Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thought-provoking MLA Conference

The MLA conference was held last week at Sea Crest in Falmouth, MA. I had the pleasure of sitting in on two exceptionally thought-provoking talks - Aaron Schmidt sharing his knowledge about IM reference and Marshall Keys' talk on keeping the library competitive. As usual after attending any kind of workshop or seminar, I walked away with many, many ideas and a feeling that getting and staying competitive is not all that difficult or expensive.

Here are a few things that keep running through my mind:

When most people think of IM they think of teens. But, isn't it probable that in 10 years, when these teens are adults, they will still be using the types of communication they are using now? So, if we miss the boat on getting IM in our libraries now, and we miss opportunities to connect with teens now, we are running the chance of losing the future adults they will become.

IM reference is not frivolous. In a few years not having IM reference will be like not having a telephone at the reference desk. Can you imagine not being able to call the library with a question?

Marshall Keys talked about "radical trust" and the sharing of information. Think about where people are fulfilling their information needs - Wikipedia, Google searches, etc. We need to be part of this circle of trust. Therefore we need to get our library in the face of everyone seeking information.

It's not enough anymore to have a dynamic webpage. We need to have interactive, participatory websites where our patrons have access to more than information - they need to have access to us.

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