What I ended up attending, Friday edition:
- Roundtable: The Inexorable March to Online Only
- The Life and Times of an Embedded Librarian
- Roundtable: Workflows
The roundtable topics were determined by two kinds of participant feedback: evaluations at the original sessions and the results of the ER&L Thought Cloud, where participants suggested and voted on topics they wanted to discuss.
The closing speaker, Tom Wilson (University of Alabama), briefly made a point about Google that I really liked, and that led to discussion afterwards. He pointed out that Google is not a federated search engine: it uses relevancy ranking (maybe well, maybe not well) and federated searches can’t. Federated search engines are, by nature, multiple databases, and can’t apply relevancy like Google can with its single database. I had never thought through to that point, and I think it’ll be on my mind for the plane ride home. (3/23/08: I will contact Tom Wilson about his remarks to make sure I haven’t completely misinterpreted the relevancy point.)
The roundtable about workflow could have been a conference in itself: different libraries (formally) present their situations, challenges, and successes, followed by discussion.
It may look like I’m throwing scissors, but I’m really talking about workflow.