Posted by: Memo | April 12, 2009


I team presented two sessions for the Southwest Idaho Library Association conference (SWILA), region 3, at the College of Idaho, in Caldwell, ID. One as member of SPLAT (Special Projects Library Action Team) on screencasting, and the other as member of the Boise State library posse on RSS use (see below). Both sessions focused on cool online tools libraries can use to empower library services, or just to enhance your own personal online experience.

The conference takes place during CofI‘s Spring Break so we had the whole campus to ourselves. The campus is idyllic to be sure, and has the brick, trees, and classical architecture you can expect from a school that was founded in 1891. We even had a tour of the Terteling Library (totally awesome facade) and the archives collection in Sterry Hall.

This one-day conference is full of good stuff for everyone. While the majority of attendees were from public libraries, the presentations had enough diversity of content to intrigue and make it relevant to all. The food was delicious, the breakfast spread was stupendous, and coffee overflowed everyone’s system. Truly, it was fun times all around.

One gripe I did have was with the ubiquitous, fickle, angry tech gnome, cousin of Murphy’s law and bunk mate of unforgiving plugins. While the building that houses this one-day conference is great, its limited hardware and closed wi-fi system did put a dent in a couple of presentations, not to mention putting the kibosh on any blogging or twittering (unless you had an iPhone like my friend Liesl. Yes, there were two computer labs available but, if you are attending a day-long conference, your time is limited. Besides, the bigger computer lab had sessions throughout the day so it was rendered useless. Luckily we had library folk in attendance so these minor aggravations were taken in stride and we all had a laugh about it; they know that, as cool as the online tools we were there to showcase, they are only as good as the machines you use them on.

So, lessons learned (besides conference fodder) to equip one’s self against the gnome:

  • If you can, bring your own computer/projector unless you know the equipment you’ll be using has the applications you need.
  • If you do bring in your own hardware, have all the necessary accouterments (cables, USBs, connectors, male/female parts, etc.).
  • In lieu of flash, do a flash dance.
  • No internet access?! Good thing I only have screen shots. What? Can’t get the projector going?
  • If you want to play a movie, have it in several versions. RealPlayer only? Really?
  • Never assume your PowerPoint will be shown on a big screen. Tiny whiteboards can render your text ineligible.

But these are, in a way, almost expected and you really can’t account for everything. I look forward to next year’s conference, which I’m assuming will have these kinks worked out. If not, I’ll refer to the above list.

You can get find most of the SWILA presentations at the growing SWILA conference wiki.



  1. Sometimes no matter how much preparation you do the world can still throw you off. You can’t prepare for everything – just for all the predictable things!

    I’m starting to believe that powerpoints should only have images on them and no text at all. But then, I think I’m getting an acquired ADD. Old age ADD or something.

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