Now that I am fully recovered from spending the afternoon trapped in the Monterey Peninsula Airport, forced to watch the same sensationalized news stories repeated every 15 minutes at maximum volume, I found some time to reflect on my experience at Internet Librarian. I think what I like best about this conference is that it seems to be a meeting ground for a cross-section of progressive librarians who share a similar sense of whimsy, a knack for creativity and a willingness to play – particularly when it comes to information discovery.
I attended two sessions this week that captured this spirit of discovery through play – Erica Reynolds‘s presentation on library website redesign, Lessons from 4000 years of art and Jenny Levine‘s talk on Games, Learning & Libraries.
Inspired by a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO, Erica saw how the way we experience art in a museum can inform the way we present information on the web. Having recently led the complete revamping of the Johnson County Public Library site (which is definitely worth a peek), Erica drew parallels from her experience at the museum and came up with twelve lessons for guiding designs that are both “prestigious and playful” (Lesson #12). The library’s new website features a collection of striking photos taken by teens in the community, a need a story? search box and a tab labeled “surprise!” Some of the other lessons that stand out are:
Lesson 2: Be bold. Be dynamic. Be human
Lesson 3: When you paint to sell, you paint people
Lesson 4: Enliven your collection through reorganization and presentation
Lesson 8: We like surprises. And anticipating the surprise is even more delicious.
Lesson 9: A good guide enhances the experience exponentially
In a similar vein, Jenny’s presentation on gaming in libraries challenged the audience to think about where we draw the line between learning and play – and if this distinction really matters. Games like Dance Dance Revolution and World of Warcraft teach pattern recognition, build literacy and strategy skills, and are a great teaser for bringing more young patrons through the doors to interact with each other. When thinking about offering gaming services in the library Jenny suggests considering the value that games can bring. By presenting information in a fun and appealing way and fostering social connections among patrons and staff, games can improve how people see the library – as a place that entices you to come in and discover something new. And you might even have fun doing it.
Oh Internet Librarian, you are the best! Actually the people that are here and the things they are doing and talking about are the best (and let’s face it, Monterey doesn’t hurt either). For the majority of folks reading this though, Monterey is a long way off. Happily we’re trying to share the experience of being here this year as best we can. Along those lines, some pretty spiffy photos have started to show up already (check the WebJunction flickr photo stream or do search on flickr for the tag IL2007 to see more). Here are a couple WJ related shots that might be fun to take a peek at:
Last night Jenny Levine, Aaron Schmidt, and myself (Michael Porter) co-hosted an open gaming event/flickr and/or twitter meet-up, which was a total blast. It felt great to be able to say: “this even brought to you in partnership with ALA, WebJunction and ITI“. Collaboration abounds! As does some gaming night competition. Here are the two Guitar Hero competition winners David Free and Michael Sauers proudly standing in the project’s glare with their fabulous prizes:
*Just a side note, this event was held right after Jenny and Aaron’s “Gaming in Libraries” pre-conference which was SO worth the time and money. Gamer and non-gamer librarian alike are encouraged to seek out this type of content and these two speakers in particular to understand the importance and value of gaming in Libraryland. The connections are surprising and VERY real. Thanks Jenny and Aaron for your excellent work!*
While those are fine shots, in my mind there is already stiff competition for fave IL2007 photo between these to pics:
What’s your vote?
For now, it’s back to the conference sessions and the wonderful people here at this years’ Internet Librarian conference. I’ll look for you here or online!