Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Great Conference!

Hi Everyone,

We've got some great posts so far about sessions and activities in Fairbanks folks in the course attended!

One of my favorite sessions was "Internet Privacy: What do I know about you?," presented by Nancy Warren.  She covered legislation related to online privacy (e.g., Fair Credit Reporting Act), social networking and privacy (be careful what you put on your Facebook page, even with privacy settings), name and address searching (Spokeo.com was a site I hadn't used before), court records, real property sites, intellectual property, professional business information, Internet tracking and how it works, and search engines with privacy options (e.g., duckduckgo.com).  It was an eye-opening presentation!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Alaska Library. Network

I attended two meetings of ALN: the general membership meeting and the Board of Directors, the second of which the State Librarian is an ex-officio member. ALN is a good, if somewhat young, organization. There are currently some 40-odd members statewide, from all kinds of libraries. Representation is greater for larger and more urban libraries, less for school and small rural. This is because of the reachability of its flagship service, ListenAlaska Plus. Libraries and patrons have to have certain infrastructure and bandwidth to be able to access it. That said, the members are doing other interesting things too. Sitka libraries are sponsoring Alaska Spirit of Reading, a statewide reading club, and they have plans to expand their reach through use of OWL videoconferencing capabilities (see earlier post). The Wasilla library has put out much information for librarians and patrons on the use, care and feeding of e-readers, and these handouts were in high demand. ALN has prOmise as a fiscal agent for longtime projects and grants for libraries. We considered ideas for additional services, such as Freegal downloadable music, sponsorship of Live Homework HIelp, and others. Longterm sustainability for ALN is always going to be a problem. It survives only as a grantee of LSTA funding. Nevertheless, as long as I am State Librarian, I will support it. I believe in its value to libraries and statewide library projects, manynofnwhich cannot be hosted easily elsewhere.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Steampunk: A Rapid Romp Thru the Genre
This was an awesome tour for folks that are familiar with the Genre as well as those who have never heard of it before.  Georgine Olson gave a fantastic introduction to this old/new, edgy trend that is popping up in Libraries all over the place.  There were book lists, exhibits to hold and feel, reading recommendations and a well researched Series list.  The sporadically placed themed give aways were the icing on the cake.  She covered something for everyone...and being an Elementary School Librarian, finding Steampunk without the buxom blonde can be a challenge.  We were flooded with information on classic authors and newcomers and the hour and 1/2 was over all too soon.  As a new conference attendee, I can honestly say that his was one of my favorite presentations and I plan to use this information  to inform my students and parents about this fun and eclectic Genre.

OWL (Online With Libraries) Preconference Learning

The State Library has an $8.3 million grant to support all of Alaska's 100 public libraries in getting 1) broadband speed of at least 1.5 Mps, 2) new hardware and software, 3) a videoconferencing network and scheduling services, 4) training in use of equipment and 5) library aides to support the new services/equipment. Furthermore, OWL assists libraries in applying for erate discounts for telecommunication services. The OWL preconference provided primarily technical training for computer and videoconferencing hookup, maintenance, troubleshooting and use, including content ideas for videoconferencing. The day began with an introductory session on broadband and what it means/does. then followed several hours with tech training given by Steve Shields. Steve is a gifted teacher. ; he took people gracefully from a place of less knowledge to a place of knowing more. By mid-afternoon, despite post-lunch slump, attendees were still perky and happy to be learning new things, greeting his revelations with cries of pleasure and understanding -- yes, really! The day concluded with a field trip to the Noel Wein Library where we were given a videoconference use demo and a videoconference that included samples from content providers. We learned what educational sessions can be offered nationwide. We had 3 demonstrations: a Minnesota wolf education center, the Seward Sea Life Center, and a Lewis & Clark Museum/Visitor Center in Oregon. and there are 100s more. We learned as OWL providers too: 1) We need to provide a way to push out to all libraries whatever content is being offered so that others can dial in and share. 2) We need to provide document cameras so that locations can share photos, books, or other paper. 3) We need to find a way for libraries to team up and share expenses for buying content. 4) Libraries also need help with developing videoconferencing policies that follow OWL requirements and yet reflect their local needs.

