Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tech Camp UnConference

I. Love. UnConferences. I helped organize the Tech Camp UnConference, which took place on Friday, May 15 at the MSU Main Library. I was a panelist at last year's Newbie UnConference, which was where I was introduced to the concept of an UnConference. A topic was chosen for the day (technology this time) and the participants decided on what break-out sessions they wanted to have. There were also lightning rounds where anyone interested got five minutes to share something cool they know about technology. The three panelists in the afternoon were great too!

Some of the best things I picked up at the Tech Camp UnConference were:

First Break-Out Session: Tech Support IS Reference
1. It's not that librarians don't have the knowledge/skill, or sometimes even the resources. It's that they are either a) not allowed to touch patrons' personal equipment due to library policy or b) they just don't have time, and tech questions can suck a librarian in for a LONG time (ie. "Can you help me set up my new laptop?")

2. Figuring out if a question is truly a tech support question vs. a reference question can be tricky. Maybe the question was "How do I upload my resume" but turns into "Where are some good places to upload my resume?"

Lightning Rounds
1. Ann Arbor District Library - Eli Neiburger shared some highlights of AADL's web site, which is nothing short of AWESOME! I will for sure start following their developer blog.

2. Lawrence Tech University Library is doing some cool things with Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Delicious, and YouTube. is my library, but we obviously aren't marketing them correctly. We want our patrons to communicate with us and enjoy the library virtually, but we haven't properly connected them to each other and made them visible to our users. LTU puts these 2.0 logos on the front page of their library web site. Duh! Great idea!

3. MEL took the horrible Michigan Works Service Center locator and created a list by counties of service centers. Much easier! They've really updated the business/careers section of MEL to help job seekers. I need to post a story on my library's home page pointing users to this resource.

4. Twitterfeed will post library tweets to our Facebook, web site, etc. all at once. And here I've been posting information in various places manually.

Second Break-Out Session: Public Instruction
1. Keep it extremely simple for beginning computer users.

2. Use analogies to things students can identify with (especially older students). If they learned to type on a typewriter, reassure them that all the keys are still in the same place; there are just a few extra keys to learn. They know what a traditional "desk top" included, so talk about how icons on the desktop screen relate to that. Creating folders: relate to a real filing cabinet.

3. Who teaches technology programs at libraries? Some libraries have found unwilling staff, but volunteers as instructors can be good OR bad. Librarians would benefit from some teacher training.

Read more about this UnConference on Twitter at #techuncamp


  1. I'm very sorry I had to miss this, I've heard nothing but good things from my coworkers who went. Do you know where I can find a list of the panelists that spoke? I remember seeing it at some point, but it doesn't seem to be on the wiki. (Or am I just missing it?) Are more conference notes going to be posted somewhere?

  2. That's funny - I was looking for the list of panelists too. I wanted to know how to spell their names correctly before I blogged about them. I believe it was: Dan Kline, Julielynn Gibbons, and Cliff Lampe. We're hoping people will put more notes up on the wiki at

  3. It's Dan Klyn:

    Holly - Can you add links for the presentation that you did?

    Andrew Mutch

  4. Thanks for writing about the Michigan eLibrary in your blog as reported by Kyle Ripley at the TechUnconference, Holly! We depend on our library partners to share the great resources with their own patrons/customers/clientele/users!?

    Deb Biggs Thomas
    MeL Coordinator