Conference Review: LITA National Forum 2010

I love LITA. It’s small, friendly, and full of geeks, but not overfull of  the kind of geeks that are incapable of speaking in anything but strings of acronyms.

This was my third LITA, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I was presenting on the last morning of the conference, so skipped the usual networking and socializing that goes on because I was practicing, practicing, practicing in my hotel room in every free moment. Atlanta was sunny and 75 degrees, but I only stepped outside getting out of the shuttle from the airport and getting back in (and yes, it went well — full room, lots of questions, positive tweets, and best of all, was introduced by a former BGSU cataloging student, Michael Witt at Purdue, who said his choice of librarianship as a career was influenced by the great experience he had at BGSU. And he has done very, very well, as you can see from his resume).

Theme: The Cloud and the Crowd

Adelle Frank, a LITA committee member and a Poster Session Presenter, did a great job of summarizing the twitter highlights for each session for some Insta-reviews.



John Davison and the OhioLINK DRC get mentioned TWICE as pioneers in cloud-based computing for libraries, once in the GALILEO presentation, and once in Roy Tennant’s keynote presentation, in which he quoted extensively from an email written by John about putting DSpace instances in the Amazon Cloud. (I just found this out in conversation with John  — he put the first Amazon cloud space on his personal credit card as proof of concept to show to OhioLINK that it could be done. This should make everyone respect and admire John even more.)

Tips for attending LITA:

There are 3 keynote sessions, and in the years I’ve been, they have been of uniformly high quality. So go.

Concurrent sessions are usually small (50-100 people or so) so there is plenty of useful conversation and question and answer at the end if the session warrants it. And you can usually see who is asking the question and engage with them later if interested, which is very nice.

They’ve introduced some 1/2 sessions of 30 minutes each, which is also nice — more variety and more opportunities for presenters.

Go to the daily continental breakfasts and the lunch provided on the second day and seek out those presenters that you liked. It’s a great opportunity to ask more questions and network. The middle day of the conference is when they usually schedule the Networking Dinners — there are sign up sheets at conference registration. People seem to sign up based on where they want to eat (the restaurants are specified) so you end up with a eclectic group of people with a variety of interests and experience, based on their preference for sushi or southern fried chicken.

Important vendors are usually there at the sessions (and not the sales reps who don’t know anything, either). Andrew Nagy of Summon was there, the CIO of Ebsco was there, and OCLC usually has a strong presence with multiple people — Roy Tennant of OCLC for example, and last year it was Andrew Pace.

Twitter is very, very critical at LITA, so if you don’t already have an account, get one just to keep track of what’s going on. It’s a technology conference, so showing up with some hot tech (“a magic social object” in Nina Simon’s terms) will win friends and influence people. Remember, it’s a library IT conference so iPads were already boring — it was Jason Griffey’s mifi that was the focus of envy (especially since there was no free wifi in the conference rooms. Yet another reason to grudgingly admit that the ATT-iPxxxx axis of influence actually works to your advantage much of the time.)

Tips for the Atlanta Downtown Hilton: There is a skyway on the 2nd floor that links the Hilton to the Marriot, where the Starbucks cafe is. Also a nicer and more fully stocked convenience store than in the Hilton. Take the skyway and then go up one floor (it’s easy to get lost in the Marriot). The skyway was the main reason I didn’t set foot out of “hotel space weather” for the duration of the conference. Also, the very good room service green salad with the addition of grilled chicken comes with fried cheese on it, which I found hilarious. Usually if one orders a grilled chicken green salad, one is interested in keeping the calories, fat and cholesterol on the low side.

Ross Singer’s closing keynote on the Linked Data Cloud was also very timely, for a slightly different definition of “cloud”.

ALA Connect  presentation materials

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