ALA Midwinter!

The American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting is rapidly approaching!  I’m attending (as seen by the badge below), and thought I would share my schedule.  I’m a little more scheduled than usual this year, because I’m a new ALA Councilor.  I’m representing my state library association (the Tennessee Library Association) for the next three years.  I’m excited to see what happens on Council and be a part of what makes ALA work.

I’m also excited to take my first trip to Seattle.  I’m hoping it’s not going to be freezing and raining the whole time, but the weather forecast doesn’t look promising.



SCORE Southeastern Regional Rural Education Summit

 Last week, while I was on vacation (doing homework, mostly), I also attended one day of the Southeastern Regional Rural Education Summit at Lipscomb University.  As part of attending, I submitted a summary to my M.Ed. professor for class credit.  I decided to share the summary with you too.

The Rural Education Summit was an interesting discussion of the issues facing rural education today. The Summit made excellent use of Twitter throughout the day, both by projecting the search results for the hashtag (#ruralsummit) on the screen and by allowing the audience to participate by tweeting questions that were then asked of the panel.  You can check out some of the comments and questions here:!/search/%23ruralsummit.  Some of the websites that were mentioned today are here:


I feel like I learned a great deal about the issues facing rural education.  The attendees and presenters agreed that some of the main issues were the recruitment and retention of teachers to rural areas, the emphasis (or lack thereof) on the connection between education and job preparedness, and the impact that professional development has on rural teachers especially.  The first two panels focused primarily on the connection between education and employment opportunities, with Kevin Huffman (TN Department of Education commissioner) and Bill Hagerty (TN Department of Economics & Community Development commissioner) on the first panel.  The second panel was much larger, but had a similar focus, with more discussion of the vital connection between education and employment.


The breakout sessions I attended included Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Training and Using Technology for Teacher Professional Development.  The first breakout session, Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Training, was an interesting panel discussion that also covered many of the questions from the audience.  The panel discussed what can be done to improve recruitment for school districts, how school districts can retain teachers (which might not be as big a problem as originally thought) and how to improve professional development for teachers.  All of the panelists provided concrete advice and data.  The second breakout session, Using Technology for Teacher Professional Development, was an interesting look at several projects that the National Research Center on Rural Education Support is working on.  The projects included Targeted Reading Intervention – reading intervention for grades K-3, done entirely online, Rural Early Adolescent Learning – a program to help middle schools students retain their desire to learn, and Enhancing Rural Online Learning – a project to help students taking AP classes via distance education to have support similar to what they would have in a regular classroom.


The third panel discussion was made up of “breakthrough rural educators”.  The panel members were all award winning teachers or representatives from rural districts doing innovative things for their students.  There were several interesting programs discussed, including e4TN and the GEAR UP grant.


Today’s Summit was my first foray into education conference attendance, and I really did learn quite a bit.  It’s always an interesting experience to attend something as an outsider.  The breakout sessions I attended also helped cement the thought that teacher professional development is a vital and rapidly-changing part of the education landscape, and it is where my primary education interests lie.

ALA 11 Wrapup

I returned to work last Wednesday after ALA, and, of course, it’s been one thing after another since then 🙂  But I promised a conference wrap-up, so here goes!

Every time I attend ALA, I always feel like I didn’t attend enough sessions.  This year, I went to six sessions.  Which isn’t so bad, I guess…Most of those sessions were on the same topic – discovery layers.  I’m actually really glad I went to so many discovery layer sessions.  We’re considering purchasing one (still in the *very* early stages), but the mix of information covered in the sessions I attended gave me a better idea of what questions I should be asking, when we start talking to vendors.

There were two sessions I found very helpful:  Usability of Next Gen Interfaces and The Age of Discovery: Understanding Discovery Services, Federated Search and Web Scale.  The usability study, done by a single librarian at the University of Colorado, was very interesting.  I was glad to see that he was able to test multiple products and that he wasn’t sponsored by a vendor.  I felt like that gave him a better opportunity to get more useful data from the study.  I look forward to reading more about this study, and I hope that he has plans to continue this type of study.

