library.travel

#acrl2017 – it’s a wrap

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Hello, friends.

I wrote a post on Thursday titled ACRL2017 – Day Zero, implying to myself and you that I would be posting daily updates from the conference. HAHAHAHA. It’s always good to aspire, right?

This was my ninth ACRL – yes, ninth – and I was giving some thought to that over the course of the conference. I’m 17 years into this library adventure and I reckon that’s just a little bit less than halfway through, assuming I don’t win the lottery or have a life-changing encounter and open that goat farm that’s previously been my post-apocalyptic Plan B, or whatever. What kind of world will we be living in? Where will libraries be at that time? Where will I be? What choices should I be making now that I’ll be happy with in 20 years? These are some of the questions that were in the back of my mind as I experienced the conference.

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#acrl2017 – day zero

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Greetings from Baltimore, where I and a record-attendance-crowd of around 3400 academic librarians have gathered for the 2017 ACRL Conference. I always look forward to this biennial event not just for the session content but also (obviously) for the opportunity to reconnect with friends and former colleagues, and to meet new folks. And for the eating, naturally.

Baltimore is off to a strong start there – last night we enjoyed a marvelous dinner at Woodberry Kitchen with dear friend Peter. I enjoyed it so much I really didn’t take any photos (once we got going anyway…).


Beautiful space in an old mill, especially resonant for my husband who grew up in a mill town.

Even in a large city, ACRL-time is a pretty high concentration of faces you know, so there are all sorts of wonderful moments where you look up to see a pod of dear friends also crossing the same footbridge.

I thought the opening keynote by David McCandless was excellent. Mr McCandless is a London-based “data journalist” – his data visualizations are marvelous, and he gave an unpretentious, fun, engaging, and funny talk. Again, I just stayed in the moment and simply enjoyed the talk, but if I were going to boil it down to a couple of major takeaways they would be:

  • Context is key – and seeking context is a practice that we would do well to be mindful about, because (especially in a highly visual world, but regardless) the easy path is to not dig deep enough and that leaves us subject to our own, or others’, biases. But you’ve probably all heard me droning on about the importance of context before in the context of user experience work (see what I did there)
  • Making things beautiful, efficient, informative, and clear is worthwhile and it does make a difference.

I will have more takeaways from the talk, obviously, as I have time to process further, but that’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Check out the visualizations online at Information Is Beautiful.

It was a great start to the conference! My Thursday schedule includes a paper on library bathrooms so watch for tomorrow’s report.

#erl16 & #d4d16 – #libux awesomeness in Austin [pt 2]

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And we’re back for the exciting conclusion of “#libux Awesomeness in Austin!” In our last episode, I focused on ER&L, which took place Sunday April 3 – Wednesday April 6. Overlapping a bit with ER&L is its sister event, Designing for Digital: Designing the Future of Libraries on the Web (or, D4D for short). I attended D4D last year, and you can find my writeup on the 2015 event on the DLF blog.

Since the Bloom’s Taxonomy of conference needs had been achieved and we were amply connected, caffeinated, and comfortably fed (more on this later), we were all able to attend to the work at hand – which was to choose from a number of workshop options and sessions, all focused on user experience. I’ve heard ALA Annual compared to “brigadoon for libraries” (pretty sure @shifted was at the bottom of that one! whoever it was: thumbs up!) – this was like “brigadoon for #libux.” A magical place appeared, and oh-so-briefly, my Twitter timeline manifested itself in the flesh in front of the breakfast buffet, in the conference seating, and (later) in line at the bar. It was magical. No, seriously! Fantastic to get a chance to chat, discuss and just hang out in person. The internet is great as a long distance connector, but something about facetime is really special and makes the time and investment in conference attendance worthwhile.

I opted to attend the session track rather than choosing any of the workshops – although the buzz on the workshops was very good, this year I felt like I wanted to try and see as many speakers as possible during the two-day intensive experience. You can see all the session information online at https://d4d2016.sched.org. Also, don’t miss this conference roundup complete with visual notes from Melanie Parlette-Stewart: beautiful!

As with last year, the conference keynotes were amazing: Jesse James Garrett (@jjg) and Michelle Ha Tucker (@michellecyha). Both of these talks are still available via the recording of the livestream. Watch them. Really, really watch them.

Highlights from @jjg talk:

Highlights from @michellecyha

So, what happened in between? Lots! So much, in fact that I’m just going to point you to the presentation materials for Wednesday and Thursday and encourage you to dig around. Here’s some quick hits:

Meanwhile in another session, this happened:

I want to be sure to say that, in addition to being great conferences for legitimate business and professional development reasons like programming and networking, it’s also a huge plus that ER&L/D4D are held in Austin, TX at the fantabulous AT&T Executive Education Center on the UT-Austin campus. You really feel tied into the energy of the Austin web/design community and of the UT campus, not to mention that the venue itself is really nice. During our visit, the weather was lovely and I had more chance to explore the campus and areas around than on our last visit, including Torchy’s Tacos [you need to know about the secret menu]. Oh, and did I mention the amenities – by which of course I mean wi-fi, coffee and conference meals/snacks?

