Posted by: Memo | March 17, 2009

ACRL and the Shed

A fellow librarian and I traveled to Seattle on Saturday, March 14th, to attend/present at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). My presentation was on Sprout, a widget creation tool, and how libraries can use this platform to create dynamic widgets (or as they’re called, “projects” or “sprouts”) to engage faculty and students with library resources.

I really really like how Sprout makes it easy to put together a virtual space, from small widgets to full-featured websites, and populate it with a variety of content: RSS, video, photo galleries, tables, blogs, etc. The availability of such an awesome free product that libraries could use to provide interactive content as an embeddable and fully-featured web gadget was too good to pass up, so I sent a proposal to ACRL as a Cyber Zed Shed (CZS) session, which was accepted. I’m not sure where the CZS term comes from but I’m sure it has to do with the X-files or pirates. Here’s ACRL’s description:

Cyber Zed Shed presentations are 20-minutes in length, with fifteen minutes to present a demonstration, and five additional minutes for audience Q&A.  Presentations should document technology-related innovations in academic and research libraries.

Of course, as with any successful online endeavor, Sprout decided that its user base was large enough, and their product versatile and well received, that it would support a paid platform. This free-to-fee change was resolute: if you wanted to keep your stuff, you had to pay for it. So now my presentation was in danger of being blown out of the water. However, as with any online product with many loyal users, Sprout heard about the sheer dissatisfaction with this move from its loyal base: no fair! Being good players, Sprout now offers a limited number of projects for free (3 at any one time), and my presentation of Sprout as a viable, though limited, widget creator as a library tool went ahead as planned.

If the Twitter chatter was any indication, most of the Cyber Zed Shed (CZS) were well attended and well presented, and I’m hoping that mine was at least as informative as the rest. I even got to meet some great folks that I’ve only known through Twitter. Twitter, and ACRL’s Twitter stream, was my pulse to conference chatter, tweet ups (Twitter meet ‘n greets), favorite sessions, running commentary of various presentations, and the overall zeitgeist of the ACRL experience. Also, check out ACRL’s Flickr pool for a visual experience of the conference in the rainy city.



  1. I am sure you did awesome. Could they come up with a better name for the it, though? I would be kind of embarrassed to put that on my C.V.

    • When I heard the name the first thing I thought of was that it had to an Asimov novel. It’s still going on my C.V. though 😀

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