The Age of Discovery session was very helpful in giving me a better handle on what, exactly, a discovery layer is, and how it differs from federated search and web scale.  It was helpful to have someone there from Deep Web Technologies as well to remind us all that federated searching can sometimes be the right tool for what we’re trying to do.

There were a couple of sessions that I attended that were not about discovery products, and those were also very useful.  I attended Taking Your Workshops to the Web and Goin’ Mobile: We Did It and You Can Too.  Taking Your Workshops to the Web was very helpful in giving me a better idea of what webinars, online workshops and online courses should look like.  I’m currently the chair of the Workshops Committee for one of our state-wide library organizations, and I found this (and the discussion of the various products available) to be very helpful.    There were lots of helpful tips for what kind of information to provide to attendees and how to help presenters .  The two speakers overlapped quite a bit, but there was good information from both of them.

The Goin’ Mobile session was very good (and an excellent example of a session aimed at public libraries, but useful to all).  We are just beginning to consider a mobile site at MPOW, and it was good to hear someone talk about their design process and what sorts of things were included in the mobile site (and why).

Besides conference sessions, there were lots of excellent meals and time with great friends.  Also, I apparently volunteered myself for more committee work!  🙂  (oops!)  I also took some time to wander around in the French Quarter and see a bit of New Orleans.  I’m glad to have finally made it to New Orleans, and will probably be going back for a short vacation in the future!

One other thing that I learned at this conference was that now that I have (finally) joined the smart phone crowd, it’s a great relief not to have to lug the laptop around all day.  I was able to do nearly everything I needed to on my phone, which makes me consider not even taking the laptop to the next ALA I attend.  We’ll see!

ER&L 2011 Wrapup

SO it’s back to the daily grind today for me.  I had an excellent time (as usual) at Electronic Resources & Libraries this year.  It’s always an interesting conference for me, on many different levels.  One one hand, I consider it one of my most valuable conferences that I attend.  On the other hand, I wear so many hats at my institution that I come back from ER&L with more ideas than I could possibly implement.  This leaves me feeling more torn than usual.

See, as the electronic and educational resources librarian, my primary responsibilities are automatically divided.  ER&L always leaves me feeling somewhat inadequate simply because I feel like I never have enough time or support to do all that I would love to do.  In some ways, this is my fault for not making time for things, but in other ways, it’s simply a result of my varied job responsibilities.

As far as wrapping up the conference sessions one by one, I’ll leave that sort of thing to my good friend Anna at the Eclectic Librarian and to the #erl11 hashtag on Twitter.   I have 30 pages of handwritten notes that I’ll be going through this afternoon, so there may be another post later, but don’t count on it. 🙂  Also, you can check out the various websites mentioned (that I caught, anyway) in my delicious account.

ALA 2010

I'm Attending

I'm attending!

I’m headed to Washington, DC on Friday for ALA 2010.  I’ll be around until Monday night, so let me know if you want to meet up!  I’ve put together my usual Gcal schedule, which is way too full (also as usual).

There are some great conference tips on Bobbi Newman’s blog – Librarian by Day.  These are good for both new conference goers and veterans.  I know I picked up a couple things I hadn’t thought about.  Also, of course, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES is the number one conference tip.  This year, I think DRINK YOUR WATER will run a close second, since the weather forecast is looking a little….hot and humid.

ALA 2010 Forecast

Hope to see you there!

Tennessee Library Association Presentation

Whew.  The presentation is over!  It went really well, and I’ll post the same links here I did for them.  It’s Google Earth in the K-12 Classroom, and there’s all kinds of cool stuff you can do with Google Earth!

Presentation slides are at

Links are in delicious at

Now all I have to do is look pretty for tonight’s fashion show and sound intelligent for tomorrow’s panel about ALA!