ALA Annual 2008 Summary

Overall this ALA annual conference was one of the best ALA conferences I’ve ever been to (then again, I’ve only been to Midwinter’s before this, so there was much more interesting programming this time).  I met a lot of interesting people doing some great things at their library and with technology, had some good (!) committee meetings, and networked, networked, networked.

My far and away favorite session was the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase, which was presented in a novel format – the panel of folks presented their material online a week or so before ALA started, mentioned briefly what it was about at the beginning of the meeting and then invited folks to come find them to chat.  People (way too many for the size of the room!) gathered around tables to chat about the different topics, which included APIs, LibGuides, OpenID, Citation Bookmarking Tools, etc. – all these topics having been chosen by the BIGWIG user community. I loved the fact that the session was on cutting edge topics, rather than having been chosen by a committee up to a year before. Kudos, BIGWIG planners!

The other big thing I did at ALA was take on the informal role as Libraryh3lp evangelist! In every session I went to (and once when I was just sitting in the convention center lobby checking my email on the free wifi) people wanted to know about this great open source chat reference software from Pam Sessoms at UNC. We implemented it back in early April and it truly helped our reference staff deal with the increasing volume of chat reference questions we’ve been inundated with. Plus, there are lots more cool features! But that deserves it’s own blog entry, to come in the near future.

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