New Connections Made, New Ideas Born: Information Professionals Revel in the Library 2.014 Worldwide Virtual Conference


Technology, collaboration, and the evolution of the information profession were common themes of the Library 2.014 Worldwide Virtual Conference, the fourth annual free online conference co-founded by the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information. Held entirely online on October 8-9, 2014, the conference connected thousands of information professionals from around the world, who reveled in the inspiring sessions and prolific knowledge shared.

Setting the tone for the conference, Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU School of Information and co-chair of the Library 2.014 conference, gave a motivating keynote address with a slide presentation on the topic of the global work environment of today’s information professional. Her session resonated with the conference’s international audience. “At the beginning of my presentation, we conducted a poll that asked the attendees where they were from,” explained Hirsh. “It was exciting to see the dots pop up all over the world map.”

Steve Hargadon, founder of the Learning Revolution and the Library 2.0 network, and co-chair of the Library 2.014 conference, stated that the schedule of the conference was changed this year to increase the “worldwide” nature of the presentations. Hargadon did the coding of the time zone calendar and constructed the conference site to allow presenters to self-schedule. He also changed the timing of the sessions, so that instead of going “around-the-clock,” as they had in the past, sessions took place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. This change was made to increase attendance at sessions given by presenters outside the U.S., thereby improving the experience of international speakers and attendees.

The Library 2.0 network now has more than 20,000 members from 174 countries, and this year’s conference boasted keynote speakers from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, South Africa, Mexico, and China. Distinguished speakers, session presenters, and participants joined the online conference from their home countries, including Hungary, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada.

Among the 100 presentations were numerous sessions presented by SJSU School of Information faculty members, students, and alumni, including the keynote address by Hirsh, a distinguished speaker presentation by assistant professor Dr. Michael Stephens, an insightful presentation by alumna Elizabeth Borghi, and a panel presentation by assistant professor Dr. Chris Hagar and two graduate students enrolled in the school’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, April Anderson and Joyce Monsees.

Hagar’s presentation with Anderson and Monsees tapped into the “global” theme of the conference. “Supporting the Humanitarian Effort During Disasters: Opportunities for LIS Students as Digital Volunteers” was the topic of their session, and its goal, according to Hagar, was to “demonstrate the work of students who studied crisis informatics and who now play active roles in digital volunteering.”

Hagar explained that, “historically, volunteers needed to be in a physical space. They needed to be on the ground at the point of the disaster to help.” Technology has changed how people can help out after a disaster, however. “Volunteers do not travel to the site. Instead, they collect and use information through online resources,” said Hagar. “Volunteers situated all over the globe, who could be thousands of miles away from the location of the disaster, gather and aggregate information to provide data that is useful on the ground  to local disaster responders, for example, identifying the location of shelters, medical help, food and water.”

The presentation on crisis informatics was a first for both Anderson and Monsees, neither of whom had presented at a conference for information professionals before. According to Hargadon, “the act of presenting to your peers is one of the more important things you do. It’s a seminal moment, and can literally change your life.”

The Library 2.0 conferences are designed to give as many people as possible the opportunity to present to and learn from their peers. “I felt honored to be asked to participate and share what I’ve learned,” confirmed Anderson. “There were many great topics presented, and I feel that reaching out to the LIS community to spark conversations about what we can do in the field is important.” Monsees agreed. “MLIS graduates can work almost anywhere since credible information is the foundation of basically every field. I loved being able to show how appropriate our skills are for global disaster response,” she said.

Hirsh concurred that the conference presents a unique opportunity for professionals to learn from each other at the conference. “One of the many wonderful things about the Library 2.014 conference is its focus on all-inclusiveness,” she stated.  “Everyone can participate and learn from each other. It provides much needed professional development, and since it’s free and online, everyone can attend.”

The variety of topics covered in the sessions was also a big draw for information professionals, many of whom live-tweeted about sessions they were presenting or attending using the conference hashtag #lib2014. “SO many great sessions #lib2014 Library 2.014 Virtual Conference,” tweeted Polly-Alida Farrington, a librarian from New York. Sharing insight learned during Phil Bradley’s keynote session, Laurel Narizny, a metadata librarian from Oregon, tweeted, “@Philbradley: ‘Google is not a search engine, it’s an advertising company that has chosen to focus on search.’#lib2014.”

For students and information professionals who were unable to attend the conference sessions live during the two-day event, recordings of all the Library 2.014 conference sessions are now available on the Library 2.0 website. The keynote sessions can also be accessed on YouTube, as recently discovered by Joe Bires, a technology coordinator from New Jersey, who shared a session link in his tweet, “Checking out Pam Sandlian-Smith on ‘Creating Experience Libraries’ from #lib2014.”

Hargadon encourages views of the recorded sessions, including conference archives in order to increase learning opportunities. “There are recordings of presentations from the Library 2.011, Library 2.012, and Library 2.013 conferences, plus the Library 2.014 conference,” said Hargadon.  “If you discover something that’s of interest to you, and it’s a topic we’ve covered during the conferences, you can go back and learn more about it.” Hargadon expects to keep the conference session archives available online for free indefinitely.

Related Content:

  • Read a post by Dr. Chris Hagar about her Library 2.014 conference presentation on the CIRI blog