My first conference presentation

So I’ve survived my very first professional conference presentation. I think it went well. When I occassionally looked out into the audience while I was speaking, I saw heads nodding and faces smiling. Good sign.

It was a bit surreal listening to the translator speaking into the microphone at the side of the room while I was talking. And seeing the delayed reaction of the people who were wearing the headphones to what I was saying. But bravo to Reforma National Conference for providing such a great service to the multi-lingual audience.

You can see my presentation slides, and those of my co-presenters Loida Garcia-Febo and AnaRita Puertas-Meyers on Webjunction at

I spoke about online communities, storytelling, and user experience design. I’m a dilettante, at best, in all three, but I hope I was able to connect the dots for some people. It was fun researching and writing the presentation. If we get accepted to the ALA conference 2009, then we’ll have a chance to give the presentation again.

Preparing for catastrophes at PLA 2008

When I’m at library conferences, I tend to seek out everything that is related to international librarianship and disaster recovery and prep.  This afternoon, I’ll be attending a session at PLA 2008 about Catastrophe Readiness and Response: Proactive Roles for Public Libraries (see session 220) which should be interesting.  I have to say, however, that I’m a little disappointed that this is the only session on disaster preparedness at the conference this year.  I would love to see more research and sessions on how public libraries can be part of a community’s disaster preparedness plan.

It seems that academic libraries spend more time and energy on their own internal catastrophe planning, because they usually house collections that are either unique or hold more monetary or historical value. Not that public libraries don’t have collections that hold value.  When I attended the ALA Annual Conference 2006 in New Orleans, during a volunteer clean up day, I saw a collection of local African-American history in the Treme Library that we were gutting.  The Treme library had been a children’s library in a New Orleans neighborhood that had been home to musicians and other creatively engaged citizens of New Orleans.  The library had taken about 12 feet of water, and almost the entire collection was destroyed.  What was lost was not only a community center which had been an afternoon and weekend hangout for the local kids, but also this small tangible piece of the city’s history.

John Wood, of Room to Read, opened the PLA conference and shared with about 1000 librarians his vision and plan to educated 10 million children in the developing world by the year 2020.  He talked about the reason why Room to Read entered Sri Lanka right after the devastating disaster they experienced. He had read somewhere that for children, after a disaster, a return to normalcy was a very important part of their healing.  And for children, what does a return to normalcy include?  Why, school of course.  So Room to Read went in after this year will have rebuilt or built new 80 schools.

I can imagine children’s storytimes, afternoons at the library reading books and playing computer games would also seem like a “return to normalcy” to children affected by a disaster.  For adults, public access computers could be a vital link to applying for FEMA aid, contacting loved ones by email, contacting insurance companies, etc.?

I would also love to see any training for library staff in disaster preparedness that is similar to what Red Cross and other disaster recovery organizations go through.  Or, at least significant partnerships with disaster recovery organizations so that libraries are included in their disaster prep plans. At the least, it would be great to see some research sponsored that would survey what public libraries are already doing.

I wrote in BlogJunction a longish post about ideas on global policy intersecting with local policy, and the importance of collaboration that might be interesting to readers of this blog.

Emerging Leaders ’08, World Cafe

Members from last year’s Emerging Leaders ’07 Cohort and EL ‘o8 met together today to discuss how ALA can engage young and new librarians into the American Library Association (ALA). The format of the discussion was the World Cafe facilitation model, which I found to be highly engaging. The key is to ask the right questions. A lot of concrete suggestions and bigger questions were brought up about how to change the structure of ALA to be more inclusive, transparent, and utilizing the creativity and talents of its members. A charge was made by ourselves to ourselves to be the change we want to see, and to engage in “strategic complaining”. I have pictures of some of the brainstorming sheets that I will post as soon as I can download them.

I’d like to see how this method could be used in a virtual environment.

Update: Ellieheartslibraries gives a much more detailed description of the process and how it worked out for this cohort.

Emerging Leaders ’08

I attended the full day workshop for the Emerging Leaders ’08 yesterday and left feeling energized and ready to get more involved with ALA.  So I guess it’s working!

The presentation from Maureen Sullivan was great, though I wish there had been more role-playing and active training in the concepts she was talking about.  And I love being in a group of highly-motivated people that are all willing to invest energy and creativity into a project.   Though I am a little nervous about the amount of work ahead, I’m sure it will be worth it once ALA Anaheim rolls around.

REFORMA National Conference III in El Paso, TX

I attended an RNC III Conference Planning meeting last night and am really excited about the long awaited 3rd national REFORMA conference.  I’ve never been to El Paso, but I think it’s proximity to the Mexican border will be a wonderful opportunity for librarians and people in interested in libraries and books from Mexico and U.S. border areas to attend.  I look forward to the Spanish and English language networking and knowledge exchanges that I’m sure will be occurring.

Ojala, nos vemos en El Paso!

ALA Midwinter Philadelphia

I will be attending ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia as part of the Emerging Leader ’08 cohort. I will be trying to attend as many IRRT and REFORMA events as possible, but am afraid that I won’t have time for too many. Stay tuned for my posts of the event.
Attending Midwinter ALA Philadelphia 08