I can sense that my commitment to brevity is being compromised by all my Library Feelings, so I’m going to wrap this up by saying:

  • Thanks to the conference organizers, Bonnie Tijerina, Judy Siegel, and Sandy Tijerina, for an event that’s a highlight of my library conference career
  • Thanks to all the attendees and presenters! So many good conversations – very insights! Much learning! So wow!
  • If you work in #libux, put this on your travel plan for next year. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

#erl16 & #d4d16 – #libux awesomeness in Austin [pt 1]

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The first week of April, Robert and I attended Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) and Designing for Digital in Austin. We returned with our brains full of ideas and our tummies full of tacos – so it was a successful week on all counts.

In fact, as I’m writing this up, I realized that it needs to be broken into two bite-size chunks, so this first post will cover ER&L and I’ll follow up tomorrow with a post on D4D.

ER&L kicked off with a thought-provoking, fantastic keynote by Dr. Dawna Ballard (@dawnaballard), Associate Professor in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. Shes an expert in chronemics. What’s chronemics, you might be asking? Watch the archived livestream of her talk “Finding Time: From Industrial Mythology to Chronemic Literacy,” which (good news) is still available via the ER&L site at http://sched.co/5ZPJ. The big ideas I took home from this talk were around how we experience time personally, organizationally, culturally – and how time functions as an agent of societal structure (which changes over time, by the way). She contrasted the idea of chronos – time by the clock, a conceptualization which came into primacy with the industrial revolution – with the idea of kairos where time is event-driven, a pre- and post-industrial concept (harvest time doesn’t look at a calendar or a clock, for example). She broke down some myths about time and time management, then got us all pumped up about seeking mindful alignment in our lives rather than chasing work-life balance. Balance and motion aren’t simultaneously attainable or sustainable – as she pointed out, that yoga person in tree pose? Not moving.

I should have done a quick Storify before the conference stream went cray-cray because so much was captured in the tweets – and it was really interesting and actually encouraging to see how much this spoke to the audience.

From there, it just kept rolling – so many great sessions. If I wrote them all up in detail, this post would be so far beyond the ‘tl;dr’ territory I feel I’m already approaching. A few highlights that resonated for me in terms of projects I’m thinking about at work these days included:

  • Data Informed Decision Making for Digital Resources” [slides]
    Big idea here: an open library assessment dashboard/toolkit. Yes, this is a great idea. This session went through some case studies on library digital projects, but they focused on pithy takeaways that we all need to think about, for example:

    • Importance of continuing to move library assessment initiatives from being reactive to strategic (some improvement, but still progress to be made);
    • Increasing communication and clarity around organizational strategy so that employees not only know and understand it, but can act on it.

Let me also point you to two great sessions by fellow Indiana library school alums – Stacy Konkiel on “Altmetrics in Practice: Librarian and LIS Faculty Views” [slides linked from session description], and Galadriel Chilton on “Using the Scrum Project Management Methodology to Create a Comprehensive Collection Assessment Framework” [slides linked from session description].

Finally, gotta give a shout out to my husband’s panel, “The Role of Choice in the Future of Discovery Evaluations,” [slides linked from session description] where in addition to some helpful background on the development of the discovery interface in the ILS market and good thoughts about interoperability and data portability, there was also a slide about cheese, giving us a new (and in my case extremely personally compelling) way to think about what happens to user experience when we make those ‘good enough’ choices.

Beyond the great content, the sense of community at ER&L is fantastic – not only did I get to connect with so many folks already in my network, but also had a chance to meet new folks and talk about shared challenges, new ideas, and of course the best places to get tacos in Austin.

I wasn’t able to attend the closing keynote as it conflicted with the opening keynote for Designing for Digital … but more on that later.

That’s it for now, be sure to come back tomorrow for the second exciting episode of “#libux Awesomeness in Austin!”

meetings, friends, food & #trenchUX at #alamw16

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We’ve just returned from the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, where the weather was a welcome reprieve from last year’s literal blizzard in Chicago during the event (although as a former Chicago resident, my heart swelled with Windy City pride to see how the snow was summarily dealt with … it was a mayoral election year, after all). After that, who doesn’t love a 60-degree MW Sunday evening in Boston, right?

