Monday, March 28, 2011

Computers in Libraries 2011

Last week, I attended & presented at Computers in Libraries 2011 here in Washington, DC.

Keynote Speakers
On the first day of the conference, the first keynote speaker – James Crawford - was delayed arriving, so a few CIL “veterans” joined in an Impromptu panel on e-books.  James did give his talk at lunchtime later that day.

I enjoyed Michelle’s talk on the second day.  She gave a nice shout-out to NPR Social Media within her talk.  Lee Rainie is always a source of good stats and information about what the trends are “on the ground”.

James Crawford – Engineering Director – Google Books
            Archived talk – part 1
            Archived talk – part 2

Michelle Manafy – Director of Content – Free Pint and author of Dancing with Digital Natives
            Archived talk

Lee Rainie – Director – Pew Internet & American Life Project
            Archived talk

Website Design & Usability

Since the new Digital Archive project I'm on at work includes a redesigned search interface, I went to a few presentations that were about dos & don’ts of web design & usability.

How to build a great website - Aaron Schmidt, DCPL, and Amanda Etches-Johnson, University of Guelph  My favorite analogy they used is that a library website is like your spice cabinet – you have lots of choices that are useful, but you don’t remember how they got there in the first place.  Aaron & Amanda pointed out that library websites are not the first place that users go to when starting their library search and that libraries have no control over how their catalog or electronic database interfaces look.  Libraries should focus on what their users want to do on their sites.  Focus on the frequently asked questions and actions. 

They created a template for a library website that utilizes all the best practices they shared.  They challenged us to move library websites from just basic functional pages to become a participatory and community driven space allowing for interacts from the library users and user driven content.

Usability Express: Recipe for Libraries – Bohyun Kim, Florida International University Medical Library, and Marissa Ball, Florida International University Green Library
I initially went to this session because Bohyun is a fellow NMRT colleague and I wanted to support her.  But I ended up learning about different usability test methods and seeing some examples of what not to do on a library website.  Their full presentation is posted here.

Search & Providing Value

I’m always looking for new search techniques or examples of how to present search results in new ways.

Search Engine Update – Greg Notess, Search Engine Showdown
I must admit that I went into this presentation expecting to learn about some new search engines, but was surprised to see that 80% of the presentation was spent on Google and its latest features.  Content farming and social searching seem to be the hottest trends right now.  He did demonstrate Microsoft’s Academic Search which is starting to rival Google Scholar. 

Search: Quick Tips for Adding Value – multiple panelists
I was excited to see what tidbits this panel could provide regarding search and adding value to your results. 

Ran Hock focused on Real-Time Search, which according to him is dead, and Google tips.
Marcy Phelps gave tips on how to present research to executives and other stakeholders.
Tamas Doszkocs talked about the latest news on the semantic web.

The panelist I was most impressed with was Tasha Bergson-Michelson.  She is a Google Education fellow and teaches users how to search.  Her presentation focused on switching the search strategy from searching for the question to searching for the answer.  Instead of entering “How fast can a ford mustang svt cobra accelerate” into a search engine, try “ford mustang svt cobra “0 to 60 in * seconds”.  Entering the second search phrase, brings back the answer within the first couple of hits within the search results.

Another example: I’m looking for that pink book on Rosa Parks.  Within Google Images, search for Rosa Parks.  At the bottom left-hand panel, click on the box representing pink to see the results be limited to pink images.  There are only 3 books within the results and the user can review those quickly.

You can do a range of dates within Google by typing {year}…{year}, which I thought might be helpful for the search requests we get when the user says the speech happened in the 70’s.

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