The third day of the Manitoba Libraries Conference opened with breakfast (croissants and fruit), which was nice. This was the day I was convening sessions, so I had to stop by the registration desk a few times to pick up the checklists and gifts for the speakers. All very easy stuff.
The first session I convened was presented by Kathleen Williams from the Winnipeg Public Library along with a bunch of EAL teachers. The session was called Reaching Out to Newcomers, and was pretty good. When I worked in Section 22 I did a lot with our ESL collections and helping people find things so Kathleen’s talk was right in my wheelhouse. They were discussing the photo stories they’d created to help people at different English levels learn to use the library. It was informative all around and people asked good questions and went just a touch over time. My introducing even made a couple of people laugh (librarians in general seem to be fine with lame jokes, so something even moderately funny goes over well in my experience).
Then was a session by Michelle Larose-Kuzenko from the Manitoba Ministry of Education. Her talk was on Literacy with ICT. (I learned in my preconference research that ICT is Information and Communication Technology.) The speaker and I got along well when I was getting stuff set up. Her talk was focused on integrating technology and dealing with it appropriately into other lesson plans and things. I was completely out of my element in there, but the attendees asked questions so I didn’t have to. The only thing I could have asked would have been inane. The questions that did get asked had a bit of a hostile edge to them, as Ms. Larose-Kuzenko was a government official who imposes things on these library techs. I didn’t have to break up any fights though. I think that would have been part of my convenor duties.
After lunch I went to a presentation called Not Your Daddy’s Jackdaws, which was presented by a University of Manitoba Archivist. He was talking about Jackdaws and how todays things that are kind of like Jackdaws are different from Jackdaws. What is a Jackdaw? It’s a folder full of reproductions of historical documents about some historical person, place, thing, or time. They were produced by this British company in the 1960s and they made over 400 of them. The thing that made this session kind of weird was that he wanted to talk about how the new things that are sort of similar aren’t really like Jackdaws, but everyone in the room just wanted to talk about Jackdaws themselves (and how proud one school library was to have a bunch). He was approaching this as presenting his paper but people kept interrupting. It was kind of funny. I was glad I wasn’t convening this one.
Finally, I convened a session by Marg and Tom Stimson called How to Talk About Web2.0 Without Making Your Mother Bored. It didn’t quite deliver on that subtitle (my mom would still be bored, though the Stimsons were entertaining) but was interesting. Marg talked about all the cool stuff you could do in the classroom with Google Maps and different free bits of software. Tom Stimson livetweeted his class trip to Oak Hammock Marsh including pictures and the kids’ parents were commenting and stuff. It was all pretty neat. He also uses Spore in the classroom, which is awesome. (I recently got Spore and it is a wonderful game where you create a life form and have it evolve from a little multicellular thing into star-spanning empires. Highly recommended.) They had to talk about the creature they made as a class “growing up” instead of evolving because they had a Jehovah’s Witness kid in the class.
The Stimsons were great “Hey wow isn’t this neat!” kind of evangelists for Web 2.0 technologies, of the kind you’d see doing TED talks. Tom showed us screenshots of the kids’ pictures on their houses on Google Maps after navigating there from school in Google Earth, and I had to ask a question about how they deal with the kids’ privacy issues. They a) get waivers b) don’t use full names and c) use a “this’ll be up on the internet for four hours so parents should go see it now” kind of approach. Which made me feel a bit better.
And then the conference was over. It was a fine first experience. Now when I go to my first one as a student I’ll have something to compare it to.