Internet Librarian International 2012 – day 2

The second day of ILI2012 started with a keynote given by the new CEO of British Library, Roly Keating. Keating started his keynote by talking about his CV and work at the BBC (mostly). He went on talking about how a collaboration between the BBC and the British Library is valuable, and how researchers and the general audience can benefit from the collaboration with the digitalisation of old BBC material, made public via BL.

Keating was also talking about new forms of collaboration, mentioning crowd-sourced geo-referencing of maps as an example. There are new types of collections, said Keating, like personal digital archives (eg. an actor`s personal e-mail archives). How do we curate these for the future?

.. and that was all I was able to get from this keynote. I hope that I am not too mean if I say that this keynote held nothing new for me. It was not even inspirational. I felt that Keating said nothing that I could not have found by searching the British Library`s website. I am sorry to say it, but there it is. I expect more from a keynote at ILI.



My first session of the day was C201: New roles. Ulla de Stricker asked the question “What will LIS students be doing in 25 years?”. “What about our future?”, de Stricker asked and continued “It all depends on how we are perceived by the society”. What does society think of us? A doctor never has to explain to people what it is that s/he does. Why doesn`t people know what librarians do?

We have a problem because we go in the “nice to have” and not in the “must have” category.

There is a mismatch between the LIS education and the reality that most students meet when they land a job in the “real world”, said de Stricker. This must be rectified.

There is no lack of professional engagement and dedication, but we have had an “inward” focus, said de Stricker. We have not been good enough at building intra-professional relationships and networks. We must be better at setting the agenda, concluded de Stricker.

I found myself nodding in agreement with de Stricker here. The problem though, is that we don`t know HOW to do this. I missed some good practice advice and some good examples here.

The next speaker in this session was Jeanine Decker from the Airport library at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. She was talking about making the library available for a larger audiece. The library started having a library service at the beach and later on they started the Airport library at Schiphol. The Airport library had 300 000 visitors last year. People can come and read, and the library lends out iPads with movies on them, newspapers etc. People are very happy with it. Watch this video about the library. Looks cool! I want one in Oslo, too!


My next session was C202: new skills, new learning. Ann Östman and Hanna Kranz from Gävleborg County library was taking about their DigiLab project (see their slides). Librarians need better technical skills, and they need hands-on training in new technology, how to follow trends and social media. That was the reason why these librarians wanted to start a lab for technical support.

50 percent of Swedish 3 yr olds are online every day. When they grow up they need guides that can help them with evaluating sources etc. We need to focus on our roles as educators here.

Östman and Kranz also talked about collaborations with the local cinema. Sweden is focussing on digitalisation of cinemas and librarians are working with them to gain competence on image usage etc. Interesting!

Alison McNab continued with her talk on informal learning (always a pleasure to listen to McNab!). She was asking “How do we deal with informal learning?” Many institutions can now only afford to send one delegate to a conference. How do we teach our collegues what we have learned on conferences? How do we make the most of what we have learned?

McNab talked about Unconferences and how many have started using these methods now, like Teachmeets. The staff members are given five minutes to share ideas on good practice. In-conferences (where we use our own competence) are also more common now.

McNab also mentioned “Analog Twitter” where you can give out strips of paper that people can write on, and they can fasten it to a timeline and digitalize the timeline later. It`s fun and you get people who do not normally use Twitter to participate.

Holly Hibner`s title was “Thingamabobs and doodads”. She was talking about how librarians are technology users, and can often use it well, but that we are not computer engineers. Sometimes it is hard to see the difference between a reference question and a tech support question, said Hibner, but tech support questions are also reference questions and they should be treated thus.

Many librarians use the excuse that they do not have the time to learn something new (tech), but there are plenty of ways to pick up new things; webinars, online self-pace cources etc. It is a question of prioritising, too, and we need to invest time in learning.

There is a big difference between giving our users enough information to make an informed choice and to give them advise, said Hibner. We do not give people advice about turning off their firewall or diagnose their illnesses.

The IT department (and others) do not know what our users ask us. They should spend a day at our reference desk to form a better understanding of what we do/ can do.



This session`s title was: C203: Everyone is learning. I`m sorry that I didn`t take better notes during the first speakers (I was a little preoccupied on preparing my own talk..), but Anthea Sutton and Anna Jane Cantrell from University of Sheffield was talking about using blogs, twitter and wikis to deliver e-learning. I`ll have a further look at their slides later (when I find them..).

Rochelle Mazar`s title was “How we stopped giving instructors what we know they need and how that changed everything” (=interesting!) She said that they had stopped giving traditional lectures. They invested in a room with movable furniture (I got a flashback to a talk I listened to in LILAC this spring. This is in now, I guess..). The librarians hand out a “survival guide” and let people get started right away. The librarians walk around as guides.

Mazar also gave us a tip. She said that while she didn`t particularly like something as low-tech as e-mail as a marketing tool, it works with staff members! The library sends out short e-mails with one tip every time (usually there is a link to a website in the e-mail) at certain times of the year (when the librarians know there will be lots of questions about the particular subject). They have never been accused of spamming, said Mazar, and staff members seem to like getting them.



This session was called C204: Backchanneling (I never understood the title, but..), and I was giving my talk on “Using Google Forms to engage your students in the lecture“. I spoke about using Google forms as an audience-response system, and I gave the delegates the chance to participate in a live test. They were given a form with a few questions and asked to answer them, and the rest of us watched as the results came in. I also talked about using web-based polling as opposed to clickers, how audience response systems can help you keep the students` attention, and how you can store and use your data later. I didn`t have time to start recording, so I have no audio/video file to post here unfortunately.

After me, Kay Grieves and Michelle Halpin from the University of Sunderland talked about nurturing conversations between users and librarians using conversational tools (social media).

Unfortunately, we had too little time to get any real questions at the end, which was a shame because that was really interesting last year.

And that was it for this years ILI..

General notes:

I learned a few things and spoke to a lot of interesting people, so I had a good conference experience, but I think this was my last ILI. There are just too many other conferences to go to. What I missed the most this year was a more practical approach to problems. We all agree (most of us, anyway) that there are challenges ahead, and most of us even agree on what these challenges are, but there are few answers to any of the problems. I missed the “freshness” of the LILAC conference I attended this spring. Then again, maybe it`s just that it was my fifth ILI.. I don`t know.


  • Great people with lots of different skills
  • Good wifi (thank you Kensington Olympia!)
  • Good keynote by David Lankes
  • Phil`s latest discoveries (and several other sessions, too)


  • More “hands-on” tips and good practice stories (practical approaches are always appealing)
  • Sitting down for lunch (trying to balance your plate, glass while eating and talking= not easy)
  • Better food:)

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