I attended the LITA Forum November 17-20, held in Fort Worth, Texas. As past president, I also served on the planning committee for this meeting (and I now have abiding respect for anyone who has to find, select, and haggle with conference venues). Coming just a week and a half after the election, there were last minute issues with attendees who weren’t sure the neighborhood would feel safe to walk in and speakers, including a keynote speaker, whose colleagues were telling them it wasn’t even safe to fly to Texas. In the end, there were not problems and everyone travelled safely.
Keynotes touched on the lack of racial diversity in librarianship; the importance of open government data (by far the largest generator of open, or potentially open data), and the need for sensitivity when digitizing some kinds of information. The last topic explored the rights of people who may have contributed to publications in one era, for one community, who may feel violated when that content goes online decades later for the entire Internet to see; likewise, it may be easy to digitize cultural artifacts without realizing the significance of doing so to the community that artifact belongs to.
Recurring themes from the concurrent sessions:
- Data visualization, including building usage measured by number of connections to each wireless access point, and collection management tools that map library collections by historical usage (think GreenGlass data overlaid on library floorplans, showing heat maps of what circulates and what doesn’t).
- Web analytics, including some good how-to information on Google Analytics, discussions of alternatives to Google; and an interesting case study from there University of Michigan, where a campus-wide mandate to gather data to assess learning outcomes is requiring the library to rewrite its privacy policies.
- Work in NISO, spearheaded by the Queens (NY) Public Library, to standardize access to library e-books; they note that some of their e-book vendors require users to go through as many as 17 clicks to access a title.
- A good presentation on the FOLIO open source platform, which is building a library services platform; as something very new (it was first announced in August 2016), it has been unclear when this project might bear fruit. As of LITA Forum, three libraries (Cornell, Duke, and Texas A&M) have committed to going live with it in mid-2018.
In a very busy set of poster sessions, I presented on use of Eddystone beacons, a new technology to notify people about URLs of interest in very localized physical locations. I discussed this at our staff training day in May, and have been able to quietly roll out some floor plan links and other material within ZSR. A major distinction between Eddystone and other beacon platforms is that Eddystone allows for transparency and concern for user privacy.