LibTech Recap Logo

What I learned at Library Technology Conference 2016

posted in: Blog, Conference | 0

I attended Library Technology Conference last week: March 16-17, 2016 in Saint Paul, Minnesota! The TL;DR: it was SO WORTH flying out from California. I Tweeted (#LTC2016), and talked, and discussed, and I even presented. The company was good, the food was good, the presenters were awesome.

Here are my biggest takeaways by day and session:

Wednesday, March 16

  • Keynote: Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble
    Takeaways: “We are now turning to algorithms to identify what we need to know,” – Gillespie (2012, see pres). Google is a monoply and threat to democracy (83% of adults use Google by default, and believe that search engines are fair and unbiased!). The consequences of turning over our decision making to Google, and letting Google filter the world for us, is a tragedy. Dr. Noble’s collected search results were horrifying: she searched for the word “beautiful” in Google images and all that came back were white women, she searched for “black girls” and almost all that came back was porn. The results that Google returns on political candidates can swing an election. Are we really OK with this?
    Teaching takeaway: Teach students about Google’s algorithmic biases by encouraging them to search for an identity that they care about, and see what results come back. (My own test searches weren’t as bad as Dr. Noble’s, but they are still really bad!)
  • Digital Storytelling
    Takeaways: Make visible the work of your library! Take pictures at library events, verbal release for photography permission is often OK. Illustrate all stories with stock images if need be (Pixabay was recommended). You can also make simple graphics using Canva (I LOVE Canva) and simple movies using Moovly. Short stories/features are great to assign to students – help them build their portfolios.
  • Are You Research Ready? Adding ImagineEasy Academy’s Tutorials to Library Instruction at Hamline
    Takeaways: These librarians had students complete a locally customized version of five library tutorials from ImagineEasy before coming into live instruction. Students said the tutorials were boring, but they did recall some information, and it helped them come to in-person instruction with some prior knowledge. Tutorials included multiple choice questions as assessment, but did not embed into LMS.
    Teaching takeaway: I’ve been saying this myself for a while, but offload the lower-level learning stuff into online tutorials and save in-person time for higher-level learning.
    Personal takeaway: Seriously, commerically available library tutorials are awful. ImagineEasy’s tutorials were like PowerPoint slides from the 80s – a click-through setup with tacky stick figure drawings and speech bubbles. We can do better. (Last time I saw Credo’s tutorials [2013?], they weren’t as bad as these, but they were also pretty bad). A future post awaits on this topic.
  • Building a Usable Information Architecture in LibGuides 2
    Takeaways: Conduct user testing at your local institution – the best way to layout your LibGuides will depend on your library website (i.e. whether horizontal tabs or vertical side navigation is better depends on your site). Overall, a two-column format was best – most usable and students retained the most information. Furthermore: use icons for database listing – draws the eye and helps label each offering. Create templates for librarians to use (have to be an admin to create templates). Make a style guide for librarians to follow. Finally, get librarian buy-in by having them sit in on user testing so they can see firsthand how students interact with guides.
    Teaching takeaway: No more than two columns; use icons for databases; no more than one row of tabs (3-5 tabs is best; create additional guides if needed instead of having an overwhelming number of pages).
  • Getting Started with Google Analytics
    Takeaways: Use the Chrome plug-in GA Debugger to see if you put the code in right in your websites. Create multiple “Views” to compare different sources of traffic (e.g. only show external traffic, exclude bots). I’m a relative novice to GA, so I have a bit of work to do to get better at using Google Anaytics. Also, URI is the same as URL. AND – you can create custom URLs to track marketing campaign success (add utm+code to web address, set up view to track visitors that arrived via those links).

Thursday, March 17

  • Keynote: Andromeda Yelton
    Takeaways: It is really super easy to spy on web traffic on the same wi-fi network as you – just use WireShark. Do not create accounts on websites that don’t have https:// at the beginning of their web addresses. Cookies last for two years, and websites know the last time you visited thanks to said cookies. Major library vendors including EBSCO and ProQuest have laughably bad security. Yikes.
  • What’s Going On? Educating Staff About Library and Campus Technologies
    Takeaways: Presenter does tech workshops for her library. She schedules them a week or two out, picks a topic, and just invites people to come. She doesn’t send an Outlook appointment even. And it works! People show. She keeps it casual, low pressure, and tries to have hands-on activities. These come-as-you-are workshops are a “safe space” for people to admit that they don’t know something, and often people “don’t know what they don’t know.” Workshops are a success, plus a monthly edutech blog is also a success at her library.
    Personal takeaway: I really need to do this, I’m supposed to be in charge of training people on technology, but I don’t want to duplicate what’s already offered on campus, but no one from the library goes to those though they would probably come to mine, so I should just do it. Inspiring! I brainstormed a list of topics  to teach about.
  • Lightning Rounds!
    I didn’t take many notes from this – I did notice that the presentation on Lending Technology at the Library inspired a LOT of questions.

Almost forgot to mention: I also presented on Thursday! You can download the slides from my presentation, Scale Up Your Instruction by Sharing Your Resources: Deploy WordPress as a Learning Object Repository! My presentation went pretty well – about 25 attendees and several good questions at the end.

In conclusion, I met tons of awesome librarians, learned lots of new things, and am inspired to try some new things at my library. This was an energizing, rejuvenating conference – it’s so good to get out from my own silo and my own library to see what others are doing!