Small ironies from my TLA 2012 conference presentation

I had the privilege of presenting yesterday afternoon at the Tennessee Library Association’s 2012 conference in Knoxville. The topic was “TBR Libraries on Any Screen: Creating Mobile Libraries”.

I co-presented with Sally Robertson from Nashville State Community College. The main focus of our presentation was that Tennessee Board of Regents Libraries should build an infrastructure to share progress and problems with our various, individual mobile library projects so that we can all build our pilots faster, learn from each other and avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Two major elements of any presentation on mobile libraries: availability of wireless internet access and eBooks.

So here’s the irony part. The hotel conference wireless worked really well in every room except for the one room in which we were presenting. Sally discovered this the day before when her presentation was crippled a bit by the lack of internet access. Our work around for her was to find someone willing to let her tether the laptop to their phone wireless. It worked well. Object lesson: be creative and ask people for help.

He wouldn’t tell us exactly how much that particular act of kindness would cost him. We knew we couldn’t ask that same person to allow us to tether two days in a row. 

Much of my yesterday morning was spent testing my laptop’s antenna, borrowing laptops from friends to test their access in the same room. It all came to nought. And then we had the fortune of meeting Rusty, who isn’t exactly the hotel IT guy since the hotel doesn’t exactly have an IT guy. Rusty is the friendly person at the hotel who helps set things up for conferences, knows where they keep the ethernet cables and is willing to help. If anybody needs to come up with a name for their next child, please consider Rusty.

Irony #1: we presented about the importance of strong, reliable wireless internet access in our libraries by using a laptop physically wired to the ethernet.

By the way, a side observation: despite all our fannish raving about the miraculous iPad as a teaching/learning device, you cannot plug an iPad directly into the ethernet cable. If we had been presenting with iPad only, as we considered doing, we would have been DOA.

Okay. So, no real problem. You roll with things and people help you figure them out.

Irony #2: We wanted an easy way to give attendees the URLs to our project website. Being good librarians, we created bookmarks. While handing them out, it occurred to me that anyone who reads primarily on an eReader has absolutely no use for a bookmark. We can keep giving them out, but at some point we might consider not calling them bookmarks and just call them long, skinny handouts and let the people who need a bookmark make the leap.

It was a fun presentation. I learned more from giving the presentation than people listening likely learned from me. That’s why I agree to present. 

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