Monday, April 16, 2007

CIL2007: Sunday & Monday

[4/22/2007: Just realized that the formatting was ugly in Internet Explorer because I had copied it from MS Word. My apologies. I think I've fixed it.]

Although a Nor’easter has arrived, we were able to fly from Syracuse to Washington, D.C. with only a 30 minute delay. The Hyatt is very near the airport in an area that was once primarily office buildings (think of the glass windows as creating a “crystal city”) and now contains many hotels and restaurants. In an area that could be dead on Sunday, there was indeed life.

The hotel is gorgeous! Beautiful rooms with flat screen TVs and we may never leave!

Computers in Libraries (CIL) used to be held at this Hyatt, but for several years was held at the Washington Hilton. This year, the conference is back at the Hyatt. Having now been through the first day of the conference, I can tell you that one of the rooms used is too small. The center area, which today was used for breakfast and coffee breaks can get crowded fast. Moving between floors also takes a bit of patience. (The exhibit hall and the ballrooms are on different floors.) Since this is the first year that CIL is back in this renovated hotel, I think that everyone is learning how to use the space effectively. My hope is that next year, the conference can be configured a bit different to help the flow of foot traffic.

I should note upfront that I am not blogging live. I have found that when I blog live, I get to haul my laptop (yippee) and type a lot of information. When I write notes and blog later, I synthesize the information differently (and my back likes me better). Surely someone will blog in great detail about the conference, but that’s not going to be me.

Tom Hogan, Sr. opened the conference and welcomed everyone. There are more than 2,393 attendees at the conference, including those who are exhibiting. Attendees are here from 48 states (not North or South Dakota) and 12 countries (not counting the U.S.). There are 130 speakers and moderators. There are 66 companies exhibiting in the exhibit hall.

The keynote speaker today was Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project. Rainie gave one of the keynotes last year and again did an excellent job. In his position at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Rainie has access to survey data that helps us understand how our use and perception of the Internet is changing.

What is Web 2.0?

  • The web as platform
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
    • This is a recurring theme – the Internet today is comprised on content from many sources, including user-generated content. As Rainie described, younger Internet users want to create content and want their content commented on. The number of people creating content is growing.
  • Data is the next “Intel inside”
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Rich user experience (and a free user experience)

He gave examples of different utilities (functions) for Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. For example, taxonomy (Web 1.0) and folksonomy (Web 2.0); Evite (Web 1.0) and (Web 2.0).

There are six hallmarks of Web 2.0 that matter to libraries:

  1. The Internet has become the computer. Computer users equal Internet users.Broadband adoption continues to increase. Broadband allows users to have a different – more robust – Internet experience. Also wireless connective has increased, allowing people to be more mobile. More people are using the Internet from more places. Broadband turns the Internet into a destination that is fun and entertaining. Broadband has allowed video to be a big part of user experience on the Internet. Broadband allows makes people’s Internet use more social.
  2. Tens of millions of Americans, especially the young, are creating and sharing content online. And the Internet has become a switchboard for social life (including documenting that social life). He had a chart that showed that content creation online diminished by age group; so the younger the person, the more content that person created online.
  3. Even more Internet users are accessing content created by others. People do verify (vet) the information – even the young. If they need to be sure of the information’s accuracy, they do extra searches or check with their social network.
  4. People are sharing what they know and feel online. Some blogs – although public – are really meant for a small number of close friends.
  5. Know how and processing power are increasing and being shared – peer to peer networks, grid computers, open source software.
  6. Users are customizing their content “pages.”

He quoted Pam Burger ( and her five challenges of Web 2.0:

  1. Navigation – transitioning from linear to nonlinear. Allowing information to be re-found.
  2. Context – learning to see the connections between data/information.
  3. Focus – practicing reflection and deep thinking. Having time when you’re not doing continuous partial attention.
  4. Skepticism – learning to evaluate web information.
  5. Ethical behavior – understanding the rules of cyberspace (surveillance & privacy).

He ended with the Michael Wesch video on Web 2.0 which you can see in YouTube. (And if you haven’t seen it, go find it! It explains Web 2.0 in a way that you will understand.)

