Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

PaLA Conference 2012

with 6 comments

pala 2012 logoJust sharing some of my notes and reflections from the 2012 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in Gettysburg earlier this week. It was great to see friends and colleagues from across the state. Unfortunately it wasn’t 100% awesome since I was recovering from a bad cold, the hotel wifi was terrible (almost non-existent!), and we couldn’t find a ton of great places to eat in Gettysburg. Health, the interwebs, and good food are apparently staples of my happiness. I did really enjoy the tours this year – a wine tasting at Adams County Winery (picked up a bottle of Turning Point) and a nighttime walking tour of the haunted Farnsworth House Inn and Cemetery Hill! I was running around a lot so I didn’t get to attend a ton of sessions (I co-presented a session on Monday, facilitated two focus groups, and ran three unconference sessions – thanks to all the volunteers!).

Unconference session notes

  • I thought the unconference sessions went really well. Some of the same people came to all three, but there were also new people at each one which made the group breakout discussions pretty unique. We tried to get everyone to do evaluations so PaLA can decide if it’s worthwhile to do again next year (in my opinion, yes!).

Playing for Keeps: Lifelong Learning in the Ludic Library by Barbara Fister (Professor, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library @ Gustavus Adolphus College)

  • The Citation Project – great project coming out of the composition and rhetoric fields
  • Student approach to research is to find some quotes that work and rearrange them
  • Being really good at following the rules stifles creativity and discovery – how does this impact how we teach information literacy?
  • There is value in doing things, not just learning about things

Using “The Filter Bubble” to Create a Teachable Moment by Allyson Valentine (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College) and Laura Wukovitz (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College)

  • Panopticlick
  • “confirmation bias”
  • Peek You
  • My reflections:
    • “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser might be a really fun pick for a college One Book, One Campus program to get students to think about this kind of stuff on a broader scale.
    • Filter bubble instruction might work well in Millersville’s COMM100 classes where students do public speaking and have to present both sides of an argument/persuade their audience.
    • I posed this question during the Q&A portion of the session. Are library database vendors picking up on the idea of the filter bubble? I know some systems have built-in recommender services (if you liked this article, you might like these) but what about federated search systems? Do we know if EBSCO is privileging its content over other provider’s content that has been integrated into the results? If we don’t know how the systems determine relevancy, then we don’t really know, right?

The Space Between: Valuing and Utilizing Empty Spaces in Libraries by Alica White (Head Librarian @ Penn State University Mont Alto)

  • If you look at the aerial view of botanical gardens, they are a lot like the floor plans of library buildings (never noticed this before, but true)
  • Sala Borsa in Bologna, Italy
  • My reflections:
    • We need to think intentionally about the space between and around things in our libraries and be strategic about that space. It’s like whitespace when you’re designing a poster or a layout. The eye needs room to breath in order to take it all in.
    • We could brainstorm some way to revitalize “stacks” as content goes more and more electronic. I was thinking maybe you could take out some shelves from the middle (leave end caps and shelves at the top/bottom – even leave some books on the top ones, maybe?) and then put in a row of hanging plants. This would bring some green elements into the space but also create a nice vertical line that’s not completely solid or blocking too much visibility – a way to section off some space without closing it in completely?

Moving Towards the Future: Three Applications of Cutting-Edge Mobile Technologies in Libraries by Carolyn Sautter (Director of Special Collections and
College Archives @ Gettysburg College), Jessica Howard (Reference & Web Services Librarian @ Gettysburg College), Eric Phetteplace (Emerging Technologies Librarian @ Chesapeake College) and Erin Burns (Reference Librarian @ Penn State University Shenango)

  • Write your search terms like a robot
  • Aurasma augmented reality app seems cool
  • The Gettysburg artiFACTS project is a great example of one area the library could be considered an “expert” at outside the building. There’s lots of artwork located in different buildings on campus and the library could “curate” QR codes with additional information (where the piece came from, history of it, etc) for an interactive exhibit.
  • My reflections:
    • Aurasma (or something like it) would be the perfect thing to incorporate into a poster session at a conference. You could put right on the poster which app to use (or, an entire conference like ALA or ACRL could make the decision to use one app) and then if you put your poster up but weren’t standing right next to it all the time, visitors could scan and see you do a pre-recorded video poster talk.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

6 Responses

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  1. This was a really difficult conference to navigate without a car. I love Gettysburg (and there are some great places to eat – I thought J’s at the Village was fantastic) but the conference location was too far out of town without any good inexpensive dining options. And the internet situation at the Wyndham was unacceptable. That said, I really enjoyed the conference. The unconference session I went to was really well managed – just enough structure to make for good discussions. I was worried that I would feel out of place as one of the few (only?) special librarians at the conference, but that was not the case.

    Tara Murray

    October 5, 2012 at 10:24 AM

  2. Tara, I agree completely (difficult conference location to really enjoy Gettysburg). I blame my failure to find good food on my lack of pre-planning and research… usually I try to learn about the town before the conference and have some options ready, but this time I didn’t do that. I really want to go back to Gettysburg to explore the town more and visit the battlefields. It was good to see you!

    Erin Dorney

    October 5, 2012 at 10:32 AM

  3. Just wanted to say that at Champlain, we use Eli Pariser’s Filter Bubble video in the classes we teach to incoming freshmen. We are actually just finishing up the most recent round of these! If you’d be interested, I’d just want to check with the group, but I’m sure it would be okay for me to share our teaching materials with you. This sounds like it was really productive!

    Lindsey Rae

    October 5, 2012 at 11:15 AM

  4. PaLA and CiL are the two essential conferences. And I have been mumbling ‘confirmation bias’ to myself since monday to make it stick in my mind for upcoming instruction. I enjoyed the unConference and gave it high marks, but I think that one hour isn’t enough for this format. I hope they will continue it next year as a double session, or maybe with a public/academic breakout.


    October 5, 2012 at 2:51 PM

  5. Lindsey – I would love to see your teaching materials. Are those one-shot sessions, then? We had a lot of discussion at the session about how well their presentation would translate into one-shots because they were working with a semester-long, required information literacy class (for credit). It sounds like it really resonates with students, did you guys find the same?

    Richard – It was great to see you in a few sessions! Yeah, “confirmation bias” really stuck with me as well (clearly). I agree – 1 hour is hard for the unconference because if you get into a good conversational groove, it’s disruptive to have to break. I hope they keep it for next year and let us alter the format somewhat. Might you be interested in working on the unconference in 2013 if they decide to do it again?

    Erin Dorney

    October 5, 2012 at 9:08 PM

  6. Erin- if there’s an unconference committee for 2013, I’d love to help


    October 5, 2012 at 10:14 PM

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