Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘unconference

ACRL 2013 Conference

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I’ll be at the Association of College & Research Libraries 2013 Conference Wednesday through Saturday (April 10-13). Thought I’d share my tentative schedule here in case anyone wants to catch up before/during/after a session. I have lunches and Friday night dinner open if people wanna meet up! Comment, text me, tweet or DM @edorney to get in touch.

I’m presenting with some of the other Lead Pipe Editorial Board members on Thursday at 3 PM about #diylib culture. We’d love to hear your thoughts before the panel session so we can incorporate a variety of perspectives. Check out our recent editorial for all the details. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 10

8 PM – Battle Decks! – Imagine, Improvise, Inflict: Get Inspired or Die Trying

Thursday, April 11

8 AM – Building a Dream Team: Library Personas in the 21st Century Library

9 AM – Meeting with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members

10:30 AM – Library Publishing and Undergraduate Education: Strategies for Collaboration

1 PM – Hacking the Learner Experience: techniques and strategies for connecting with your instructional ecosystem

2 PM – Poster Session

3 PM – From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy

4:20 PM – Henry Rollins Keynote

Dinner with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members

Friday, April 12

9:30 AM – Poster Session

11 AM – Contributed Papers: “The Mother of all LibGuides”: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design/Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability/The Unobtrusive “Usability Test”: Creating Measurable Goals to Evaluate a Website

1:30 PM – The Art of Problem Discovery

2:30 PM – Poster Session

4 PM – “Love your library”: building goodwill from the inside out and the outside in

8 PM – All Conference Reception

I’ll probably be blogging at some point since this is my first time attending ACRL. Anything you’re looking forward to?

Written by Erin Dorney

April 7, 2013 at 12:18 AM

PaLA Conference 2012

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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

Computers in Libraries – Wednesday

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Innovation Success FrameworkJeffrey Phillips, VP of OVO Innovate on Purpose and author of Relentless Innovation: What Works, What Doesn’t – And What That Means for Your Business

  • If someone walked into your organization and asked you what the process was for managing a purchase order, there would be a clearly defined course of action with designated people working together to get things done. Why aren’t we work flowing great ideas in this same fashion? We need to make sure that there is a process for good ideas so that they don’t just die.
  • There are a lot of factors impacting innovation, including disappearing trade barriers, increasing rates of change, increased customer expectations, increased access to information, and decreasing cost of entry.
  • [New to me] idea of “skunkwork” – a working group completely outside the company culture. Does your library have something like this? Would it work? Does it?
  • To create an innovative business-as-usual model (as opposed to the this is how we’ve always done it mindset), we need to focus on communication, compensation, and culture.
  • Quotable moment: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
  • Companies (and libraries) have an unbalanced skill set. We have lots of training on efficiencies, but not so much on innovation. We need to learn more about trend spotting, customer insights, and prototyping.
    • Question from Erin: Are these skills reflected in current LIS programs? Could they be incorporated in the future?

Unleashing the Power of Your PeopleMichelle Boule, author of Mob Rule Learning: Camps, Unconferences, and Trashing the Talking Head (Track F – Library Issues & Challenges)

  • This session was awesome because it modeled the idea of an unconference/participant-driven event. The audience actively participated in brainstorming topics for discussion, voting on them, and sharing their experiences. Really the best way to learn something – by doing it – so I give major props to Michelle and the Track F moderators Jennifer Koerber and Michael Sauers.
  •  To do: Survey all staff of the library (including librarians, support staff, shelvers, student workers, interns, etc) to find out what they are passionate about/good at. These are opportunities to get your community engaged – they could teach a class or do a training session related to something they personally enjoy. You never know where (or who) the next great idea will come from.
  • How do you counterbalance the fear factor when getting people engaged in this kind of learning activity?
    • Question from Erin: Why aren’t we doing this sort of thing as library instruction? Why not take this approach with our users? Is anyone doing this?

