Conference serendipity

Touring the Free Library of Philadelphia map collectionThere is something about getting together in person – just like there is something about browsing the shelves in a library – that leads to discoveries.

At SLA last month, I attended a tour of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s map collection with the Social Science Division Geography and Map Section. I decided to attend because I’ve always enjoyed G&M Section programs in the past, even though I’m not a map librarian, and because I always learn something when I get to visit another library behind the scenes.

I did, of course, learn a lot from seeing the different kinds of maps in the collection, how they were stored, and learning about conservation and digitization projects. The best part of the tour for me, though, came from a casual question I asked as I was about to leave: “Do you have any postal maps?”

The answer to that question led me to a resource that my library patrons can use, a potential collaboration, and to thinking about what other postal history-related collections might be tucked away in unexpected places.

On my library’s blog, I wrote a post about what I found at the Free Library of Philadelphia and more about finding postal history information in libraries. That post was featured in our member newsletter, and literally overnight became one of our most-read blog posts.

The Facebook tip I learned at SLA

One of the most useful things I learned at SLA this year came not from one of the many expert speakers but from a casual conversation with a colleague.

I was frustrated because I couldn’t find a way to comment on posts from a page I’m an admin for as myself. I finally found the solution and thought I’d share it.

Use Facebook as SLA Social Science DivisionNo matter how much I clicked on the “Use Facebook as SLA Social Science Division” and “Use Facebook as Tara” links, whenever I liked or commented on a Social Science Division post, it came up as a like or comment from the Social Science Division – making it look like the division was having a conversation with itself. I had resigned myself to the fact that I could no longer comment as myself once I became an admin. (At least until the next time Facebook changes its interface…)

I had complained about this “feature” to several people, when Morgan Grimes pointed out to me that there is a way to toggle between posting as the page and posting as myself.

For each page you are an admin for, you need to adjust the settings so that you don’t comment as the page by default.

Edit PageFirst, go to the page, and click on the “Edit Page” button in the upper right.

Your SettingsNext, click on “Your Settings” in the menu on the left.

Then you can uncheck the box that says “Always post and comment on your page as…”

Now the links to toggle between “Use Facebook as SLA Social Science Division” and “Use Facebook as Tara” actually work!

How to lead a virtual meeting

Ruth Wolfish has been leading monthly web-based meetings for SLA chapter leadership, and shared her lessons learned during the Leadership Development Institute at the beginning of SLA 2011.

I lead a bimonthly phone meeting for a group of philatelic librarians, and we’ve been thinking of trying to use the web to include library representatives from outside the U.S. I also lead a bimonthly phone board meeting for my SLA division board. While neither group has moved to web-based meetings yet, much of what Ruth shared can be applied to phone meetings.

Here’s a summary of her advice with a few comments from me:

  • Unlike in face to face meetings, people can leave early without being rude, so engage attendees early. (This is less true for small meetings, but attendees sitting in their offices will probably be checking their email or Facebook during the call if they get bored.)
  • Use a world clock if your audience is in multiple time zones.
  • Take questions in advance so you can be prepared to answer them during the meeting.
  • Practice the web features of the meeting software ahead of time. (Or, make sure you know how to use your teleconferencing system.)
  • Send out a reminder notice the morning of the meeting.
  • Ask attendees why they chose to join the meeting so you know what they want to get out of it.
  • Use the mute and chat box to manage discussion. (On a conference call, make sure attendees know they can mute their line when they are not talking to eliminate background noise.)
  • Set a date and time for the next meeting.
  • Thank people for attending and share your contact information.
  • After the meeting, send out highlight notes for those who didn’t attend. This informs them and encourages them to attend future meetings. (I send out notes to the entire group after each of my calls. It helps keep those who couldn’t attend updated so they can jump in at the next meeting.)

Why I’m tired this morning: SLA 2011

I got back from SLA 2011 in Philadelphia last night. As usual, it was a great conference and I came back full of ideas, many of which I plan to share here. But for now, I will share with you the reason I am drinking a second cup of coffee this morning:

SLA 2011 schedule

SLA has a really packed schedule and doesn’t leave much time for eating or sleeping.