One of the things Rainie talked about was that kids understand the different levels of friendship and that not all information is meant for all “friends.” We fear that kids are living their lives too openly online, however, the research they have done shows that most kids are being careful. As he said, they’ve gotten the message and are not being too public with their lives.

Ken Roberts, CEO, Hamilton Public Library (Canada) spoke on “Building Communities, Connections & Strategies.” The Hamilton Public Library is an amalgamation that was created in 2001. What is unique about this award winning library is the care and attention they have paid to their web site and online users. One-third of their library visits takes place online (i.e., library databases not just web hits).

In 2002, the library began a community portal project, with many partners, and with the goal of making more community information visible as well as elevating the information that could be found in the library. The portal has increased usage for smaller organizations (not for profits) and helped people find resources, etc., that they may not have known existed. It is the “google” for Hamilton. It uses a robust content management system that allows the partners to maintain their content easily. The portal includes Web 2.0 features (e.g., RSS and web casting). Users use a single sign-on (for any content that requires a sign-on). With the CMS, the library did have to train content creators and has done user training too.

Library cards are now issued online via the portal. The cards are issued after one hour, allowing the library to verify basic user information against a database (address, phone number). People never need to go to a library branch to get a library card.

One of the key things Roberts said was that libraries should spend less money on creating lots of tools and more money on publicity. People need to know what you have! The library has used several publicity vehicles including “advertising” with the Hamilton Canadian football team.

He noted that their community partners on the portal have allowed them to do partnership in other areas. And he gave advice in regards to partnerships.

  • Remember that you are all in the same boat. Their problems are your problems.
  • Your reputation as partner will proceed you.
  • Commitment to a common vision and goals is key.
  • Need to build trust.
  • Must recognize that their will be different organizational cultures.
  • The sustainability model will evolve.
  • The project will be under sourced.


  • Organizational structure/power partners (some partners are more powerful)
  • Inclusion and balance
  • Changing priorities – the vision need to be sold to the entire organization so that everyone has the same priorities.
  • Sustaining the partnership
  • Implementing new stuff

What do you need to succeed?

  • Trust & respect
  • Shared values
  • Engage the right people
  • Start small, think big
  • Integrate with core business
  • Test!!!!!!
  • Celebrate success and excuse mistakes

An outcome from the portal project is that some of the roles (job descriptions) of libraries were changed (upgraded), since they are now interacting more with community groups and are creating content.

Finally, the Hamilton Public Library does have a virtual library branch that covers “any service that doesn’t involve walking through the door.” The virtual branch does have a staff.

The Hamilton Public Library is exploring Second Life, but does not have an island yet that is visible.

Jessamyn West’s ( blog) talk was entitled “Pimp My Firefox” (okay…that was the informal title). Her presentation is online at I had not heard Jessamyn speak before, although I certainly knew who she was. Her presentation was fast-paced and information packed. Go to her web site and look at her full presentation if you are interested in customizing your use of Firefox. I definitely found some things I want to try out!

Karen Huffman – Manager, Knowledge Initiatives, National Geographic Society – and – Derek Willis, Research Database Manager, The Washington Post – spoke on “Mashups, Remixing Info & Making Data Browsable.”

Huffman’s presentation is online at Huffman said that our desktops are moving to the Internet where our users are. This is enabling new opportunities. At National Geographics, the library sees itself as operating the “white space” on the organization chart where they can be change agents. They “learn about emerging technologies through practical applications.” They are re-purposing the assets of the Society for use on the Intranet or Internet.

It was amazing to see what NGS is doing. My notes could not adequately capture what she showed, so look at her presentation. They are being very creative in their use of Web 2.0 tools as well as their repurposing of content.

Having now worked with wikis, RSS, content management, etc., (wow!) they will now be looking at making content Blackberry friendly, social bookmarks, and gadgets. BTW the wiki software they are using is

Her advice was to prototype ideas and to keep things simple and personal.

Derek Willis talked about creating browsable content using Django. Working for a newspaper, he saw content that was not used in the print or online editions, yet was useable. (“What data do you have they you’re not using?” – This is an important question that every organization should be asking itself.) They are using (free). Examples of how Django is being used can be seen at:

He uses Django for browsing not searching. Allows people to browse content and discover what they want.

