Taking Useful Notes at a Conference

notebooksI just came back from Computers in Libraries 2014 … with three pages of notes. I heard some useful stuff this year!

I also changed how I’m taking notes, in hopes of making them more useful. In the past, I have been known to furiously type everything I hear, plus some ideas I get during the presentation, and post those notes as a blog post.

This year, I just wrote down the stuff I found interesting, and any ideas I got while listening (well, I actually typed them in the IA Writer iPad app, but you get the idea).

Many of us do this. We take notes while at a conference or during a meeting, and then when we get back home … we don’t really do anything with those notes. Myself included.

So this year, after the conference, I arranged my notes in a more “useful” way by placing all those thoughts and ideas into loose categories, like this:

David’s Categories for Post-Conference Bliss:

  • Blog this
  • Read this
  • Think more about this
  • Do this
  • Share with someone

Get the idea? Each category is really an action, which get turned into action items on my to-do list when I get back home. For example:

  • Blog this – This blog post is an example of that. It’s an idea I had when looking at my notes. Done :-)
  • Read this – Someone mentioned a white paper by Brian Matthews, Think like a Startup. So I downloaded it and read it. Good stuff! Done :-)
  • Think more about this – During one of Nate Hill‘s talks, he mentioned inviting a local Linux user’s group to meet at the library and help redefine the space. I need to think more about what groups are out there in Topeka, and about being more pro-active with inviting them to do work at the library.
  • Do this – I heard Michael Casey, Christopher Baker, and David Smith talk about their Google Apps project (had dinner with them, too – fun time!). My “do this” bullet point says to set up a meeting to discuss our Exchange server options (we’re due for an upgrade this year).
  • Share this with someone – I have a “talk to my boss” item about the concept of a “startup mentality” for organizations and projects, to see if it’s 1. a good idea, 2. where our bottlenecks are, and 3. if there’s something we can do about it.

A local non-profit board that I’m on recently rearranged their meeting minutes this way, and it really works for us (I can thank my wife for having that great idea, too). For the board meeting, our categories include: Information, Decisions, Open issues, and Action Items. That simple tweak has helped us be more organized. Hopefully it will work better for me personally, too!

So – what do YOU do with all those notes, thoughts, ideas, etc when you get back from the conference? Any good ideas? Please share!

image by Dvortygirl

My Slides from Computers in Libraries 2014

Here’s what I talked about while at Computers in Libraries last week (really useful conference for me this year, by the way. Lots of great ideas!).

3-hour pre-conference session on Technology Trends for 2014:

Website Redesign:

Digital Hangouts (basics of using social media for organizations):

Enjoy!

Technology Trends in Libraries & the Emerging Generation

I gave this presentation last week at the Michigan Library Association Spring Institute. Fun times!

It’s a different presentation for me – talking about technology trends for teens and kids. Thankfully, I have three teenage kids of my own, so it really wasn’t too big of a stretch.

Anyway – here’s the presentation – I created one with slightly more info on the slides. Enjoy!

Speak at Internet Librarian 2014!

Have you ever attended Internet Librarian? It’s a great library-technology-focused conference put on by Information Today.

Information Today does a great job at getting information professionals of all types relevant, useful, and most importantly – current information. They do this through conferences like Internet Librarian and Computers in Libraries, and by publishing books on those topics (and yes, they have published both my books. Definitely NOT the reason these conferences rock, but still … ).

My assignment to you, if you can attend: don’t just attend – submit a speaker proposal, too! That’s how I got started speaking – my first national presentation was at Internet Librarian 1997 (on websites, of all things).

So – go submit a speaking proposal. Right now. Then don’t totally freak out if you get picked to speak :-) And hey – I’m on the Organizing and Review committee this year. Really looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Airplane tickets, broken lamps, and Crazy Glue: David’s Travel Tips

on a planeI’ve been doing a lot of traveling the past 7-8 years, mainly for speaking and consulting engagements. And I have picked up some travel tips along the way, including:

1. The airline doesn’t always provide a room for the night if your flight is delayed, even if they promise they will.

2. Some airports are more comfortable to sleep in than others. (see #1)

3. If you return your rental car in great condition, but then the rental car company wants to charge you for a bunch of damage, your insurance agent can help (apparently one of the airport rental car employees banged up the car after I returned it, and tried to blame it on me. Didn’t work).

4. If you travel internationally, bring along some familiar cold and flue meds. Just in case. (Hat tip to Sarah Houghton for this one).

I have two more things to add to my list of interesting travel tips that I picked up on my trip to Monterey for Internet librarian 2013 (great conference, by the way – I picked up a bunch of useful stuff this year! If you’ve never been, you should think about attending).

What did I learn?

5. You have to communicate with the airline if you miss your flight, or they will automatically cancel your whole round trip ticket.

I booked my Kansas City to Monterey flight pretty early. Then my travel plans changed, and I needed to go to Chicago for a meeting first, and then travel to Monterey from there. And to complicate things further, my family drove me up to Chicago (to see my oldest daughter).

Instead of flying out of Kansas City, I needed to fly out of Chicago … but I already had a round trip ticket from Kansas City to Monterey and back. And of course simply canceling my first ticket included a $200 dollar cancellation fee. Yikes!

So, instead of paying a cancellation fee, I booked a second one-way flight for about $170, and just ignored my first flight, figuring that I’d be a no-show, and everything would be fine for my return trip home, since it was already booked, and I hadn’t canceled anything. $30 bucks saved, right?

Wrong.

On Wednesday night (last night of Internet Librarian), I tried to check-in to my return flight. I opened up my United iPhone app, tried to check in, and received a “this trip is canceled” message. Huh? So I logged into my Expedia account, and found the same thing. Canceled.

Uh oh.

Then I called Expedia’s customer service (after hunting for their phone number – not easy to find), and explained my situation to them. They helped me book a one-way ticket back to Kansas City (my home airport).

Who knew? When I’m traveling and a flight gets delayed, I get all sorts of warnings and reminders on my iPhone. Texts and emails from Expedia and the airline, and alerts from TripIt Pro (an iPhone travel app I use), all warning me of impending doom and plane delays. United even calls me with one of those silly automated “you’ve been delayed” recordings. Multiple times.

But when you don’t show up for your flight? No calls. No texts. No emails. They “helpfully” decide to cancel everything and take all your money anyway.

Lesson learned (three plane tickets later): if your travel plans change, call the airline so they don’t cancel your return flight.

6. When you accidentally break a lamp in a hotel room, the hotel replaces it and they don’t charge you.

This was a first for me. I knocked a lamp off the table in my hotel room. The lightbulb shattered, and the fish tail statue on the fancy lamp broke in two.

Well, that’s embarrassing.

It’s especially embarrassing if, say, you sheepishly decide to prop up the broken fish tail statue on the lamp so that it looks “normal,” and hope the cleaning staff won’t notice.

It’s even more embarrassing if you decide to visit Walgreens to buy some Crazy Glue to “fix” the lamp, then get back to your room and discover that the hotel has already replaced it. Thankfully, the hotel didn’t charge me for that (’cause, you know, I’m gonna need that extra money to pay for those three plane tickets).

Lesson learned: when you break a lamp, the hotel finds out anyway and replaces it. No questions asked, no extra charges given. At least at the Monterey Marriott. Your mileage may vary. Probably a good thing to just report it to the front desk.

Do you have any weird or useful travel tips you’ve picked up along the way? Share them in the comments!