This year marked my first ALA Midwinter Conference. I’ve been to Annual a few times (twice in DC and once in Chicago), and numerous smaller library conferences, but I’d always been curious about what Midwinter is like. This year I finally had an opportunity to attend, since I am serving on the LITA Education Committee and participated on the Drupal4Lib IG “FAIL!” panel with fabulous MC and librarian Nina McHale. The FAIL! panel was lots of fun, though pretty intimidating because I was sitting at a table with some incredibly smart people who have failed in what seemed to me more exciting ways. Either way, I got to talk about fishing cats at the National Zoo. And, you know, Drupal. Which I need to work on this weekend.
My favorite part of Midwinter is the fact that it’s mostly sitting down at a table with like minded people talking about issues, whether they are practical projects or general theoretical questions. It’s also small enough that you have a chance to run into people, unlike Annual where you can’t even find the people you set out to meet. For instance, walking by the Networking Uncommons I spotted Andromeda Yelton, whom I met though this blog and talk to on Twitter fairly often but had only met at Internet Librarian karaoke, where it’s hard to talk about web development.
I attended the Library Linked Data IG meeting on Sunday, which was a nice mix of people and ideas. Linked data is something I know about a lot more in theory than in practice, so it was good to get an idea of what some of the practical issues are. One concern/issue is bringing the library linked data world into the rest of the semantic web world–we have the coolest data, so we need to be a part of the conversations. Another issue is actually consuming linked data in libraries, which doesn’t have as many tools or examples available but is something that is more appealing to administrators.
Another topic was how to share information about available tools and data sets in something like a clearinghouse. One potential on ALA Connect is linked from the ALA page above, but the DLF already had a Zotero group, so that’s another potential. I mentioned to someone or other I was going to put myself through Linked Data bootcamp before Code4Lib in a few weeks so I can get beyond the beginner stage. I know I always say I will blog about things and then never do (silly clothing catalog is one major example), but maybe I will blog about this.
Either way, in the future will definitely try to attend Midwinter.