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Thoughts on the Handheld Librarian Conference

After every (good) conference I attend I feel energized with new ideas and interesting perspectives on library practices. I have pages of notes, folders filled with handouts, and if I’m lucky, a couple new contacts on Facebook. Then everything gets placed in a folder (neatly labelled, of course) and despite my best efforts to use this new information, I inevitably get distracted by day-to-day tasks. Any new ideas or projects I’d like to pursue get placed on the back-burner, where, if I’m lucky, I might return to them in a few months.

I’m determined to break this cycle of excitement-distraction-oblivion. I’m in a new job, and, I think, a new, more positive mindset about librarianship. After every conference I’ll try to write a little about something interesting I learned or maybe even something I couldn’t quite understand. Hopefully this will keep me from shelving new ideas that really need to be at the forefront of my professional work.

HHL Conference

Last week I attended the all-online Handheld Librarian Conference. For anyone who has not attended this virtual conference, I highly recommend it! It’s specific to the use of mobile technologies in libraries, but it’s not just for programmers and systems folks. It’s great for reference, instruction and collection development librarians, archivists, school media specialists, and public librarians too.

One of the more interesting sessions was on “Evaluating Mobile Options for Your Library,” specifically mobile websites and apps. I thought I knew a decent amount about mobile sites, but I quickly learned that there were lots of different options available to libraries interested in developing a mobile presence. A mobile website is a flexible, cross-platform option for libraries with only a coder or two on-hand, and there are even companies like Winksite that will create and host a mobile site for you. Then there are webapps, that will allow you to have a more interactive relationship with mobile users, as well as proprietary apps for certain devices (like the iPhone or Android devices). I think for a library like mine a proprietary app might be overkill (and beyond our skill and budget), but a webapp or just a plain ol’ mobile site might be the way to go.

Other sessions of note: Using QR codes in library instruction & marketing, using mobile devices for reference services, and a keynote address from Mashable’s Christina Warren.

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