Statement of Benefit from Danny Hussey
SWFLN Scholarship Essay: Computers in Libraries 2018
Danny Hussey, IT Manager
Sanibel Public Library
Throw away the playbook for ‘Becoming a Cutting Edge Library’, because Computers in Libraries does it again! Everything you thought you knew about transformational technologies and libraries is turned on its head as Computers in Libraries Conference 2018 showcases the most cutting edge technology programming and service ideas from leading libraries across the nation. Academic, public, special, and school librarians all benefited from insights and strategies for creating makerspaces, integrating virtual reality, expanding web services, empowering with digital information, and enhancing information sharing in communities.
As the Technology Manager of the Sanibel Public Library, I was interested in all aspects of technological innovation for public libraries. My primary focus for Computers in Libraries 2018 in Arlington Virginia was to gain new insights and up-to-date knowledge in the area of makerspace design, implementing virtual reality, and web content development. I hoped to discover new strategies and practices for makerspaces, network with peers with experience in these areas, and gain hands-on experience with advanced library technologies. Computers in Libraries 2018 offered the chance to hear from innovative libraries. A makerspace is an excellent collaborative work space for libraries to design and implement. Makerspaces have developed quickly over the last 5 years in all types of organizations and libraries. Early adopters are now able to share their insights with other libraries and provide real situational experiences. Makerspaces allow for making, learning, exploring and sharing ideas. Spaces are being designed to attract all library users including children, adults, and entrepreneurs. The makerspace portion of the conference took designing and planning makerspaces to a whole new level. Library makerspaces are implementing a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc machines, soldering irons and even sewing machines.
This makerspace concept discussed was called, ‘Escaping the 4-Walls’. The ‘Escape the 4-Walls’ concept reminded library planners to design makerspace areas with open air designs. The new makerspace model is an open access area which is included in the main service point location of your library. No longer are makerspaces encapsulated in separated rooms, but layered into specific existing adult and children’s areas. Makerspaces can also go on the road. Makerspaces can provide outreach opportunities at public, social, community, and educational events. The solutions offered during the Computers in Libraries makerspace portion offered valuable insight into makerspace design and use. This portion of the program would be valuable to academic, public, school, or special libraries. Any organization wishing to gain advanced knowledge of makerspace design and equipment gained new up-to-date insights. These spaces are also helping to prepare those who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence. Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and are being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups.
High quality organizations and speakers offered the ability to network and communicate with professionals in the library field. Academic, public, school, and special libraries all benefitted from leading edge industry knowledge about 3d printers, resin printers, 3d imagers, cutters, and engravers. Gaining hands on experience with high-end 3d printers such as the Prusa I3 empowered users with real world experience with new state-of-the-art devices. Allowing technology such as the 3D printer, embroidery machine, robotics, digital art, video production, virtual reality systems, and other equipment to be on mobile furniture with wheels allows the equipment to shared between departments or taken outside the building for outreach. This ‘Escape the 4-Walls’ approach allows for independent development in areas that can be age-specific, allowing for flexibility. Valuable insights and experiences were shared about makerspace technology. This conference allows librarians to skip to the forefront of technology planning and innovation by taking advantage of shared program models and roadmaps.
Understanding how to get a library started with virtual reality was another area of focus during the workshops visited. The virtual reality workshop allowed users to gain an appreciation of the history of VR technology and learn how all the basic hardware and software components that work together to create engaging experiences. An HTC Vive headset, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard were showcased. Academic, public, special, and school librarians all had the opportunity to experience the latest and greatest AR and VR technologies as well as to identify opportunities to use these technologies in their communities. Presentation materials as well as program materials were shared at each session. Computers in Libraries 2018 Programming gave librarians the tools necessary to decide whether VR equipment will work for your organization space, what policies you should have to ensure your users and equipment stay safe, and how to set everything up so that it works reliably.
Networking with peers is an important aspect of professional conferences. Computers in Libraries 2018 had a large number of participants and speakers. The conferences provided breakout sessions as well as more unconventional networking opportunities, like dinner signup sheets. Signing up to go to dinner with people with similar interests provided opportunities for librarians to meet others in the field. The conference encouraged attendees to meet and network in many ways. Social media networking was also encouraged. When it comes to social media the usefulness of tweeting at the conference was apparent. Twitter hashtags and Instagram photos help network librarians interested in similar topics. By using central hashtags used by other conference participants, you are able to enrich your experience of the conference. Tweets highlight statements from sessions that can be of interest both while in the conference but also after.
Computers in Libraries Conference 2018 showcased cutting edge programming and service ideas from leading libraries across the nation. Academic, public, special, and school librarians could all benefit from the strategies outlined about creating makerspaces, integrating virtual reality, and expanding web services. This conference was a success because I was able to gain new insights about interest areas, network with peers with experience in these areas, and gain hands-on experience with advanced library technologies. I was then able to take this knowledge back to the Sanibel Public Library to share with my cohort as well as seek to use this knowledge to integrate and expand meaningful library services for the community in which I serve.