As part of the travel grant I was awarded, I had to write up a report about attending the recent LITA Forum conference. Below is the essay.
A shout out goes to Christina Harlow who also attended the LITA Forum and provided some excellent live tweets. I highly suggest you follow her on Twitter – @cm_harlow
Last week, with the support of the LACUNY Professional Development Roundtable Travel Grant, I attended the ALA LITA National Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not only did I have the opportunity to present my research, entitled Testing on a Tablet: Usability Testing of a Mobile Library Website, I attended several sessions on other librarians’ projects involving technology. I also attended 3 keynote presentations. These themes focused on the importance of “play” in engineering and the maker movement, how workflows are a new type of content creation among institutional repositories, and hackathons created by and for the transgendered community. The LITA National Forum also provided many networking opportunities to connect with other librarians. This was my first time attending the conference and I found the programming to be both enlightening and engaging.
There were many sessions that I attended during the conference. The first session I attended was Jason Griffey’s work on LibraryBox 2.0. The LibraryBox is a standalone digital distribution device that allows users to connect and download content such as multimedia, eBooks, and other materials. Academic, public, and special libraries are using it to provide access to copyright-free works. Another session focused on a reading list tool created by librarians from Louisiana State University libraries. This provides an easy way for faculty to automatically include EBSCO electronic resources into their Blackboard courses at the literal click of a button. Using the little known LTI protocol, librarians were able to create a seamless method to provide eResource links without the need to wrangle DOIs or permalinks. Other sessions included website design to reduce cognitive load (Zoe Chao of the University of New Mexico), and a new type of website development that avoids complete redesigns and uses the agile approach to creating library sites (Tammy Allgood Wolf of Arizona State University).
The keynote presentations of the conference were thoroughly enlightening. Prof. AnnMarie Thomas discussed her work on the Maker Education Initiative and the how “play” can be used as a pedagogical technique in engineering. Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC examined the importance of how libraries should adapt its services to support external workflows in the context of networked and linked information. The closing session ended with a presentation of Dr. Kortney Ziegler’s work on TRANS*H4CK (http://www.transhack.org/), a tech event that highlights mobile apps and startups by and for the transgendered community. Dr. Zielger mentioned that librarians can be inclusive of this community by highlighting their research, inviting them to speak, and to demonstrate their work.
Other than presentations and keynotes, the conference also had networking opportunities such as luncheons and dinners. I met several librarians during the lunch sessions, including ALA President-elect Sari Feldman, where we discussed the future of technologies in libraries. Even though I was not able to attend every session of the conference, much of it was discussed online on Twitter using the hashtag #litaforum. This provided another virtual level of networking. Additionally, presentations are available for download through the ALA Connect website.
The LITA Forum is a rich resource for any information professional interested in library technology. There are many initiatives here that I believe that CUNY libraries could undertake for the sake of our students and faculty. Many thanks go to the LACUNY Professional Development Committee for allowing me the opportunity to attend.