Sunday, April 13, 2008

CIL2008: More Session Notes & Wrap-Up

Okay..I'm going to try to make this my last Computers in Libraries post, which means it will have tidbits from several sessions.

Talking about how libraries treat their users (sometimes), Michael Stephens quoted an overhead conversation in one of his sessions:
Every time people really like something, we get rid of it.
How do administrators really know what users want? Can administrators use their own services so they can understand the experience that their users have? (Hint -- every type of organization should do this...and many for-profit companies do just that.)

Cindi Trainor talked about integrated library management systems (ILS) and whether that are "there yet." She looked at four factors:
  • Content
  • Community
  • Interactivity
  • Interoperability
Needless to say, the ILS software she looked at left much to be desired, even those that are forward thinking and innovative. Web sites that did better (and that we're familiar with) are Amazon, Flickr, Pandora, and Wikipedia.

One topic that seemed to come up over and over again was container vs. content. As John Blyberg noted, the container is irrelevant. I wonder how long it will be for us to really understand that? He also noted that the OPAC (online public access catalogue) should not be a destination. That's a message that many are starting to understand.

I attended two sessions that discussed open source solutions. Open source solutions is being used both in large and small organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution. Ching-Hsein Wang talked about the cross searching cataloguing cataloguing that they have built. Benefits:
  • Single search point
  • Faceted searching
  • Term stemming
  • Relevancy ranking
  • Handles multiple object types
  • Scalable
  • Able to do lighter cataloguing (think I got that correct)
And what about CIL 2009? While rumors were that the conference was moving back to the Washington Hilton, I heard from a reliable source that it is not, due to the Hilton being renovated. The InfoToday blog says to stay tuned for information on next year's conference. I would expect them to announce the date and location soon. While the Hyatt is extremely close to the airport (and a very nice hotel), the conference is too big for the space. Perhaps ITI will move it to a larger facility?

Final Thoughts:

First, let me quote the InfoToday blog about the statistics for this conference:

This is the 23rd CIL and 14th under ITI’s organization, and it’s the biggest ever. There are 2,267 people here: 2,202 conference attendees, 283 exhibits only visitors, and 182 exhibitors. They come from 49 states (all except Wyoming), Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The state with the largest increase in attendees is Iowa–72 this year, up from 5 last year. Attendees also are here from 18 countries (including 7 out of 10 Canadian provinces). There are 186 speakers and moderators and 65 companies exhibiting.
If the conference rooms felt tight and if you had a hard time calling an elevator, that is why!

Like many others, I found the wifi for the conference to be poor, however, it is important to recognize what they tried to do and what the "backbone" was. First, Information Today (ITI) built a wireless network for the conference areas, using the Internet "backbone" of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel's Internet connection was not meant to hold that amount of traffic. This is a conference with lots of Internet-enable devices and many people who demand Internet access. I admire Information Today for trying to satisfy our need. As library conferences go, they do an excellent job. However, as Karen Schneider notes, technology conferences do better with technology that even technology-focused library conferences. Somehow we've got to get library conferences to really step up to the plate and deliver.

To be fair, the T-Mobile fee-based Internet service in the hotel was not as speedy as it should have been, but at least it worked. I wonder if those of us, who decided to pay for access, were maxing out their "backbone" at the hotel?

There is a nice variety of food places near the Hyatt, although some can't handle a big influx of people. Chili's had great food, but lousy service (very under-staffed). Urban Thai was excellent again this year (561 23rd St S, Arlington, VA 22202) and good prices. Bebo Trattoria had good food, but slow service. The Deluxe Diner on 23rd (near Urban Thai) is a great place for breakfast (and yes, it is a diner). Peter's Deli, quite close to the Hyatt, has a good breakfast bar and a good lunch bar, both with hot and cold items, and very reasonably priced. And they can handle a lot of people, especially if people do take-out.

I should also note that I ate at the Brickskeller near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. that has hundreds of different beers. This bar/restaurant is an easy walk from the Dupont Circle Metro Station. I also ate at Grace's in Bowie, MD (taken there by car), which had excellent Asian cuisine. Two people at the table had the Chilean sea bass, which was outstanding!

[You may wonder what I'm blogging about food, but this is good info for next year...]

Finally, there are lots of photos and blog posts about the conference. There are 300+ blog posts tagged with CIL2008. There are also many photos (3,000+) of the conference itself as well as what we did when not in sessions. With that much content, it is impossible to not know what this conference is about or like!

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