Recap-PLA Virtual Spring Symposium

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Photo Source: 2013 PLA Virtual Spring Symposium

This week I had the opportunity to ‘participate’ in the Public Library Association (PLA) Virtual Spring Symposium. This was a very interesting experience to sit in rooms with other local public librarians yet connect with and ask questions of presenters along with a nation-wide audience. Conference hashtag #plavss13 in case you’re interested in thoughts thrown into the twitterverse during the conference.

YA Programming (Makerspaces!)

My first session was Hands On! Innovative YA Programming led by Steve Teeri from the Detroit Public Library (DPL). The discussion focused on the DPL HYPE Makerspace which is possibly one of the most innovative library spaces I’ve seen. Let alone one devoted entirely to YA (young adults ages 13-18) patrons. The HYPE Makerspace evolved from semi-regular arts/crafts programming that was later combined with grant money, community partners, and local ‘expert instructors.’ Some of the (weekly!) workshops offered include Bike Tech, Crafternoon, Graphic Design, and Electronics/Robotics. I absolutely loved the idea of having teens become (paid) apprentices or assistants to help the instructors lead the different workshops. I also appreciated the acknowledgement of starting small with introducing any of these initiatives. While the libraries I currently work at are located within pretty affluent communities, in thinking about the costs associated with the HYPE exemplar, there is really no comparison to our YA programming budgets.

Makerspaces vs. Hackerspaces?

I asked a question during the session, as did others, about the difference between Makerspaces & Hackerspaces. After raising a similar question during my Digital Literacies class, I couldn’t help but notice that Steve did not use the two terms interchangeably during his presentation. The definitions provided were that makerspaces are for DIY crafts, hobbies, etc. while hackerspaces are designed more for the tech. DIY projects/enthusiasts. I’m not sure I’m totally sold on that distinction. I am wonder if the two are/are not mutually exclusive. Do they have to be? To me, the HYPE Makerspace is an example of one physical space that bridges the two categories by offering traditional and tech. projects. Thoughts?

Marketing Trends & Innovations

One of the afternoon sessions that I attended focused on big data, content marketing, mobile marketing, social media, and crowd-sourcing, as they apply to libraries. Presenters Alison Circle & Jim Staley provided both an overview and specific examples of how they & their libraries are using marketing tools in innovative ways. A key take away for me was the need for libraries to shift their focus from counting and reporting data to analyzing and acting based on data. I loved the KPI dashboard that was shown. What a neat way to have all of your different data collection (facebook/twitter/blog stats, GIS data, etc) in one place. Having been a fan of Google Analytics for a while, I was also interested to learn how Mid-Continent Public Library uses the in-page data to find out what’s NOT being found on their site.  I also loved their branding initiative focusing on access. Broadcast message- Access Your World. Narrowcast message(s)- Access Your Community, Fun, etc. Also found it fascinating the different mental images created by the language surrounding libraries and their usage. What do you think of when you hear library card versus access pass? (Also check out their fabulous videos on homework help & digital/music services)

Overall, this was a truly thought-provoking opportunity. Each of the sessions I attended provided lots of points for discussion among the members of the libraries and communities I work with. The next step would be to figure out how to adapt these national exemplars to best fit the needs (and budget) of any local, public library.

*I also attended a session on content management systems for library websites-which will (hopefully) be the topic of a future post…once I do some homework on CMS managed library websites.

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