bigger is only sometimes better

So, I went to ALA, again. My first ALA was Midwinter, in Boston, which I attended because it was drive-able (and I got to stay at the Four Seasons at conference registration rates). I presented at New Orleans, and went to Anaheim to present and attend various trainings and workshops, then went to Chicago because that’s home, and I went this year to participate in some panel discussions and also to accept the 2014 HARRASSOWITZ Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award. At each of those, I attended sessions, as well, and had a chance to hear speakers I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. (The problem this year was that the conference was in Las Vegas. Envision 15,000 librarians at a conference, spanning hotels and conference facilities. Now imagine that those hotels are Vegas casinos, full of Vegas casino denizens. And 15,000 librarians. It was as surreal as you would expect. It was also 112 degrees. WTF.)

Complaints about Vegas aside, ALA does one thing really well: It brings together huge numbers of libraryfolk, and makes it very easy to network with just about anyone under the sun. But it’s huge. I always leave feeling like I got information and access I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else… but that I didn’t get everything I would have hoped for. This week I’ve seen four different things that made me think about the value of smaller venues for professional development.

This week is the registration deadline for LILAC, the Library Instruction Leadership Academy. Now, everyone I know who’s attended says that ACRL Immersion is the way to go for InfoLit professional development, but if you can’t afford that, and you’re regional to New York… here’s an option.

I saw a plug for the Great Lakes E-summit on the NASIG list, and sent it on to our Collection Development Coordinator. The program looks like just the kind thing that would feed into our current conversations about collection building in really useful ways — those are exactly the issues on our plate right now.

A former SUNY librarian who has since moved on emailed me about the Access Services Conference in Atlanta, and, again, it’s the kind of targeted program that is likely to be deeply helpful to an institution with just those issues on its plate.

And then the Past Chair of the SUNY Council of Library Directors emailed me suggesting that we look into hosting the ACRL Standards for Libraries workshop for SUNY, at nearly the same time that the Vice-Chair and I were discussing the possibility of the organization hosting a one-day assessment conference.

The ALA annual conference is a thing. It’s a good thing, and it does some things that smaller conferences cannot do… but it’s not the only game in town, by a long shot. There are more games than many of us realize, frankly.

So tell me and anyone who’s reading: what are your favorite small/targeted/regional professional development and conference-type things?


A small object lesson about the scholarly communication ecosystem

Yesterday I started following links and ended up at the supplementary material for the article “Evaluating Big Deal Journal Bundles“, which reminded me that I want to read it in full. And while PNAS has OA content, the thing I want is not yet available. So I wrestled with our discovery layer for a while, realized it was never going to find an “early access” article indexed there, and submitted an ILL request by filling out the Illiad form manually. Today, I got one of our standard ILL replies from our Collection Building staff. As I started reading, and saw […] keep reading…

Driveby observation on acronyms and initialisms

Three SUNY groups came up in a meeting this morning: The SUNY Council of Library Directors The SUNY Moodle Users Group The SUNY Chief Academic Officers When you treat them as initialisms, they become, respectively in our communal awareness, SCLD, SMUG, and “the CAOs”. If you read them aloud as acronyms, instead, they become “scold”, “smug”, and “chaos”. Man, we are just not doing ourselves any favors! We complain, as a profession, about library-specific vocabulary, and the acronym soup that plagues us, but I’m realizing that it’s not just libraries — it’s academia. I think it’s time to come up […] keep reading…

on apologies

At CLA’s Great Debate last week, library conference and blogosphere fixture Stephen Abram addressed panelist Jane Schmidt with “Jane, you ignorant slut!” You may recognize that as a famous Dan Aykroyd line from Saturday Night Live, from the 1977-78 era. And you may, additionally, be wincing at the thought that someone said that on stage. To a female panelist. At a conference. About libraries. If you are not wincing, please consider this: “slut” is a sexual slur that nearly always contains misogynistic and oppressive over- and undertones, and feels like a shaming attack when it is addressed at you. Even […] keep reading…

on confidentiality and FOI laws

For the past few weeks now I’ve been emailing back and forth with a vendor, debating terms of a license agreement. I struck several terms, both of my own volition and on recommendation from purchasing officials on my campus, and added additional SUNY-specific terms that need to be included. I’ve done this many times before, and usually, the vendor suggests changes to bring us to agreement, or simply agrees, and we move on. (The notable exception is that Lexis-Nexis will never ever ever ever agree to allowing walk-in users, which is an incredible pain in the ass in re: our […] keep reading…

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