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Computers In Libraries Conference

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

As you can see from the pictures, I attended this years Computers in Libraries conference, which was held in Arlington, VA.  I’ve never been to CiL before, but I’ve always asked to go at the beginning of the year when we submit our “wish list” of conferences that we’d like to attend.  Still, I was quite surprised when I got the word that my request had gone through.  Not only that, but one of my colleagues, Sam Anderson, got the green light to go as well.  So we packed our bags and headed off to Virginia for three days of presentations, networking, and all of the other stuff one does at a conference.

One of my main goals was to take in as much as I could from the “Literacies and Fluencies” and “Teaching” tracks.  More specifically, I was hoping to gather as many ideas, programs, etc. as I could and use them to enhance our own information literacy initiative at Springfield College.  I certainly saw some great presentations.  Chad Mairn from St. Petersburg College gave an excellent talk about information fluency, which he argues is at the intersection of information literacy, computer literacy, and critical thinking.  I also learned more about transliteracy.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole transliteracy idea before the conference and I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about it now.  Some of my co-workers argue that it’s just the old wine of information literacy in a new bottle.  I’m not so sure, though.  To me, it seems like a marriage of information literacy and educational technology, which I see as a positive thing.  It’s definitely something that I’m following.

Of course, I did sneak out to see some presentations from other tracks.  Roy Tennant gave a great talk built around his Top Ten Things Library Administrators Should Know About Technology.  I also saw a really great talk by Joe Murphy on mobile literacy and the connection between libraries and mobile devices.  I wasn’t the only one.  This presentation was packed, which I thought was funny for 2 reasons.  One, all we heard about in the previous 2 days was about how mobile was the next big thing for libraries.  If that’s the case, why did they stick the mobile presentation into one of the smaller conference rooms?  There were so many people that they had to stream it into an adjoining room.  Two, it was very difficult to get cell reception in that room or at least it was for my friend who had 0 bars on his iPhone.

No conference is perfect, however, and this one was no exception.  I was specifically disappointed by the presentations that essentially were nothing more than link sharing fests.  It’s not because the sites being suggested were terrible or that the presenters were boring.  In fact, they were all pretty good.  I guess I just didn’t expect to see that kind of presentation at a national conference.  In almost every case, all the links were up on a wiki anyway.  I could have just looked at that on my own.

I was also a little put off by the Apple bashing.  Not because I think Apple is a perfect company.  Far from it.  However, when someone stands there and rails against Apple’s closed systems and secret app approval process, but then proudly proclaims that they bought their iPad, it kind of rubs me the wrong way.  At least Sarah Houghton-Jan had the guts to back up her words with action.  I still don’t agree with her or the rest of them.  Apple is a for profit business.  They have a fiduciary responsibility to  make money for their shareholders.  If you don’t like the way they do it, don’t buy their products.

As I said, however, no conference is perfect and I didn’t expect this one to be.  I enjoyed the overwhelming majority of presentations that I went to and the Hyatt did a great job of putting on the conference in spite of the iffy wi-fi.  Congratulations to everyone who put CiL 2010 on this year.