Capturing, Sharing, & Acting on Ideas – Adam Shambaugh & Jill Luedke from Temple University Libraries (Track C – Inspiring Innovation)

  • To do: Look at literature from business, management, and organizational behavior about organizational innovation and idea development.
  • “Fuzzy front end” is a phrase used in the industry and literature to refer to the stage of ideas in their infancy. It’s often the most difficult stage because they are so nascent, with limited buy-in and being ill defined.
  • Ian Alam article on early idea development reveals 3 stages: idea generation, idea screening, and concept development.
  • Because of the random nature of ideas, capturing them in the moment is very important. Note from Erin: This is something I am very familiar with as a writer. I have ideas at the strangest times and if I don’t write them down, I lose them completely. This goes for everything from blog posts to letters to my friends to poems. So this session really resonated with me on multiple levels.
  • New ideas will be qualitative, informal, and approximate. At this stage, ideas have the potential to be successful or unsuccessful so you can’t automatically discount anything.
  • Temple did a “Capture And Idea” project, initially focused on improving user experience. They purchased and handed out idea notebooks to everyone in the organization and had them record ideas. Then, the TULibrary Experience Blog was created for employees to share ideas, which were discussed even further at retreats. From those discussions, a task force was developed to address ideas and issues (the “Fix It” Team).
  • Why would you want to capture ideas? So you don’t forget it, because you can’t share it with other people if it’s inside your mind, and to let things percolate.
  • What ideas would you capture? Problems you encounter (inside and outside the library), behaviors you observe (particularly unexpected), questions you’ve been asked repeatedly, complaints, and cool stuff. Note from Erin: This aligns really nicely with some usability/user observation stuff I’ve heard about. It would be a good way to get staff on board with a user-study sort of project.
  • To do: Look up Catch & Springpad apps
  • Advice for doing a project like this = suggest various platforms for capturing ideas based on comfort level, make it easy and inclusive, make sharing easy and accessible, give suggestions at the beginning to make it concrete, incentivize, and be inclusive.
  • This kind of project really intrigues me. I feel like I made decent headway with our brainstorming session a few months ago, but then I was thinking about it some more and that was probably only the first baby step. If you ask for ideas once, or twice, even, and then don’t necessarily take the suggestions or follow up, people could feel like they wasted their time or aren’t being taken seriously. They might not want to contribute again in the future. However, if you fostered this culture of idea sharing, and consistently asked for and acted upon feedback, there would be more buy-in. People wouldn’t necessarily expect that each and every idea they generated was amazing and will be implemented immediately on the spot. It would just be an understood baseline/course of action to regularly generate and share ideas. This goes for internal an external audiences for libraries – staff, users, donors, admin… ::nerd::
  • Both of these speakers were awesome. You could tell that they really knew their stuff and they were completely at ease in front of a room packed full of people. Very engaging with good content, tone, speaker presence, etc. Probably one of the most seamless and least awkward library conference presentations I’ve seen to date.

Written by Erin Dorney

March 22, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Tentative schedule for ALA 2010.

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CC Image courtesy of wallyg on Flickr

Well, I finally got around to putting together my tentative schedule for ALA. I was honored to be selected as a 2010 recipient of the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant which will help to finance my attendance. A huge thank you to both NMRT and 3M!


Leave for DC (driving) and check into hotel


9 am – 12:00 pm – ALA Unconference, 207A @ WCC

7:30 – 8:30 pm – NMRT Mentoring Social, East Overlook @ WCC


8 – 10 am – FYI: First Year Impressions (and Confessions), 147B @ WCC

1 – 2 pm – 3M booth @ exhibit hall

1:30 – 3:30 pm – Pecha Kucha Presentations of Marketing Ideas that Worked in Academic Libraries, 103A @ WCC

6 pm – Drinks with the Deans at The Gibson


8 – 10 am – PR Forum: Next practices in communications @ your library, 146B @ WCC

10:30 am – 12 pm – Designing Digital Experiences for Library Websites, 146B @ WCC

1:30 – 3:30 pm – ACRL 2011 National Conference Coordinating Committee Meeting, South American A @ Capital Hilton

7:30 – 9 pm – NMRT Awards Reception, Grand Ballroom @ Marriott at Metro Center


9 am – 12 pm – ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference Committee Meeting, Chinese Ballroom@ Renaissance Mayflower

1:30 – 3:30 pm – For the Love of Reference, 202A @ WCC OR Ultimate Debate: Open Source Software, Free Beer or Free Puppy?, 146B @ WCC

5:30 – 7 pm – Battledecks: The ALA Rumble Royale, 103A @ WCC


9 – 10 am – Closing Session: Amy Sedaris, Ballroom C @ WCC

Driving back to PA

What are your plans for ALA? Anything you’re looking forward to? If you see me, say hello, or let me know if you want to meet up. And don’t forget to use conference tag #ala10 and follow @alaannual!

Written by Erin Dorney

June 7, 2010 at 11:06 PM

What is an Unconference, Anyway?

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Today I presented my first poster session at the WNY/O ACRL Spring 2008 Conference in Niagara Falls. I wanted to post my materials here for everyone who was unable to make it. The URLs in my handouts are linked, so feel free to click on them and learn more about unconferences, library camps, and some examples of virtual learning.




