Five Things I Experienced at the 2007 Computers in Libraries Conference

As usual, the Computers in Libraries conference was great! I always find the Information Today conferences extremely useful. It’s a great way to keep my finger on the current pulse of library and information specialist emerging tech thought, I always enjoy meeting new people and hanging out with old friends, and I always learn something new, too.

Here’s a list of five things I experienced at this year’s conference – some good, one not so good. I originally had six things – but the sixth one has turned into a separate blog post (stay tuned for that one):

  1. Web 2.0 tools are popular topics! Many of this year’s sessions and tracks focused on some aspect of web 2.0. Years past, the search engine sessions were packed – this year, sessions on web tools and web 2.0 sessions attracted standing room only crowds. This is a hot topic, and it’s not going away any time soon.
  2. Half the value of this conference are the sessions. The other half is the networking that takes place. Sure, the sessions are great – but the dinner conversations, the making friends (translation – professional networking), the bouncing ideas off of other highly intelligent people – that’s also useful! It’s a great way to take something you just learned in a session and have a meaningful discussion about it with others who were just as: A. excited; B. baffled; C. completely “whatever” about it.
  3. Conference hotels. This year’s conference was held in the Crystal City Hyatt. The hotel is beautiful. And much too small for this conference. Some people attending my sessions had to sit on the floor, stand against a wall, hang out in the overflow room (and in Steven Cohen’s case, the overflow room needed an overflow room, too!), or stand in the hallway, and hope to hear everything. Amazing. And there were MANY sessions that were like that. After the sessions, there was the line for the escalators, the line for the food, and the 10-minute wait for the elevators (that seemed to be breaking down). In the evening, there was the cool HD TV that had been set up wrong (so everybody looked short and fat on TV), the lack of close restaurants and shops, the ironing board that broke, the power outlet that didn’t work, and the concierge dude who was anything but helpful… So be prepared – this year’s conference was the biggest CIL ever – and next year, I’m guessing it will be bigger still (and unfortunately stuck in the same hotel for at least one more year).
  4. Twitter rocks. Sure, it might be a fad. Sure, it might end up being a waste of time (I ultimately don’t think so). But with a mostly reliable wifi connection in the conference rooms, there was a constant  undercurrent of short one-liner discussions that were fun, and in some cases, really added to the conference. For those participating, it allowed you to see what others were thinking while the speaker was still talking. And make dinner plans… and pass a bunch of insider jokes… :-)
  5. Many people attending CIL this year were first-timers, which is great! I’d definitely recommend this conference and/or Internet Librarian to others. Both conferences are perfect for techie staff, non-techies wanting to stay current with emerging trends, and for getting a grasp of web 2.0 if you’re just learning (it’s ok – I’m still learning, too!).

Finally, make sure to say hello to people! If you recognize a blogger, a dynamic speaker you’ve heard before, or someone who wrote a fabulous article – make sure to introduce yourself and tell that person about it! It will definitely make his/her day, and hey – you’ll make an instant friend and future contact, to boot.