PLA Virtual Conference 2012!

Thanks to my employer, I was able to register for this year’s virtual PLA (Public Library Association) conference!  Being so new to librarianship and not even done with my degree, this is my first conference experience of any kind in the field… and I am so stoked!  The first day was awesome- 5 presentations (not including the author interview with Liz Moore) and some awesome discussion/comments on Twitter #PLA12. It’s so cool to be able to interact and attend virtually; it’s really quite impossible for me to attend any such event outside of a reasonable driving distance right now.  Even the ALA conference in Anaheim, which is very close to where I live, may be too expensive for me to attend.

Anyway… back to the conference!

The first program on “Engaging with teens on a shoestring budget” spurred much thought on creative programming using as many free or low-cost resources as possible and focused on programming centered on engagement and involvement rather than entertainment (example: teen advisory boards vs. band concerts).  The segment on Broward County Library’s WOW (without walls) initiative showed how they engaged teens in the virtual spaces they already inhabit; my only criticism, however, would be that this initiative seemed prohibitively expensive especially considering the “shoestring budget” slant this presentation was supposed to have.  Besides launching branding initiatives and giving away pre-loaded thumb drives, they also created an app that costed $10,000 alone.

The second program, “Social media & your marketing strategy”, was my favorite of the day.  There was a lot of talk on using Pintrest, something I have to admit I haven’t investigated yet.  Lots of good advice on managing your social media services, like having a solid policy and purpose, creating a posting calendar that has all posts on all social media sites organized together, and analyzing user’s interaction with your content via tools such as pagelever and 44 doors.  The thing that most touched me was the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s strategy/mission: “Inspire reading, Share resources, Connect people”.  This truly sums up the purpose for all library servies and initiatives and helps to ground people like me who can get too caught up in novel technologies and metrics analysis.

My favorite part of the Q&A with Nancy Pearl was when she had the guts to profess a dislike of e-reading and the superiority of the physical book, which I whole-heartedly agree with!

The “iPads in the Library” programming showed some neat ways that the Free Library of Philadelphia is using (or wants to use) iPads in teen/children’s programming and in staff use.  It could just be me and the library environments I find myself in, but I think that iPads are too expensive at this point for wide use in the library, especially by young patrons; not only are they very expensive just to purchase, but because of their popularity and mobility, they could be targets for theft.  Also, they are very easy to break :O

Finally, Rolf Hapel’s “Transforming public libraries from institutions of the industrial age to change agents for the networked society” was an interesting look at the public libraries of Denmark.  I’m not sure why, but it was a bit harder to follow than the other presentations of the day.  But it was clear that Denmark is truly striving to lead the way for libraries into the digital future!

What did you think of the programming today? What struck you? Or, if you weren’t able to attend, what do you think of Pintrest and using iPads in the library?

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