I’ve been getting lots of interest in my poster. People seem to have heard of the term unconference but are unsure about what it really is. Some people have mistaken it for a piece of software or a program, which is something I am going to take into consideration for future explanations. One attendee from Canada mentioned that they had tried the library camp theme at their university for students to sort of control their own learning sessions, without much success. However, the idea has potential. Once I have explained the term, most people seem to nod and state that it sounds beneficial.

I’m here with a few other colleagues from RIT, who will be presenting shortly. I plan on adding my thoughts about the speaker sessions sometime this weekend. Also, mega thanks to Bob Chandler for helping me pull all of the supplies together for my poster!

*Picture from page 30 of the Spring 2008 ACRL Chapter Topics newsletter.

Written by Erin Dorney

May 2, 2008 at 5:15 PM

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(Upstate New York Unconference)

After mulling them over for a bit, I believe I am ready to share my thoughts about my first unconference experience. The conference in Syracuse last week (discussed here) attracted approximately 70 participants the first day and 50 participants the second day, even in the face of inclement weather (sooo typical). I was there for both days facilitating sessions and taking real-time notes for the wiki. Notes from all of the sessions (including additional information and linked resources) can be found on the wiki, and I encourage attendees to check it out as well as those who were unable to make it upstate.

As a student, I found the unconference particularly helpful. I was able to take a lot of what I have learned in my various courses and see it applied to real life situations. For instance, I can read about creating a balanced collection all day long, but after hearing from some libraries who have faced book challenges and differing community views, I have a better idea of (and more appreciation for) collection development. I would encourage any library students in the area (from UB or Syracuse) to either volunteer or attend if this event takes place again (I’m fairly convinced that it will). It’s an excellent and zero pressure way to network with librarians and will set you apart from the hordes of other LIS graduates when looking for a job. It’s also just a fun way to get some of the “inside scoop” on what’s happening in the libraries in Upstate NY.

I don’t believe that traditional library conferences will be disappearing anytime soon because they offer lots of things that the library crowd enjoys, including trips to interesting places (aka time spent outside of the library), opportunities to speak with vendors and face-to-face networking and reconnecting with peers. However, I think that library unconferences are going to continue to gain popularity. At the core of it, they are about learning and sharing, without any of the “bs”. For one thing, librarians will always be attracted to free or low-cost learning opportunities (because that’s what we offer to our patrons). Secondly, an unconference offers the type of informal and unstructured learning environment in which everyone can participate without falling asleep during a powerpoint presentation and can leave the room to attend another session without feeling rude.

I just read about an upcoming unconference being hosted by the Arlington Public Library in Virginia. It’s going to focus on “the greening of public libraries.” If it wasn’t a 7 hour drive away from me, I would totally be there. I would love to see more libraries hosting and participating in unconferences. Also, perhaps this “unconference” idea is something that academic librarians could massage into a new learning model for students. Maybe freshman orientation sessions could be held in a similar fashion (i.e. informal, unstructured, discussions with the students instead of talking at them, learning from them as they learn from us, etc).

Edit: Just came across another resource, a newly created wiki for library unconferences.

Written by Erin Dorney

March 16, 2008 at 8:42 PM

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Library Camp @ Syracuse.

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Upstate NY is having its first library unconference! Nope, that wasn’t a typo. What is an unconference, you might ask? It’s sort of like an unbirthday!

“An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants (generally day-by-day during the course of the event) rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event.” – Wikipedia

Okay, so maybe it’s not really like an unbirthday… But more information on Library Camp @ Syracuse, including a nifty FAQ for the newbies, can be found on the wiki. The down and dirty is that it’s taking place in Syracuse, NY on March 4th and 5th and costs US $40 for one day and US $75 for both days (with discounts for students!). I’ll be there as an iSchool student volunteer facilitating sessions and taking notes for the wiki!

There will be some very cool breakout sessions on March 4th including 2.0 show and tell, metadata, public 2.0, social networking, open source, funding, assessment, customer service, balancing the old and the new and I can’t resist a shameless plug for the session I will be facilitating with Jen Sullivan and Scott Nicholson on next generation catalogs (content to be added ASAP)!

The breakout sessions on March 5th focuses more on Collection Development.

What should you do? Visit the wiki, register for the unconference, contribute some content, share with your colleagues and visit Syracuse in March (come on, who doesn’t love the snow?!)!

Written by Erin Dorney

February 13, 2008 at 5:29 AM

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