Friday, January 19, 2007

January is off to a fast start...

Actually, January is more than half over, yet it feels like it just began. There is likely much I should say about what I've been doing, but the things that come to mind are these...

Do you know...? -- I bet you get these questions too. " What hardware should we be looking at?" " What questions should I be asking about this prospective project?" "How do I talk about...?" They come in e-mail, by phone and sometimes over lunch. One of the joys of this industry is that we like to talk, to compare notes, and discuss successes and failures. Opinions are valued.

Last year, I did a several facilitated discussions in Buffalo on digitization. A few years ago, I did a series of discussions in Rome (NY) and Syracuse. It can be quite interesting to get a group together to talk about a specific digitization topic. It is a great way of exchanging information and learning from each other. It can be hard, though, to get people to commit to these types of meetings. Yet from the "do you know" questions I get, I'm sure that getting groups of people together just to talk about digitization is very worthwhile, because there is a back-and-both in these conversations that may not happen in a workshop.

Wherever you are, you might consider doing facilitated discussions around digitization. Consider some pre-reading so that everyone comes with new knowledge and ready to talk. Think about inviting those in your organization that are on the fringe of your project (if you are doing a project), yet should know more about what's going on. Invite the curious. The more that understand, the better.

By the way, facilitated discussions are also wonderful for hearing how people are thinking about what they are learning. You might find that people aren't correctly applying what they have learned. In the series I need in Rome, I found that two people had not heard/learned what I had told them about deed of gift forms. It became a very lively interchange as I tried to get them to realize that what they were using at their institution was not a good form!

IST 677 -- The graduate class I teach began on Jan. 16. This year the class includes at least one student who is situated outside of the U.S. (in New Zealand). The class will be blogging beginning January 29. Although the new version of WebCT (which is being used to teach this online class) allows internal blogs, I've decided to keep the blog in BlogSpot so that others can read it. [The blog posts from last year's class are there, so there is already rich content available.]

I should note that I have more than 30 students in this class and even more than wanted to register, but could not because the class is full. And not all of them are Syracuse University students, but rather are taking the class through the WISE program. At any rate, to me that means that more library & information schools should be offering such as class.

Conferences -- This morning I made reservation for the SLA Annual Conference in Denver in June. Thinking ahead for this conference used to mean making reservations in March, but now...!

Next week I'm at the SLA Leadership Summit in Reno, then in April at Computers in Libraries, and at SLA in June. Although not quite obvious from my conference schedule, it seems like there isn't a "conference season" anymore. There are conferences all the time perhaps due to overlapping foci and the ability to travel anywhere at anytime.

Although many conferences do have some sessions specifically on digitization, I am heartened to see those conferences that are only on digitization. I will be even more pleased when that are more of these conferences -- perhaps regional events. I think we have enough local and regional projects underway so that regional conferences might be do-able. In New York State, I think the Digitization Expo in Buffalo as well as events held in NYC (by METRO) show that regional conferences can be successful.

Who am I? -- When I was a corporate employee, the "who" could be answered by saying what department or division I was in...or what project I was working on. "Who" -- back then -- was an easy question to answer.

Although I'm entering my ninth year as a consultant, I still find "who" a difficult question to answer. How I answer "who" depends on the other person's needs or perspective. The answer might be quick, or long and involved. The answer, though, always must include something about what I've done lately, since we are all only as good as our last thought, project or success.

Last week, I found that in order to answer "who," I needed to mentioned and document every detail about me and digitization. I've placed that document on my web site, so now the next time "who" requires that level of detail, I already have it!

How do you answer "who are you?" If you are like me, you are thankful when the person asking knows something about digitization (or whatever your focus). When the person have no frame of reference, then answering "who" becomes harder. We then have to tell stories, give analogies, and maybe draw mental pictures. As I reminded a friend last night, how we define who we are is often different than the definition that others would give of us. And so we need to be aware of -- and perhaps incorporate, if they are glowing -- those other definitions of who we are.

mmm...11 days left in January...time is indeed flying!

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