Have you LITA’d lately?

Is LITA (Library Information Technology Association) on your radar?  If you want to know (and use) cutting edge technology in libraries, you should make LITA and its brilliant brain trust your next deep dive into what makes libraries great.

The LITA forum – this year in Minneapolis – just wrapped up and I was blown away by what I learned while there.  A mea culpa – for reasons unknown (yet mightily embarrassing) I let LITA fall off my radar.  I’m changing that today.

While it’s true that LITA membership is predominately from academic institutions, there are public libraries in the mix.  I think this ratio of ALs : PLs is a great thing.  With new student populations to serve frequently, academic libraries are perhaps the most underutilized resource for ideas and inspiration for public libraries.  If you’re on the PL side and want to track generational sea changes, look at what’s happening in academic libraries.  As well, many institutions have access to technology and programming talent that public libraries most often can only dream of. This dynamic makes the LITA membership mix a compelling environment.

Just a couple of highlights from the 2016 conference that even non-technology librarians can appreciate:

  • Sessions about patron privacy & privacy literacy in the digital world
  • Application of gaming to create a better experience for library users
  • Developments in Linked Data to help us discover and use our electronic resources much more powerfully
  • Providing ebooks without vendors
  • A custom app designed to help make meeting room acoustics more pleasant
  • Supporting STEM through training & design
  • Girls in tech
  • Effective project management techniques
  • New and better ways to collaborate & share computer code
  • …and many more!

There’s lots more.  Check the LITA Forum site to see the full schedule.  The twitter feed – archived here – is well worth a look.  Hit the tweets and I promise it won’t be the last click you make in pursuit of fresh ideas and approaches to library services.

As well, I was honored to give the closing keynote and used the opportunity to challenge this brilliant group to dig even even deeper and deliberately design the impact they want to make by not just connecting with our current communities but stepping outside our hangouts, mixing it up, and coming back. The reaction afterwards and on social media was exhilarating and enlightening – lots of positives and some thoughtful negatives.  In retrospect, I realized this is the first time I’ve given a talk to my own community where the emphasis was on challenge instead of comfort, and all of the feedback helped me realize when I properly landed the message I wanted to deliver, and when I missed.  LITA – thanks for the openness.  I ended the talk inviting the group to participate in a six-month experiment to see how we can keep the conference glow burning after the reality of our work lives kick in.   I’ll share the results of that experiment in six months.

If you don’t know LITA or you haven’t checked in lately – this is a great time to do it.  Solutions to our big problems are currently being incubated though the work of LITA members and I can wait to dig more deeply myself.