The 2006 SIRLS Grad Student Symposium

Hottest Ticket in Town Our second annual graduate student symposium was a rousing success. Although attendance was down from last year, we still had a pretty good sized group of people show up, and the folks who came were all interested and enthusiastic about the presentations. Speaking of presentations, the slides will be up on the LSO website soon, when they are, I'll post a link. All of the presentations I attended were great! Even though this was a smaller group this year, I actually think the overall quality of the presentations was a bit better than last year - not that last year's were bad, they weren't - but this year's were really good. Here's a brief recap of the presentations I saw:

Shana Presenting Shana Harrington's presentation, "Are Irish Public Libraries Similar and/or Different than American Public Libraries?" was great. Shana did an internship at a public library in Dublin this past summer and got some first-hand experience in the similarities and differences between public libraries here and there. Really interesting stuff - there are a lot of commonalities, but a few surprising differences. Maybe one of the most surprising is the fact that the public libraries in Dublin rotate their staff through different positions (and different libraries) every 5 years - they have a policy of not wanting people to get too specialized in their jobs.

Jeff Collins' presentation, "Digitization Projects" was also great. Jeff talked about projects like Google Print and Yahoo's Open Content Alliance project. Google Print (I think they're calling it Google Book Search now) has made a lot of news, and I've been following that story sporadically, but I haven't followed news about the Open Content Alliance much at all, so it was great to hear a bit of an overview of what they're up to. I really must spend some time learning about that soon. It was also interesting to hear some of the other worries that people have about such digitization projects beyond copyright issues. Copyright infringement issues make headlines, but issues such as how accurate the scanning is (and how much data might be lost in the scanning process) and how the constantly changing electronic formats are affecting preservation are just as important.

Wendy Begay's presentation, "Digital Divide in Navajoland" was a real eye-opener. Having grown up in the southwest, I thought I was reasonably aware of the Digital Divide issues Native Americans still face, but it was sobering to realize just how big the divide still is. Wendy talked about a program that got funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to provide computers and internet access to a number of Native American tribes in the southwestern US, and how the program worked out for the Navajo Nation. It was fascinating to hear about the issues - both technical and cultural - involved with this program, and since Wendy is Navajo herself, she has a great perspective on this subject.

Oh, and my presentation went well too. This was the first big presentation I've ever done, and I was a little nervous. However, I maintained my outward cool, the technology I was using behaved itself, and everyone I talked to afterward said they learned something. All good things, I think. I actually enjoyed myself quite a lot. I'm going to have to do this sort of thing more often.

Michael Stephens Michael Stephens' keynote, "Library 2.0: Planning, People and Participation" was awesome. It was just the thing to get us all charged up about the profession at a point in the semester when the deadlines are coming up behind us fast and enthusiasm is starting to flag just a bit in the face of end-of-semester homework. It's great to see some of the cool stuff that's happening in libraries now. We've still got a ways to go in convincing everybody that we're about a lot more than just books these days, but I'm looking forward to being involved in the changes that are coming. So, Michael, thanks for making the jaunt down to Tucson to talk to us!

Gentle Bens The post-symposium reception was also great. I got to see some folks I haven't seen in awhile, including Andrea Lemeiux, the past LSO president who was the primary force behind getting the symposium started last year (she's now a public librarian in Los Angeles County). She came for the state library conference and stayed on in AZ a couple of days so she could come to the symposium, too. Very cool. As seems to be the case with professional development activities like this, the after-session get-togethers are usually as interesting and informative as the sessions themselves, and this was no exception. A splendid time was had by all (well, at least by me), and conversation continued on into the evening.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

More photos can be found here:


I expect that most of the Tucson locals reading this already know about the SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium that's happening tomorrow, but I thought I'd give one last invite. The details about the symposium can be found here:, and if you're in town tomorrow, stop by and see us. You don't have to register, and the more the merrier. The symposium gives us grad students a chance to make presentations in a lower-stress atmosphere than a conference might be, and it also gives us a chance to hear about what our fellow student are up to.

This year we've got people talking about: Internships in Ireland, Google Print and Other Digitization Projects, The Digital Divide in Navajo Land, Ethical Dilemmas in Reference, and more. (And wish me luck tomorrow morning: I'm presenting on RSS and I'm a wee bit nervous.) Our keynote speaker is Michael Stephens of Tame the Web, who will be talking about Library 2.0.

There will be a reception at Gentle Ben's on University afterwards.

Last year's inaugural symposium was a rousing success and a really great time, so come by and help make this year's even better!