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LITA National Forum is a three day event that is packed with choices of interesting concurrent sessions plus 3 separate keynote addresses. There is always the problem of picking the best session to attend, but the nice thing about Forum is that it is a more intimate conference (around 300 attendees) and all the sessions are within a stone’s throw of each other. In addition, the conference feeds us breakfast, lunch on Saturday and has breaks a couple times each day. All of this is designed to facilitate an environment conducive to networking among the attendees. There are networking dinners held each evening, and for the past few years, I’ve been asked to host one. It is one of the highlights of the weekend because it is a relaxed way to meet new colleagues and have some lively discussion. At last evening’s dinner, we had 11 people at Joe Buck’s BBQ. At one point, one end of the table was busy discussing the Zombie Apocolypse while down at my end I listened to the most enthusiastic exchange on the 856 field in the history of librarianship. Question: Which end of the table was Giz seated at? Seriously, the chance to network and establish new connections is one of the most valuable benefits of the Forum.
The theme of the conference (Rivers of Data, Currents of Change) meant the sessions included a great deal about data, discovery and emerging technologies. I tried to sample different types of subjects so attended one session about the Library as Publisher (online journal publication at Oklahoma State University), Building a Habitat for Digital Humanities: adding digital project support to library services (by Auburn, I had to go to that for just the name alone), Data Management Services as a Foundation for Repository Growth and Integration and Finding Finding Aids (about a project at Auburn to crosswalk MARC records for finding aids into CONTENTdm). I took detailed notes so will be glad to share them to anyone interested!
My role as the Chair of next year’s Forum Planning Committee required some of my time this year. It was important to be observant throughout the weekend to talk to people about what they liked (or not) about this year’s Forum, so my committee can adjust, improve, expand, correct things for next year’s conference. As is the tradition, the two committees (this year’s and next year’s) met today over an early morning breakfast to debrief. Then the torch was passed to the 2012 Planning Committee and I am returning home with many great ideas and a very long “to-do” list to help the committee put together a great conference for next year!