As wonderful as it was to see what the National Geographic Society is doing, it was also wonderful to see how the Washington Post is making content available to users that was previously tossed out.

I heard Marshall Breeding – Director for Innovative Technologies and Research, Vanderbilt University – give two presentations today.

Millennials & the Library – Last year, the Millennials were talked about a lot. This year, so far I’ve only heard Lee Rainie and Breeding talk about Millennials. Does that mean that we understand them better? Or does it mean that we’ve defined them enough, we know what they mean to us, and now we just want to innovate to keep them involved in the library?

Some key thoughts:

  • They are comfortable with diverse types of digital media. Can we help them use diverse types of media through the library? Can we help them create diverse types of media?
  • Status and authority do not impress them.
  • They want content that is digital and immediate.
  • They want to discover information more like the way they discover information on the web.
  • They want access to information anytime and anywhere.
  • Satisfying the Millennials will also help us satisfy the needs of other users. More digital. More immediacy.
  • They prefer graphics over text.

Access needs to be:

  • Immediate
  • Collaborative
  • Intuitive
  • Mobile
  • Flexible

The web has created a heightened sense of user expectations.

Breeding showed a video of finding Time magazine on a library web site. At the moment, I don’t know where it is online, but it was very funny! It showed how content can be buried (something we already know).

He talked about decoupling the front-end of library systems from the back-end. He believes that we are working towards the next generation of library interfaces that will focus on discovery and delivery. We can’t be reliant on metadata for discovery (which tied into the final two talks of the day).

Catalogues need to provide equal footing for digital and print collections. Right now they don’t.

Using Google & Search Engines to Expose Digital Content – Breeding talked about how Vanderbilt has made its TV news archives more visible on the Internet by exposing more items to search engines. Right now their work is geared for Google, which is being used by more people than the other search engines. They are using the Google sitemap protocol and Google Analytics to expose content and track usage. The result is that more users are finding their content through Internet search engines when they search on topics covered in the TV news archive. The users do not have to be specifically looking for the archive.

The last speaker I heard to day was Tamas Doszkocs – Senior Computer Scientist, National Library of Medicine – who spoke on Metadata Search & Clustering Engines.

Clustering allows users to find like items. It creates order out of chaos. It allows people to find patterns.

Metasearch is a distributed and enhanced search to find more relevant items.

Doszkocs showed us several web sites that use either clustering or metasearch such as

He talked about four versions of metasearch:

  • Version 1 delivered results from several different databases.
  • V.2 merged the results into one results list.
  • V.3 provides clustered results.
  • He believes v.4 will provide added value features.

The day ended with a reception in the exhibit hall and the opening of the exhibit hall. It was a full day! Tomorrow promises to have even more packed into it.

Personal -- I used to live in College Park, MD so the greater D.C. area (grad school) always feels familiar. Yesterday we were able to go to the Sackler Gallery (Asian art) and visit a tiny bit of the Freer Gallery (and see an exhibit of James McNeill Whistler's miniature paintings). Both galleries are part of the Smithsonian Institution, which are open to the public for free. The Smithsonians are a wonderful treasure.

As always, people at the conference are friendly and helpful. Things here run smoothly because we -- the attendees -- help them to run smoothly. It is an amazing thing.

Most interesting today, outside of the sessions, was trying to cross the street to get to McDonald's for lunch! We were basically crossing a six-lane highway! (We made it with the help of a police officer who stopped traffic for us. Thank you!) Of course, situations like that are where you find people to talk with, which made lunch interesting.

Sadly, it was at lunch that we heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech. More than 30 people have died. All of the details have not been released. While we laughed and learned this afternoon, I know that many others were mourning. My heart goes out to them.

Technorati tag:


Unknown said...

Jill, thanks for this, it is another really useful post for those of us too far away to come to CIL. I've already spoken about some of the issues you highlighted at a senior managers meeting here this morning and I've encouraged others to read this neat summary of the conference. I think there is a problem with your blog software or some browsers not reading your bulleted lists and I'm not sure the second link posted as an example of Django (after Chicago Crime works). Cheers and thanks again,

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...


Thanks. I corrected the Washington Post (no "s") URL.