Monterey is the traditional setting for this conference, now celebrating its 11th year with the highest ever attendance, as attendees spilled into the overflow seating for the keynote speakers. Though not billed as a Web 2.0 conference, the presenters and attendees were exploring the new generation of Web technologies and their applications to library services. With many repeat attendees and speakers, community was evident in the conversations around food in the exhibition hall and in the corridors between sessions, as well as the Blogger's Alley.
Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project gave a fast paced summary of recent studies. Their research confirms trends toward more gadgets everywhere and increased participation. Yet there is another reality in their segmentation of web users. Only 8% of Internet users are the familiar technophiles, though they are thought leaders. Various types of low tech users are a whopping 49% of study participants. Lee emphasized that different people use technologies in different ways, and this should be reflected delivery of library services.
This means that library services need to evolve, particularly to involve younger, more technically savvy users. Joe Janes, Associate Dean, University of Washington, spoke eloquently about Reference 2.0, minus the usual PowerPoint presentation. He emphasized the importance of joining the conversation of the community, and getting outside the walls of the library. A practice requirement is measuring online activities as closely as gate count and book circulation statistics, to justify budget increases....
The search ecosystem from the library standpoint was a major theme of the conference. Danny Sullivan, Founder and Editor of Search Engine Land, looked back at his predictions for search, which have come true in 2007, with the introduction of blended search results by both ASK and Google, as well as more personalization. Mobile search is the next frontier for delivering information services onto the rapidly evolving cell phone platform. Search on this platform has small, focused results, with more emphasis on local businesses, as effectively demonstrated at the ASK mobile site.
Multimedia was another theme of the conference, from podcasting tools to searching tips for multimedia content explored by Ran Hock. Multimedia materials are highly in demand in the academic environment, but are yet another type of media to find. The technology for creating content is still too hard to use, but new services like telephone to podcast, will make this process easier (a tip of the hat to Gary Price, Resource Shelf and ASK.com). Creating YouTube videos and participating in Second Life and MySpace are effective tools for improving library visibility.
Virtual worlds were another major theme to the conference with libraries experimenting with Second Life in providing library services, particularly to teens. San Jose State University is a pioneer in utilizing Second Life in their distance learning program for the school of Library and Information Science. Cindy Hill pioneered Second Life in the corporate environment for Sun Microsystems.
Gaming and Learning in the Library tracks were well attended, giving a perspective on maintaining relevance to today's teens. A public library in Riverton, Wyoming, provides a game room for a much needed place for teenagers to hang out under non-parental adult supervision.Libraries report participants in gaming also utilize other library services and also become active volunteer, both positive outcomes.
Halloween was the last day of the conference, and the closing keynote speaker, Liz Lawley, Director, Rochester Institute of Technology, Lab for Social Computing presented as Maleficent, her character in World of Warcraft. I found her comparison of Second Life and World of Warcraft experiences enlightening, as well as her message that gaming can promote professional networking, as well as family time. So why can't learning and doing a job be as much fun as World of Warcraft?