being the most unbiased and entertaining :))
- With so many laptops in the room, it was refreshing to see zero battery fires 🙂
- Cool gadgets. One thing I love about technology conferences is the cool gadgets the people bring and this was no exception.
- Canadian money! Its like a rainbow in my pocket. I love foreign currency — so many colors. And I love the coins. When I traveled to London a few years ago, one of my favorite parts was the coins I got to bring back. I’ve always been a bit of a coin collector (though I don’t do it quite so much any more).
- Snow — why didn’t we get any. 🙁 I actually got a little excited when I seen how much snow the folks in Buffalo and the north of New York were suppose to be getting last night. I’d hoped that maybe, just maybe, I’d get to see some snow flakes — but no.
Sadly, I think I’m starting to wear down a little bit from all the travel this month. Morning sessions (and morning bike ride) — great. But its 5:30 now and I’m definitely tired. If it wasn’t for the Ghost Walk, and a chance to chat with a few folks tonight, I’d probably just grab my slippers, a cup of tea and relax the rest of the night.
Anyway, day 2. Roy Tennant led off with his keynote (http://blog.reeset.net/archives/369) followed by a pretty cool talk by Anne Christensen from the library in Hamburg Germany. Anne talked about library chat bots and talked a bit about what they learned in creating their own chat bot (http://www.sub.uni-hamburg.de/). If enter Ottawa in the stella chatbox, you get a response and then a page (in German) giving more information about the project.
Next, Annette Bailey talked about LibX — the Firefox toolbar extension. This is one of those projects that I think most libraries could make use of within their own buildings, but not sure what kindof uptake one really would get outside of the library building — realistically. I think that Dan’s right (from his Thundertalk) — we really need to move in the direction of zero installation. I realize that’s impossible on systems we don’t own — but I think its the reality. But what do I know.
Next were the thundertalks. Lots of interesting stuff going on. This was the first time I’ve heard Ross formally talk about Umlaut and I’m very impressed. There are some things that you see, and think, “Dang, I wish i would have thought of that.” This is one of those projects. I would have never considered binding together the wide variety of services as found in umlaut.
Other highlights for me…getting a peek and a little more information on Rochesters XC Project and I enjoyed listening to Paul Miller’s talk — though I’m not sure if there was much offered that was new (outside of seeing some of the talis development products — which I’d never seen before). Oh, and Pete Hickey — someone I can relate to. I found out that he cycle’s all winter. So do I — though not in the snow and junk that he must ride in (Ottawa). Anyway, he had a great quote:
Privacy on the net is like virginity. Once its gone, its gone. –Pete Hickey
So this has been my first year attending the hackfest and my first impressions has been, pretty cool. Hackfest, for those that weren’t able to attend or have never attended, is a social outing (my opinion) that brings together a number of folks interested in technology to address a group of common problems within libraries. Few groups got to actually put down much working code (though there were some) — but I’m not sure that’s all that important. In most cases, simply sitting down and getting the conversation started will be enough as these types of things tend to snowball and gain traction if interest is there.
I’m not sure if Dan and Ross are going to keep this URL active or not, but for now, folks interested should take a look at the presentations (and suggestions) that were generated out of the Hackfest, which can be found at: http://hackfest.kicks-ass.net
“Last Mile” Problem:
- Libraries are better at description than delivery
- We’ve rested on our past successes (library automation, conversion)
- Too many clicks — it takes too many clicks to get users from the search to the digital resources. (one click to search, one click to get)
Roy makes a great point. In demonstrating how many clicks it takes to get to full text items within his own organization’s system — he notes that his organization, like others are limited by the vendor software that they use. However, he doesn’t put the blame on the vendors alone. He says that we all own the problem — and I agree. I’ve said this for some time — the problem that we currently have with vendors is one of our own creation. As an Innovative Interfaces library, I feel like we have outgrown this system some time ago because of their failure to offer solutions for users that want to move outside of their blackbox solution. However, I recognize that we created this beast. Libraries have in the past (and for some reason, continue to request) demanded this type of development path from our vendors. It always surprises me when any library moves to Innovative, but in talking to people, I still find that there is a large segment of the population that is simply looking for black box solutions.
Roy also brings up another good point. Services exist to help make users lives and experiences easier — to some degree — its up to libraries to simply start taking advantage of them. I’d argue also that libraries also need to start building their own services to surface their own information within other webservices and take better advantage of the metadata and data available within their own system (or build new systems).
Ha. Dan called me on it yesterday after finally posting a link to some pictures from my Readex trip. One conference behind…Ugh. Like many, I’m in Ottawa right now hanging out with our cool neighbors to the north and some carpetbaggers from the south playing at hackfest and checking out some presentations with a very international flavor. I need to catch up. Fortunately, Roy’s going to be speaking soon, so that should give me a chance to catch up on email and get caught up on a few posts. (I’m joking of course…maybe. :))