Last day in the Windy City…

So, today was a slightly more laid-back day. My roommate and I “slept in” until 8am, when housekeeping knocked on the door…which they haven’t done all the other days when we did actually have to get up early…oh well. We had planned to get brunch, but weren’t sure where to go, so we wandered around the loop for a bit in the hopes of finding something that wasn’t a chain (a little difficult in this touristy area). We finally found Ronny’s Original Steakhouse…which sounds odd for brunch, but it was GREAT. For about $7, I got a huge omelette, home fries, ham, and toast – at least enough for 3 people to eat – and it was delicious. After having granola bars and coffee on the run for breakfast the past several days, it was nice to sit down and enjoy the first meal of the day! After breakfast, we did some sightseeing at the Chicago Cultural Center, which is the former public library and is an absolutely gorgeous building, as are many in the city. We also walked around Millennium Park and enjoyed the live bluegrass band playing.

Too soon, we had to leave, and I made my way over to the convention center for my final session of the conference – “Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise?”  And I honestly could not imagine a better one to end on. The panel consisted of Cindi Trainor, David Lee King, Michael Porter, and Meredith Farkas, and the moderator was Roy Tennant. All are well know in the blogosphere, and all are worth following if you don’t already! They discussed what Library 2.0 meant to them (and yes, like most of us, they are sick of that term, too!), what it looks like, the barriers that libraries may face in implementing these tools, how to use them responsibly, and gave examples of what you can do with 2.0 tools. Here are some of the big things that stood out for me:

  • these tools are great, but we have to treat and evaluate them like any other technology that we consider using in our libraries
  • only use what fulfills a need for your users, your staff,  your organization – function over cool factor
  • you can get statistics out to demonstrate effectiveness to a certain extent, but numbers don’t measure emotional engagement
  • don’t be afraid to experiment – the worst you can do is fail and learn from your mistakes (and administrators, let your staff experiment!)
  • these tools aren’t a magic wand, and they don’t mean that we change everything that we have been doing, but we must change and grow to remain relevant with our users, or services like kgb and Netflix are going to have a serious effect on our role

There was certainly much more (and I’d be glad to share my notes with you if you’d like), but the overall tone was that these tools can make our lives easier and help us connect and share and collaborate with others, but they aren’t perfect and we must constantly be assessing and changing to keep them relevant.

Post-session, it was back to the hotel, then off to meet up for some Chicago deep-dish at Giordano’s (the one off the corner of Lake and Michigan, to clarify). Definitely one of the best pizzas I have eaten, and amazingly, we didn’t have to wait! Probably had something to do with being there at 5:30 on a Monday…I highly recommend it. A few of us went down to Navy Pier, saw some of the Tiffany glass exhibit, took some pictures, wandered around for a bit, and ended up at Billy Goat Tavern again. By that time, we were all tired and decided to call it a night. We walked back along the river to our hotel and took in our last night in the Windy City.

It’s been a great conference, and I’m sad to leave, but I also think I’ll need about a week to catch up on my sleep! I met so many amazing people that I look forward to keeping up with and seeing at future conferences (networking, people!). I also learned how to make my next conference experience even better, not to mention what I gleaned from the great programs I attended. A million thanks to ALA, the Student-to-Staff Program, and UNCG for the opportunity!

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