Tech, Natl Broadband & Net Neutrality

Rats! I already wrote a post on this subject but somehow I deleted it after posting. How can it disappear? The joys of technology, and these are part and parcel of the challenge. Bob Bocher of Wisconsin came to conference as a part of the State Library's OWL (Online With Libraries) project but not to talk about picayune blogging problems. Rather, his is the national perspective. Bob is a nationally recognized expert on broadband issues. His topics, in 2 sessions, covered net neutrality, FCC, NTIA, ALA, Connect America (which doesn't try to include Alaska or Hawaii), internet capacity and more. There is a significant national interest in promoting higher capacity broadband and most places are way ahead of Alaska. Our OWL project works to bring Alaska public libraries up to 1.5 Mbs and this is a big lift; many places down South are aiming at 100Mbs! Eek! Bob has spent hours with Sue Sherif and Rich Greenfield learning about the Alaska Internet landscape and about our challenges. This session was valuable from both sides: we learned from him about what is going on outside and we taught him much more than he had known about the real picture and issues related to Alaska Internet. This will help him make better decisions and recommendations as he advises us on ways to move ahead with sustainability for OWL libraries' futures. Furthermore, Bob's discussion of net neutrality was very important information for librarians from all sorts of libraries. Important questions, discussed but not answered: --what is the definition of "affordable bandwidth"? --what is the definition of "adequate bandwidth"? --how will Alaska libraries sustain costs after OWL?

Authors to Alaska Luncheon

Great session listening to Sneed Collard talk about his life and background as a writer and how he worked his way up to a pretty impressive oeuvre. It all seemed to follow so naturally/logically and yet we all know the choices we have to make at every step and how easy it to take another path. He could just as easily followed his passion for science without following the passion to write about it. So glad that he did not ignore the urge to write! The books he has written are popular with kids, often boys. Sharing his knowledge and passion is a great gift to us all. Very engaging speaker, and I bought one of his border collie books, since I own (or serve as host for) one of those amazing dogs. We were lucky to have not just one, but two authors at our table: Jean Lester and Gay Salisbery. Judie Tripplehorn from Fairbanks served as a kind of hostess and encouraged introductions and conversations. The only sad part was that we didn't get enough time to talk to each other, but that was balanced by a great presentation!

Author's Luncheon Today

I'm up early going over the list of local authors who are guests at the Authors' Luncheon today. Our featured speaker is Sneed Collard, prolific author of childrens and young adult literature. He lives in Missoula, Montana and has made stops in several Alaskan towns and schools on his way to us today. Also on hand will be 27 local authors!

I'm hoping everyone realizes that books by these folks are available to purchase at the Gulliver's Books booth in the Vendors Hall. They've been great folks to work with as far as having books by everyone involved and much more. Be sure to stop by and look at their selection. Make a purchase ahead of time if you want books autographed at the signing, which will start at 1:30pm right after the luncheon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Getting Started!

I hope everyone enjoys the conference and has opportunities to learn and meet fellow librarians from across the state. There are lot's of interesting sessions taking place and I look forward to reading about the many varied experiences you will all have, while in Fairbanks. Welcome to AkLA!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Welcome to the course blog for LS A590!

Hello All,

Welcome to LS A590 at the AkLA 2012 Conference in Fairbanks.  We are looking forward to reading your blog entries on activities you have attended at Conference.  This is where you will post at least 4 different activities you've attended (a conference session, vendor visit, networking with other librarians).  Feel free to comment on anything else related to the Conference!

As a reminder, there is a mandatory face-to-face meeting on Friday, Feb. 24th, at 7:15AM, in the Harper Room at the Westmark Hotel.

Looking forward to meeting all of you and learning at Conference!

Trina and Anna (LS A590 instructors)