one big library unconference

On Friday July 27 2008, I attended York University Library‘s One Big Library Unconference.

90 participants were registered and invited to propose a session that they would also lead. Proposals were arranged on tables and voted upon the morning of the unconference. The schedule was made by unconference organizers based on participant votes. The following is a brief summary of the sessions I attended:

I use Zotero already. Here is everything you need to know about it. I use it because it is a Firefox add-on that is ever-present on my browser. I can easily collect articles, websites, and store .pdfs as collections in my Zotero library. It is hoped that the next development for Zotero will be to provide remote access by becoming web-based. Also development on social aspects would enhance user reference sharing.

Drupal is an open source web content management system. It is modular so as the user develops, they download modules to activate things. The Onion and the LSW’s (Library Society of the World)’s VERY new website are examples of Drupal.

Evergreen is an open source OPAC that is also built in modules. Here is a demo. A feature that I found interesting was that Evergreen has the capacity to pass messages using an instant message vehicle similar to google talk. An interface that allows for message passing opens up many possibilities for funcionality user relationships. As a functioning OPAC, there are several features which are currently lacking such as the organization of acquisitions, serials, recalls, and reserves. I’m sure it won’t be long though…

This was my favourite session as it addressed many thoughts I have been having regarding the access to information and finding ways to balance controlled vocabulary with natural language and social tagging. Our information society has changed our interaction with information by moving from a transaction to a relationship. We find something, tag it, pass it on, blog about it, and related it to other materials. I feel it’s our responsibility to capture user-generated content and organize it.

A major point I feel passionate about is the idea that we can’t dismiss users who tag with emotional tags such as “boring”, “sucks”, and “cool” because emotional tagging adds another dimension: the review! We need to find a way to balance social tagging and controlled vocabulary so that info has exhaustive points of access. It’s obvious, yes?

The Unconference was a huge success. I met my brilliant Twitter friends and I met brilliant librarians and technologists. Lastly, the inspiration and innovation is resonating with me as I plan my move to TO and my career in the community of Toronto librarians.

I hope we’ll do it again next year!


4 thoughts on “one big library unconference

  1. jandawson says:

    Same to you, John! Yes, I’m moving to T.O. to make a go of it. I’m looking for librarian work there. Keep your ears open for me? 😉

  2. Dennis says:

    I agree with you. Zotero is nice, but too bad it doesn’t support remote access and sharing. If you want to that feature, you can try WizFolio ( Interface is quite nice, not like Refworks. I m quite surprised that they allow you to drag and drop as well as right click. The coolest feature is perhaps their bookmarklet which allows you to grab data directly from webpages. Or you can try Zotero beta version which allows synching but I just couldn’t get it work.

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