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Bittersweet CIL Summary

Apr - 21 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

Helene Blowers has a great post summing up what she learned at CIL – and it’s not pretty.

My CIL experience this year was bittersweet and I find myself personally leaving with a lot more unanswered questions and frustrations than new ideas and inspirations.

This type of frustration I heard echoed in almost every conversation (but thankfully not all) I had over the past three days. And given that this is about the 3rd Computers in Libraries conference highlighting the same tools and trends (wikis, blogs, user-generated content, the long tail etc), I'm beginning to wonder if what the profession really needs is just to give some administrators a good swift kick in the head. Those that I spent my time talking with clearly got all the 2.0 concepts, in fact they were apostles. But after trying to move their libraries forward for the past year or so, they felt stippled and oppressed by stale management and old world politics.

My heart melted a bit every time I heard a story from a passionate librarian whose gallant efforts to provide new and fresh services were crushed by the old guard. Clearly things need to change"¦ but I'm struggling even myself with exactly just how?

Like Helene, I had many such talks with librarians. In fact – I actually had the (sad) opportunity to sit near some of these people who have probably held back their passionate staff members. What were they doing at a conference with the “Library 2.0″ theme? They probably just come every year and go through the motions. Also like Helene, I got to talk to tons of passionate librarians. I learned just as much from librarians after hours as I did during the sessions.

I agree with Helene – we have to keep up the enthusiasm and battle for change as best as we can because in the end it will pay off:

It's hard to fight battles through small change, but with enough small battles, it creates some erosion. And the thing about erosion is … that if it continues long enough, it eventually leads to an avalanche of new opportunity!

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One Response so far.

  1. Julian says:

    I can definitely agree with how some attendees “go through the motions.” A lot of regular CIL attendees are from the DC area (myself included). I don’t exactly take off an afternoon (or maybe two) from work to go to a couple of sessions and talk to some vendors; I take it all in. My library usually represents well at CIL. This year, there were no fewer than six of us. What we all have in common is that we’re either working with technology initiatives as a part of our regular jobs, or we’re relatively new, highly-motivated individuals to our institution (and in some cases, to the profession).


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