I was honored to be asked to lead a workshop co-sponsored by RUSA Emerging Technologies and Reference Services sections and even more delighted when we were able to pull together a top-shelf panel that included the expertise of valued colleagues Heidi Steiner Burkhardt, Pete Coco, Deirdre Costello and Lauren McKeen. The resultant program, We Are All User Experience Librarians: Creating Change from the Trenches, was one of three inaugural ‘Deep Dive’ workshops at the conference. (We even got mentioned in the American Libraries MW preview! Nifty!)

We all had a wonderful time discussing content strategy, content governance, usability testing, and flash ethnography with a group of nearly 30 attendees who hailed from public, school, academic and special libraries. If you’re interested in the slides and/or tweets, you can find them on Storify – I’ve embedded the Storify at the end of this post.

Saturday night, it was lovely to be able to toast my ACRL editor, valued mentor, and all around amazing lady Kathryn Deiss at a party thrown to congratulate her on her impending retirement. I didn’t get any photos but someone had the presence of mind to get this one with Kathryn and the ‘class of 2000’ UIC Resident Librarians in attendance (thanks for posting, Francis):

CYXEsQ1WMAAbs68.jpg-large.jpeg

As it always is, Midwinter was a whirl of meetings and shuttle buses – all in a bit of a blur this year due to an extremely packed schedule of meetings, notably those for RUSA Emerging Technologies Section, ACRL 2017 conference, and ACRL New Publications Advisory Board. Add to that two nights of intermittent insomnia and, well – let me just apologize if I was fuzzy, absent-minded, or drifted past unseeing in a hallway. I am a person who needs sleep!

One note about the conference itself – I loved all the coloring stations set up throughout the convention center. Such a neat idea!

Loved the coloring stations throughout the convention center. Here, my small contribution. #alamw16

A post shared by courtney greene mcdonald (@xoxocg) on

And now, for non-conference reporting:

Earlier in the fall I’d snagged a sweet deal via one of our favorite travel sites (Travelzoo) at a conference hotel, the Westin Copley Place in the Back Bay. We enjoyed it very much – including our awesome view of the square and the BPL!

Hello Boston! Hello Copley Square! What a view! I think we got upgraded. Thanks @travelzoo 🙂

A post shared by courtney greene mcdonald (@xoxocg) on

Speaking of the BPL, we did get to do a quick look-round on Friday morning before the meeting machine started up … what a lovely library. And the new addition looks to be getting near completion, too.

For those who are interested in our foodie adventures, we enjoyed the following establishments very much: Bar Boulud Boston; Towne Stove and Spirits; Row34; and Stephanie’s on Newbury.

Adventures in the UAE #sibfala15

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Robert & I were honored and delighted to be part of this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair and ALA Conference in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates last week. Michael Dowling, Director of ALA International Relations & Chapter Relations, and the Sharjah Book Authority (the organizers of the Book Fair) were the most gracious hosts, and such a pleasure to work with. You can get a good overview of the conference activities from this write-up of the conference that appeared in American Libraries yesterday.

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet and/or reconnect with so many lovely people both from the Middle East and here in the States – including some fellow Indiana University library school alums! We also had the opportunity to do just a little bit of touristing. I’m hoping to write up some reflections in my personal blog, but until then, let me share with you just a few photos …

Slides from my talk, “From Anywhere Library to Everywhere Library: Creating a User Experience Strategy for Mobile” are available online at: https://iu.box.com/SIBFALA15

I pulled together the tweets and such from the conference into a Storify.

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UX (& PDX) for the People – #acrl2015

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I’m still unpacking from ACRL 2015, both literally – oh my laundry! – and metaphorically.

ACRL National Conference is always an especially anticipated event for me: what’s not to love about an amazing collision of content and community, generally in a great manageably-sized city? In recent years, it seems my network of colleagues & dear friends grows ever more far flung … a familiar feeling for many of us, I’m sure. What joy for the gang to get together every couple of years to eat, drink, talk, panel, poster and paper it up, generally with a side of karaoke. (You know who you are, karaoke people.)

PDX

Portland was a delight, and not only for the mild temperatures coming on the heels of a trying winter. Doughnuts! Craft beer! Coffee! Food trucks! Mt Hood! Everything blooming! And so friendly, too. So as not to lose them in the shuffle, an incomplete list of some of the great places we found time to try & hope to enjoy again: Blue Star Donuts; Voicebox PDX; Public Domain Coffee; Stumptown Coffee; Powell’s Books; Red Star Tavern; Swine; Cascade Brewing Company; the Imperial; Bar Avignon. Honorable mention to Clyde Common, highly recommended by dear friend and discerning foodie Peter. On a personal note, my grandparents met in Portland in the ’40s – by way of dancing, naturally – so it was extra interesting to experience the city with that in mind, and wonder what had, or hadn’t, changed since then.

