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Yesterday I arrived in Virginia Beach, VA in anticipation of the 2009 ILLiad International Conference scheduled to begin bright and early on Thursday morning.A Pre-Conference Social was held last evening which provided a variety of mingling opportunities.Attendees could play tennis and go bowling on a Nintendo Wii game system or release your inner rock star on the X-Box game, Rock Band.If the virtual world wasn’t your style there was the futuristic opportunity to steer a Segway Personal Transporter.Of course, you could also just choose to talk to people.I tried a little of everything.

This morning’s Keynote Session involved a “Fireside Chat” format between Genie Powell of Atlas Systems, Cyril Oberlander of SUNY Geneseo and Anne Beaubien from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!).The topic was “The Future of Resource Sharing.” The consensus seemed to be that libraries should explore ways of establishing a seamless (to the patron) process of obtaining materials whether they are from our collection or through ILL, much like an Amazon search that ultimately arrives at your own front door.Offering cost alternatives to the patron such as free (but it will take at least X days) or cost (and it will only take Y days) was suggested to let the patron influence the delivery times libraries can offer. Given the ease of availability through internet sites, libraries may also need to explore whether purchasing a used book is more cost effective than borrowing through ILL.The current economic times were seen as an opportunity to redefine how we provide resources that are not in our collection including opportunities for more interlibrary collaboration and more patron initiated services.

The next session was an introduction to the next release of ILLiad, ILLiad 8.Slides were shown of the new interface which is reminiscent of the Microsoft 2007 products.The format will utilize “ribbons” to correspond to a selected function tab.The audience response to the changes seemed favorable.It is expected that the new version will be rolled out this summer.

I then attended a Copyright Round Table hosted by the Copyright Clearance Center.Most of the session was spent defining the “rule of 5” from the Section 108(g)(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act.The number of questions clearly indicated a need for better clarification of the CONTU guidelines established to help comply with the rule. Most of the topics on the planned agenda were never presented.

After lunch and a sunny stroll down the Boardwalk it was back to an other session.This one was titled, “Finding the Hard to Find and Keeping Track of It.” The speaker was Tina Baich from IUPUI who advocated for social bookmarking services to organize links to resource sites. (such as delicious)These sites offer alternative borrowing options apart from WorldCat. Sometimes the holding are listed in WorldCat but the library does not lend via OCLC.I expect this to be the most practically applicable session I attended.

The last session was probably the most fun which is a good thing as it kept me from the usual afternoon slump.Two ILL staff members from the University of California-Fullerton offered suggestions for “Hiring, Training, Retaining and Motivating Student Assistants.” Their concept was to instill a sense of community in the ILL office as well as the library.They give t-shirts to their employees with ILL slogans such as “Licensed to ILL” and “You are Not A Loan…But We Are.” They have the students do reverse Trick or Treat where they pass out candy on Halloween so they get to meet everyone in the library.They have a bulletin board for post cards from anyone who goes on vacation. “Getting to know you” questions are posed to new students and the answers are posted in the ILL office for the other students to read.In the summer they hold Olympic Games with contests that combine fun and training such as a packaging contest and book truck naming (reported to reduce lost book trucks).The session attendees got to practice some of the get acquainted questions on one another as well as playing OCLC Jeopardy.Among the Jeopardy questions, no one in the room could tell them what ILLiad stood for.

There’s nothing like a conference like this to help you realize that you don’t know it all even if you’ve done it for years.I’m looking forward to two more sessions tomorrow morning.Now that it’s raining here and the temperature has dropped drastically, I’m calling it a night.