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Yesterday, six of us (Mary S., Ellen, Carolyn, Molly, Bobbie and myself) attended the Metrolina Library Association’s 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This was my first time but others had been in the past and gave it high marks. I have to say it was a really great day, and not just because it was hosted by Johnson & Wales University. Those who know me know that I have this not-so-secret desire to go to culinary school, so the location was great and the food even better!

The opening keynote speaker was Dr. Clara Chu, from UNC-G’s Dept. of Library and Information Studies. She spoke on Information Literacy in a multicultural context. It was a thought provoking talk that covered issues ranging from being sure you use visual images that are diverse to recognizing diversity in a variety of different ways. One thing that I thought was interesting was how easy and important it can be to have the ability for student to translate library pages into their own language. If you don’t have fluent speakers on your staff to rewrite the content, then Google translator is a nice low-barrier way to provide multi-lingual content. Even if the translations are not perfect, they can be useful enough to make the patron feel more comfortable with you and your services and more likely to come in and ask for help. Lots to think about from Dr. Chu and she was around the rest of the day and attended sessions and brought up some great points in each about multiculturalism.

The firs session I attended was given by our friends Amy Harris, Jenny Dale and Lynda Kellam from UNC-G and it was about adding interactivity into one-shot library instruction sessions. Now, I have attended dozens of presentations over the years on this topic and I can say that this one was, by far, the most useful one I have attended. Many great ideas and examples were demonstrated that I fully plan on using in my instruction in the future. The one I liked the most I think was to hand out slips of paper to people in the class. On some of them have research questions, and on the rest have keywords. Then you have the students get up and try to match the keywords to the research question. Simple, but a really effective way to introduce or reinforce the ideas of keywords. Someone also suggested that for upper-level students or students who will be using books heavily you could also include some LC Subject Headings. Thus you could have “World War II” as a keyword and “World War, 1939-1945.” to begin the discussion of keyword searching vs. controlled vocabulary.

Molly and I were presenters during the second break-out session. Our presentation was about our use of documentary films in our LIB100 class this past Spring. It was well-attended and well received. I even came away with some ideas for other ways to use films. Dr. Chu was in our session and discussed how interesting it would be to find documentaries on the same subject created by people from different cultures, for example. We found, however, that there was a lot of interest in our faculty status process (we mentioned this in the presentation) so I think there is a presentation in there for some conference – perhaps NCLA where we can discuss the process we went through. I’d be happy to work on one with folks if there is interest.

The final presentation I went to was on library presence on mobile devices. It was given by Michael Winecoff from UNC-Charolotte and Beth Martin from Johnson C. Smith University. Both of these libraries have developed mobile web pages for their libraries that are exceptionally simple and would be easy to replicate. If you have a smart phone, use your web browser to go to http://library.uncc.edu to see what UNC-Charlotte has done. It has a very clean looking list of links. Two stood out to me: First is a ‘Call My Librarian’ list where you can pick your discipline and get a link to call the reference librarian for that department. They also have a simple floor guide and a way to see how many computers are free in the library. Johnson C. Smith has http://library.jcsu.edu/m which is an icon based page where they have links to the catalog, hours, etc. What is interesting here is that they have enabled EbscoHost Mobile which provides a nice interface to Ebsco databases on the smart phone. They mentioned that it worked best on iPhones and Droids, but I think it would be worth looking into. Both libraries are making the code available to anyone who wants it – JCSU got their from NC State who has a mobile web site at http://m.lib.ncsu.edu – they in turn got their code from MIT…..

Mobile interfaces from libraries have a way to go, but these two showed some very easy ways to have a presence on the smart phone without having to write an iPhone app or anything complicated. I was thinking it would be nice to have a way for our students to see if there were study rooms available an book them on their phones…..sorry Kevin……did I say that out loud 😉

Anyway – it was a good conference and I will likely go back next year. Very worthwhile!