Conference Love

As for the conference, I very much enjoyed the keynotes, plus a few personal highlights from the sessions included:

There were a lot of sessions I hated to miss & for which I will definitely be reviewing materials/recordings, including but not limited to:

Even better, the conference proceedings are already up and freely available – read away! You can gorge yourself on the 800+ page full version (pdf) or pick and choose from the titles listing (pdf).

I’ll admit I carried some apprehension with me as I arrived, as the program seemed filled to the brim with sessions on information literacy and a few other topics that have limited direct intersection with my daily practice nowadays … would I find a comparable amount of immediately applicable inspirations to bring home this year as I have in the past, I wondered? (I did.) And, on that topic: bravo to the highly motivated librarians presenting on IL! I encourage others of us, who perhaps don’t see ourselves or our areas of focus as well-represented in the program, to submit, submit, submit.

One thought that reiterated itself to me, and which I heard from other folks, was to wonder whether it may be time to consider tracks – or any threaded clustering, however informal – so that content from less-covered subjects doesn’t pile up in a just a few time slots, competing with each other. Saturday morning, for example, was a bit tough for me being that a number of discovery/UX oriented sessions were booked in the same time slot. Caveat: Scheduling is really tough, I realize! And I am glad to know that I have access to recordings for the next year as a registered attendee, so I can catch things I missed in person. Still, maybe future program committees can give this idea some thought.

#ux4ppl

Finally, after several rounds of unsuccessful bids to get a panel accepted at an ACRL conference in the past, this year brought success! Yay! Heidi Steiner Burkhardt & I presented together on “UX for the People: Empowering Patrons and Front-line Staff through a User-centered Culture.” We had a packed house, which was super exciting. It was great to see so many people interested in the topic.

Pulling together the materials, tweets, and slides for our talk seemed like a good opportunity to finally try out Storify – and now I’m wondering why I didn’t jump on the bandwagon before! What a great tool for pulling together many disparate pieces into a single narrative. Admittedly, the one below is a bit long, but I wanted to create a record of the livetweeting of the event AND take the opportunity to intersperse some sources, so bear with me. If you jump over to Storify itself by clicking on the title link, I think it’s a bit easier to scan.

Fellow attendees, I’d love to hear your favorite things about ACRL 2015 in the comments. As for me, since my experience on the 2013 Conference Innovation Committee was hands-down the most fun I’ve ever had that merited an entry on my CV, I’m planning to throw my hat into the ring again in hopes of being part of planning ACRL 2017, in Baltimore. See you there!

image: @xoxocg/instagram

LTC2015: thoughts on a great conference + keynote & slides

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This past Wednesday I had the honor of being the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 Library Technology Conference, held on the Macalester College campus in St. Paul Minnesota.

I cannot say enough good things about the conference organizers, the event, the attendees, the programming. It’s wonderful to attend a conference small enough to feel like a community yet large enough to introduce some diversity of interest … one where admitted goals of the organizers are to “make every attendee feel special” and to keep registration costs as low as possible to remove financial barriers to attendance. I so enjoyed meeting and spending time with them. Furthermore, the food was excellent, the campus is charming, they did a bang-up job with their social media, and the video crew was top-notch. Even better, they archive all the content on their DigitalCommons site going back to 2009. It’s a treasure trove of great content.

The standout session for me was probably the presentation by Amy Drayer, Wayne Schneider and Phil Feilmeyer of Hennepin County Library on Lessons Learned In Building a Catalog from Scratch (slides available at link). Wow! I was so impressed with what they’ve done – building a catalog is really hard, yo? They made it look easy.

This year it filled up in something like a day – so be sure and follow them on Twitter @LibTechConf so you won’t miss registration next year.

Since the talk was streamed live (!) I even got to wave at my mom at the beginning.

The LTC Ustream channel has the archived recording of my talk – along with Bohyun’s keynote & keynote talks from 2014 by Mita Williams & Barbara Fister.

The slides are available via my slideshare

Designing for Digital: slides & writeup @ DLF

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It was such a pleasure to be a presenter and participant in last month’s Designing For Digital conference – (briefly) lost luggage notwithstanding!

For a fuller outline of my impressions of the conference, check out my brief writeup of the conference on the DLF Blog.

It was really a lot of fun presenting with Rick Cecil of Bluespark Labs! Our slides are below, and be sure to check out their very helpful white paper on RFPs and other topics of interest to those considering a website redesign or enhancement project.

out & about : spring 2015

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@xoxocg/instagram

@xoxocg/instagram

I’ll be hitting the road a bit this spring – you can find my schedule below. If you’ll be at any of these events, I hope you’ll find me to say hi and chat!