Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rebecca's ALAO Conference Report: Part Two

I know I said I'd post this yesterday, but I just didn't get to it until today. So here's the rest of my report; this time I will briefly report on the sessions I attended. I recommend that you take a look at the presentations on the ALAO website.

1st session: Instant Messaging Reference for Academic Libraries
Presented by Chad F. Boeninger and Wanda Weinberg from Ohio University

As a reference librarian who is planning for IM service in the near future, I found this session very helpful. They walked us through the rationale of using IM as a reference tool and how they surveyed their users to see if they would utilize IM for reference questions as well as to see what service they used. The services that your patrons use is important because it can determine which services you want to set up an account with and which client you use. They quickly covered multi-protocol clients, including their reasoning for choosing Trillian. I was very pleased to hear them mention Meebo which is a very popular web-based multi-protocol client (and just came out of beta). They also discussed staff adoption/education and the importance of not making it voluntary. They included their reference statistics as well as survey results for evaluating the service and their future plans for video reference. I found this presentation very helpful even though I've read a lot about IM reference because it showed the entire process: planning, training, implementing, and evaluating.

2nd session: Coffee Shops, Computer Geeks, and Courseware Gurus : Sharing our space with non-library service providers
Presented by Jeffrey A. Franks and Lori J. Fielding from The University of Akron

This session traced the evolution over the years of the Bierce Library from just a library to include many other related & non-related departments of the university. I enjoyed the fact that they were careful to highlight both the positive outcomes and challenges of each evolution, but I wish they had spent a little more time talking about collaboration and how the evolution of the building also, in a way, has followed the way technology and its impact on libraries and evolved. It was good to see that different department can coexist within a library building.

3rd session: Lean, Mean Library Web Site Machine
Presented by Chris Sheetz, Susan Paul, & Ann Marie Smeraldi from Lorain County Community College

I liked this session for much the same reason that I liked the first one. In this case they were implementing a redesign of their website. This presentation took us through their process step-by-step including usability testing to identify problems, subsequent changes, more usability testing, full redesign, and evaluation. I really liked the way they described their methods of having the students use the smartboard setup so that they could observe without hovering directly over the person's shoulders. I'm glad they spent a good deal of time on their methodology because I think figuring out how to perform the usability testing can be the most difficult part.

4th session: Time to Clean out the Pantry
Presented by Laura Kinner, Lucy Duhon, & Alice Crosetto from the University of Toledo

I really enjoyed this session although it was overcrowded into a very hot & very small room. It was very matter-of-fact about the weeding process which is an integral part of collection development. They talked about why libraries weed and figuring out the criteria and guidlines to follow when weeding. Since I was bad and didn't take a collection development class in library school, I found a lot of this talk helpful. The new RCL (Resources for College Libraries) was mentioned during this session which I highly recommend taking a look at if you're interested in this subject. I was very glad to see that they included the benefits to weeding (Yes, Virginia, there are benefits!) as well as a bibliography for further exploration of some of the topics.

Overall, even with the bad wireless and occasional temperature issues, I enjoyed ALAO. The people were great, the food was excellent, and the conversation was thought-provoking. I'm glad that I am a member of ALAO and I am very much looking forward to next year.

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