A lesson learned at the LAUC-B October Conference

 I.  Lots to take in…

                I am still taking time to digest it all.  Going to the conference allowed me to become more aware–if I wasn’t already–about the attitudes, preferences and behaviors of current college students in the UC system. 

 II.  Interesting speakers, great findings…

                The afternoon panel discussions by Mary Linn Bergstrom and Susan Shepherd’s Undergraduate in a Science and Engineering Library; Char Booth’s Informing Innovation with Local User Research and Jeff Rosen and Thoreau Lovell’s Gaining a Foothold in Theirspace were excellent primers for what all the stuff I was going to miss.  For me, choosing one breakout session over the other was difficult because each of the presenter’s work had something juicy. 

For instance:

  • Rosen and Lovell’s philosophy of “small changes, big impacts” felt like such a sound practice.
  • Booth’s main message of utilizing user research and applying it to your own [college library] environment. And,
  • Bergstrom and Shepherd’s seemingly nuturing practices of a relaxed food and drink policy with smatterings of great candy and brainy-like Jenga games all seem to fit into a best practices model for catering to college students.  In essence, all of the presenters had solutions that were working

III.  Lesson learned:  I need time away from all this and I’m not like the generation ahead of me…

                In between drafting a blog about this and editing the pictures in my previous post, I really got the sense that people in younger generations are changing and adapting to different technologies.  It’s the thing we must continue to learn from them.  However, much can be learned from us.  At least, I come from this school of silent spaces.  You know spaces in libraries that are untouched by technology?  No wires, no whirring of hard drives and no streaming media dancing off screens.  I’m relieved that college libraries still have the “shuuuush” zones.  Although, maybe the practice isn’t shushing as it were in my undergrad days.

                Ironically, I read in the New York Times Magazine and interesting article on “self-binding” <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/magazine/25FOB-WWLN-t.html> in which Peggy Orenstein practices the non-use of Internet in order to find freedom (also a Mac program) from the hustle and bustle of banner ads, Google searches and unexpected trips to sordid videos on YouTube.  Refreshingly, she interviews Fred Stutzman–a grad student in information and library science–who “writ[es] at a café without Internet access,” but sadly fails when the café adopts wireless access.   Orenstein argues that the whole pursuit of information seeking online is akin to falling prey to a Siren’s song.

                For me?  My library and information science program increasingly demands that I hunt for relevant sources to do my projects and papers.  However, deliverables I produce are somtimes hinged on Internet searches by using a variety of search tools from Bing to Resfseek.  I even cull the restricted materials online at the King Library as much as I can.  Mostly, I use the library–the (quiet) books part of it–because lots of time can be sucked up from lack of online self-discipline.  So, instead of using a smart program like Mac’s Freedom, I have a more analog solution:  I use an egg timer (setting it to a targeted amount of time to find something online).  Once the alarm goes off, I jump on my yoga mat and do downward facing dog–holding the pose for several breaths until I get my sanity back.  Too bad you can’t check out a zazen pillow or a yoga mat at a library for a little piece of self-reflection before studies, right?

                I’ll close for now–my alarm just went off and it’s back on the mat for me.