LibTech Conference 2016

This Wednesday morning I presented to a packed house at the LibTech Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was great to hear questions and stories from the audience and it really drove home for me 1) how really different the ebook market is between academic and public libraries and 2) how important it is to talk to vendors and push into new markets. I had a great time and the attendees were very understanding of the late night copy on my slides.

After a sweet taco lunch, I attended Putting it All Together: Using Data for Web Design Decisions. The session featured three gentlemen from Bethel University talking about different data sources and how to interpret them holistically. They talked about user testing and how they used it to influence their website redesign. They found good results with big differences between the testing instances using small sample of students. It’s hard to interpret the differences between two very similar instances when testing with small groups.

They also talked about click tracking and their work with a tool called Crazy Egg. This tool features click visualizations of your site, both where users are clicking and how far they are scrolling. They also gave a basic overview of how to use Google Analytics for this type of thing, particularly looking at vendor and library created tools together in Analytics. They closed with a discussion of the stats in Springshare. They had a lot of great ideas for applying the data from these technologies to actual practice in libraries. One of the attendees also suggested a qualitative assessment tool called Reframer that seems very interesting.

The last session I attended on Wednesday was Sarah Thorngate and Allison Hoden from North Park University. They did usability testing in LibGuides 2 and took some student insights about how the guides were structured. Their big takeaway was that the impression that users took away was more influenced by images and the framing of the sites than the content on the site.


Thursday opened with a keynote by fantastic coding librarian Andromeda Yelton. We dipped our toes in the water of network security using Wireshark and Google Gruyere. We then dove into the SIP2 protocol, which is what our self check machines use to connect to the catalog and had a hard talk about all the patron data that we have flying around loose in libraries. She compiled a great list of resources and had some practical advice that even non-technical librarians can use to push on their vendors for increased patron privacy.

Next, I attended a session about innovative uses of LibGuides presented by John Hernandez, the Web & Mobile Services Librarian at Northwestern University. He talked about creating guides for faculty groups and around particular technology tools. Northwestern also created guides for librarians using LibGuides to help with the transition to LibGuides 2 and new employees at the library. This might be a nice thing for the Library Faculty Executive Committee to put together around promotion and tenure, Miami University has a similar guide about professional development for librarians. Hernandez also showed how some libraries are using LibGuides to build their whole website (HCC Libraries, Tulsa Community College, University of St. Francis, National University of Singapore).

The last session I attended was a workshop called Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About: Initiating and Maintaining Scalable Library Assessment and Evaluation presented by Carol Leibiger and Alan Aldrich of the University of South Dakota. This was mostly focused on assessing learning and evaluating teaching in libraries. The librarians who presented this session compiled a great LibGuide with links and tips for assessment and evaluation.

LibTech was a great conference with amazing food, a good community, and excellent sessions! It was great to hang with my fam and this lil guy:

LibTech, I’ll be back!