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On Wed. May 13th and Thurs. May 14th, I was a “virtual” attendee at the meeting of the N.C. Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) Library Purchasing Committee.The meeting was held at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, and they used Elluminate web conferencing software so that people who couldn’t travel could participate online.Maybe I’m biased because of my experience as an online student, but I had fun being an online participant.The software was easy to use, it included audio and video feed, and the moderator kept a running commentary (e.g. transcribing comments/questions that were out of range of the microphone).

The first session was an update on Lyrasis (formerly SOLINET/PALINET).Nothing earth-shattering, but it was good for me (in the arena of consortial deals) to get an overview.The second session was an excellent presentation by Lisa Norberg (of UNC-CH) on strengthening the library’s website.I’m sure I’ll talk more about it with the Web Team.Her main idea was to focus not simply on usability, but on “Persuasive Design,” which is difficult to summarize here, but I think of it as the website being a part of the total “library” package.

Next was a group discussion on making library resources more accessible to users.The room was divided into 4 small groups; the online participants became group 5.Some of my favorite ideas presented were (1) making services more accessible by providing clear links and using natural-language terminology; (2) making books more accessible by explaining the classification system & subject browsing; and (3) making articles more accessible through document delivery and also by providing help with search terms (thesaurus-but call it something different).

Thursday’s presentations included updates from two book vendors, a discussion about streaming video of educational films, and an update on NC Live.The NC Live update, by Tim Rogers, was another good one for me, to help me understand more clearly how that arrangement works with regard to the online resources we get through them.He talked about some of the new resources they’re working on, as well as software they are working to develop (e.g. usage statistics, authentication).

Overall, I thought it was a good conference, and the online participation worked surprisingly well.