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Conference Report:

  Educause 2001 - an EDU Odyssey

John Lamborn, Systems & Access Services Librarian

 I appreciate the opportunity provided to me by the Library to attend this year's Educause Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Educause is a national association which seeks to "advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology."  The conference attracted some 6000 attendees from around the world.  Eight concurrent tracks gave focus to information technology issues and innovations relating to libraries, support and training, IT management, teaching and learning, information systems and e-business, emerging technologies, and infrastructure/networking/security. The amount of information was over-whelming.  The speakers were insightful and articulate. The overall experience was exhilarating. Even though the breadth and depth of the challenges addressed was daunting, the reaffirmation that collaboration and consultation are a "best practice" when dealing with such challenges was reassuring.

On Sunday I attended two half-day seminars.  The first was The Digital Library: A Design Process for the Next Decade, for which I served as the "convener" and was rewarded with a free breakfast (not to mention "one on one" time with the speakers). The planning process demonstrated in this session seemed especially applicable to the library/IT environments.  I am anxious to try them out. The afternoon session was Crafting an Electronic Constitution: a Framework for IT Policy Development..  The complexities and challenges of policy development in general were discussed, then the complications of policy application in the IT environment was honestly addressed.  Bottom-line: policy development is hard work, takes a long time, will continually have to be assessed and changed, but it is an essential component of a successful planning process. 

I attended a variety of sessions dealing with portal technologies, image libraries, IT/Library cooperation, and change management.  I also spent several hours during the course of the conference in the exhibit hall.  A few highlights that may be of interest are given below:

  • Howard Strauss, Princeton University, seminar on web portal gave a good overview of definitions, structures, components and principles.

  • A good strategy for dealing with requests to the library for assistance in  providing access to digital/image collections built and maintained by other departments was presented by Caroline Beebe of NCSU.

  • Management of digital library technology applications from a broader perspective was presented by Don Gourley of the Washington Research Library Consortium.

  • Two interesting featured speakers were Neil Gershenfeld, whose "Universities That Think" was quite visionary, and Carl Jacobson who spoke on the myriad roles of the web for higher education and the opportunities that arise from analysis and application of e-business practices.

  • Of course, Sally Ride's photo presentation highlighting her Challenger days were entertaining.  She said it wasn't true that astronauts spend all their time at the shuttle windows taking pictures when crossing earth's day side, then turn their attention to their work when crossing earth's night side; they spend all their time at the windows taking pictures period.

Indianapolis was a pleasant surprise.  It has much in common with Salt Lake City, though it's downtown areaseems more compact has recently been successfully revitalized:  lots of shopping, entertainment and dining choices.  It also has more steak houses in a six block area than I would have thought possible or advisable, but all seem successful!  The Indiana statehouse, the RCA dome (where the Colts play) and Conseco Fieldhouse (where the Pacers play) were all within easy walking distance of my hotel.  The Indiana War Memorial is located just north of downtown district.  The latter encompasses a four block "mall" of parks, museums,  and what can only be described as a shrines to patriotism.  A bit unnerving (I had a bad experience with the American Legion as a youth. . .), but impressive nonetheless. 


  

 


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