The latest tools, the hottest skills, and the most essential competencies for 21st century information professionals were the themes discussed at the fifth annual Library 2.015 Worldwide Virtual Conference, which was sponsored by founding partner San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool).
The free online conference drew many SJSU iSchool faculty members, alumni, and students as presenters and attendees, as well as librarians, technology experts, archivists, and other information professionals from at least 20 different countries. Conference participants gathered online on October 20, 2015, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time to attend more than 50 sessions, keynote addresses, and distinguished speaker presentations, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing libraries in the digital age.
The fifth annual conference on the future of libraries was particularly interactive, since attendees used the chat feature of conference platform Blackboard Collaborate to comment on sessions, filled out post-session electronic surveys, and tweeted their thoughts on the events of the day.
The combined attendance of all sessions totaled more than 3,100 attendees working in public libraries, school libraries, academic libraries, and special libraries, as well as in diverse information and education organizations. Countries represented by speakers and attendees included India, the Philippines, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, China, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Guatemala, Israel, and many others.
Steve Hargadon, conference founder and director of The Learning Revolution Project, opened the conference and introduced Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU iSchool, who gave a keynote address on the transformations that information landscapes have undergone in recent years. She discussed the most important skills needed in an ever-changing information environment in the session that was one of the conference’s most popular, with 247 attendees worldwide.
Tanja Galetti, a school librarian in Hong Kong, started her day at the online conference in Hirsh’s keynote session and noted how the conference supported the most sought-after skills by tweeting, “Sandy Hirsh speaks about importance of global networking through social media, international librarian networks & organizations.”
The importance of social media networking emerged as a common thread throughout the conference, and was demonstrated in the use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms by conference attendees and presenters. More than 230 different Twitter users from all over the world posted nearly 1,000 tweets about the conference, and included such sentiments as, “Tempted to stay up all night for #lib2015 starting 12:45am Sydney Aus time, Or maybe watch the recordings tmrw, ” which was tweeted by librarian Hannah Shelley from Australia.
The incredible value of the conference recordings was also a feeling echoed by many attendees, including a survey respondent from Portland, Oregon who commented, “There are so many great sessions--I'm very glad it's all recorded since it's impossible to attend them all live.” All sessions, presentations, and keynote addresses were recorded for later viewing and are organized by theme and available to all on the SJSU iSchool website.
Dr. Michael Stephens, assistant professor at the SJSU iSchool, presented one of the two distinguished speaker sessions, and also talked about the connections and networking that information professionals can make and use to be “full-stack librarians” who are “always on and always connected.” Maureen Cropper, an electronic resources librarian from Lexington, Kentucky, especially appreciated Stephens’ very popular presentation, commenting that it was a “thoughtful session about how to successfully approach change at libraries using creativity, curiosity, and connectedness.”
Dr. Norman Jacknis, president of the New York Metropolitan Library Council, gave a keynote address on re-envisioning the future of libraries that was also extremely popular, with nearly 200 attendees from five different continents. Jacknis inspired attendees with his discussion of how instead of reacting to the challenges facing libraries today, forward-thinking information professionals can “seize the opportunities [trends] open up and provide leadership to define the future of libraries and society in a knowledge-based economy.” Attendees found the presentation “tremendously insightful,” and “fascinating,” and many commented in the chat that they were “blown away by all the examples” of innovation in today’s libraries.
Toby Greenwalt closed the international conference with a keynote address that discussed building community partnerships at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) and how technology and storytelling can be used to show the impact of the library and its programs. In response to the way CLP has embraced the myriad tools available to library innovators in the 21st century, educator Peggy George, an attendee at the session, commented, “This is so impressive! So much more than being a place where people come to read/learn but to create their own learning through collaboration with others.”
Conference attendees appreciated the convenience of the online format, since, as one survey respondent noted, “Great to be able to attend a conference without leaving home/work. Sometimes it is easier (and costs less) to find an hour or two than a couple of days.” Attendees also appreciated the free opportunity for valuable professional development. Jessica Wismar, a library media specialist in Bethel, Connecticut, tweeted, “Participating in Library 2.015 session: Teaching ICT Literacy Skills
#lib2015 Such an important skill set! #professionallearning.”
D’Arcy Hutchings, an instructional design librarian in Anchorage, Alaska, was one of the most prolific Twitter users at the conference, live-tweeting 46 comments on the many sessions she attended over the course of the day. Hutchings summarized the dominant theme of the day, tweeting, “Libraries can't just wait and see how things go, we need to lead, to be at the cutting edge,” and noted how important 21st century skills and competencies are since “[e]merging technologies will ultimately impact every aspect of our lives and culture.”
More information about the conference, speakers, and recordings is available on the SJSU iSchool website and the Library 2.0 website. An archive of recordings from all four previous annual conferences, as well as the Library 2.015 Spring Summit, is also available on both websites. The keynote addresses by Hirsh, Greenwalt, and Jacknis can also be viewed on the Library 2.0 YouTube channel. In addition, a SJSU iSchool graduate student has summarized the three keynote presentations and shared her thoughts about the Library 2.015 Worldwide Virtual Conference on the iStudent blog.