Going to Austin for the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference was a great way to remember what temperatures above 50 feel like. I could go on about the weather but that might imply that I didn’t attend any sessions. Luring me inside were the snacks and drinks strategically placed in front of the session rooms. Well played, planning committee. ER&L reached an all-time high attendance of 1000+. Compared to ALA that number seems small but for this conference, that’s an impressive number. As usual, the conference attracted librarians who showcased their innovative and creative problem-solving skills. Many of the sessions focused on using already owned ebooks to support open education resources initiatives, workflows management (i.e., doing more with less), and assessment of e-resources. I also noticed a number of sessions about authentication and access. These sessions focused on managing EZProxy (the software we use to manage remote access to our e-resources), OpenAthens, and RA21. RA21 is the project I am least familiar with as it’s still being piloted. So, if you ask me about it, there’s a good chance I may act like I didn’t hear you.
One session that was not quite e-resources based was about artist librarians. By day, they work in libraries. By night, they are INCREDIBLY accomplished musicians, writers, and studio artists. Interestingly, the panelists admitted they don’t do a lot of reading in their off-time. For those librarians who are doing other things besides reading when you’re off the clock, you’re in great company and you’re still a good librarian.
A new addition to the conference was the poster session. One of the posters I enjoyed was about testing journal title links and access. The Directory of Open Access Journals is known to have journals with spotty or no access. A librarian at Florida International University created a program that tested access to every title in DOAJ. The program then returned a list of the titles that were accessible and inaccessible. For the inaccessible titles, the program listed the reasons the titles were inaccessible.
In addition to attending the conference, I was also a presenter. My co-presenter and I presented a session called, “Diversity- More than a Policy.” We focused on invisible diversity; identifying the diversities we cannot see and creating an environment in which people feel supported and comfortable divulging the invisible diversities about themselves without feeling stigmatized. Some of the invisible diversities we discussed were mental health and cognitive processing. Audience members were asked to share other invisible diversities. We also discussed what we called, intent versus impact; what you mean versus how others perceive what you mean. The example we used was the self-perception of being a good information professional versus others perceiving you as a know-it-all. We then discussed how this could impact work relationships. This session was meant to be highly interactive and we were pleased that audience members felt comfortable telling their stories without much coaxing. After the presentation, an audience member and publisher approached us about expanding our session into a sponsored “lunch and learn” for next year’s conference. Just when we thought we were done… truthfully, it’s a privilege to have people respond to what you’ve said and think it’s important enough to repeat. Also, what will be served at this lunch?