My First Supersized Library Conference

I volunteered at the OLA Superconference on Thursday to see what the library landscape looked like, in particular, what people working in the field cared about these days. Although I could only make it for half a day, it seemed like the future of libraries is still resting on the development of new technologies. Meaning, we may be seeing less Marians and Giles, and more Librarians 2.0 — virtual, mobile, anonymous yet omnipresent info experts. Luckily I didn’t see any indications that we’re going to be replaced by Apple iPads. But there’s always next year.

We were in the midst of a crazy winter snowstorm. Bad weather won’t stop librarians from superconferencing, though. That, and collecting swag. I picked up some buttons.

The event was so massive that it had to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the course of three days. There was everything from poster sessions to award galas, career counselling to a Super Expo. Darth Vader was wandering the expo floor because, well, a convention is not a convention without someone decked out in full costume.

I met some cool students from other library schools including Western, Seneca and Mohawk College. One of them told me that her class was here on an assignment. Aside from the regular scheduled programming, I gained a few random insights from chatting with other attendees:

  • Some librarians are still bitter about U of T’s’ decision to implement the $200 fee on outsiders who wished to borrow from its collection. The little libraries were hit hard and left out in the cold on this situation.
  • At one session, all the women in the audience left after discovering that the session topic was aimed at techies. The gender divide is still in full effect.
  • A good librarian has a blog, LinkedIn profile, reviews books on Shelfari or LibraryThing, and knows how to distract patrons if they asked a difficult reference question.
  • Just because someone is an all-conference plenary guest speaker, doesn’t mean librarians know who he/she is.

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