Gracelyn Cassell-2008 LITA Forum Travel Grant Winner

Gracelyn Cassell, Librarian, Montserrat, West Indies
2008 Errol Hill LITA Forum Travel Grant Winner


I was indeed fortunate to have been the Librarian from the Caribbean who received the 2008 Errol Hill Travel Grant to attend the LITA National Forum that was held in Cincinnati October 15 to 20, 2008. The process of preparing this report on my attendance at the Forum had me spending quite some time reflecting on the journey that led to the LITA National Forum in Cincinnati where I attended three general sessions and six of the concurrent sessions.

It all started back in 1979 with my undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica when students there were still using punch cards. On graduation in 1982, I started my library career in the Montserrat Public Library which became the local hub for regional initiatives in the use of technology for information management. The software that was then widely in use in Caribbean libraries was CDS ISIS (DOS version) which was developed by UNESCO’s Giampaolo Del Bigio in whose training session, I once sat and whose jokes around the dinner table I enjoyed immensely.

From the mid-80s and right into the 90s, I was very much involved in such information systems and networks as:

CARISPLAN (Caribbean Information System for Social and Economic

CEIS (Caribbean Energy Information System)

CAGRIS (Caribbean Agricultural Information System

CARSTIN (Caribbean Science and Technology Information Network)

OECS INFONET (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Sub-regional Information Network)

MEDCARIB (Caribbean Health Sciences Information Network)

Those were the days when pioneering work was being done by change agents such as Wilma Primus who was Head of the Documentation Centre at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) which is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Her efforts were ably supported by the work of Carol Collins, who was then Director of Information and Communication for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Fay Durrant, now Professor and Head of the Department of Library and Information Studies (DLIS) at UWI, Mona and recently deceased librarian, Audrey Chambers whose last appointment was that of head of the Library at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) UWI, Mona.

These were people with whom I worked closely during those formative years. I was very impressed with their vision and their relentless thrust to get information technology into Caribbean Libraries, to ensure that as many persons as possible were trained in the use of CDS/ISIS and that all efforts were directed at having bibliographic control over information generated in the region.

I accepted unquestioningly their vision of Caribbean libraries working together to maximize on limited resources and when in 2007, I started the process of gathering data on the state of libraries in our region I became all too conscious that there had been a gradual erosion of that vision. I recognized that few of the early initiatives had been sustained and librarians were starved for dialogue with colleagues and missed the kind of networking that was prevalent in the 80s and 90s. There was some reassurance that all was not lost when Sandra John, another of my mentors, who before retiring as Chief, Caribbean Knowledge Management Centre at UNECLAC organized an “Information Specialists Expert Meeting and Content Management Workshop” from May 15 to 16, 2007 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This workshop covered digital content management, the impact of ICT on Caribbean people and knowledge management in the public sector. This was an attempt to “accelerate progress being made by the Caribbean sub-region towards an information society” and to provide “a practical opportunity for establishing a viable human network, supportive of knowledge sharing.” Workshop participants were also made aware of open source software such as Drupal, Joomla! and Plone that are available for content management.

Since that 2007 survey of libraries, I have been pondering long and hard on the most efficient and effective approach to developing dialogue with persons who have the technical skills so badly needed to assist Caribbean libraries to make far better use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Alongside the dialogue would be the networking that would sustain the deployment of information systems and services that would take our libraries into the 21st century. To a large extent, these concerns determined my choice of sessions at the LITA National Forum. It was difficult but personal interests in institutional repositories and information literacy had to take second place to issues that had wider implications for the region.

The theme of the 2008 Forum “Technology and Community: Building the Techno Community Library” and the presentations that I attended provided a wealth of information as to low cost solutions that could be utilized by libraries in the region to improve their operations. During the 4 days, I experienced a number of Eureka moments as I recognized potential solutions to some of the issues with which I had been concerned.

The Pre-Conference “Innovations in Next Generation Library Management Systems” by Tim Daniels (PINES Programme Manager), Diana Weaver (Northeast Kansas Library System) and Andrew Nagy (Villanova University) showed how open source applications are already being used to deliver integrated library services comparable to those afforded by proprietory systems. Tim spoke about Evergreen which is a library management system for cataloguing and circulation. Diana discussed Koha another open source ILS while Andrew dealt with VuFind an open-source OPAC replacement/Library portal. They were quite convincing about the benefits of this kind of software, benefits that libraries without the financial resources could very well exploit.

The Opening General Session “What is Social Cataloguing and Where is it Going” by Tim Spalding who created was welcome information for a number of reasons. Many of the libraries in our region have been trying to get their catalogues online. Not only does LibraryThing provide functionalities for quickly getting library collections on the internet, it also simplifies the whole process of cataloguing and provides an application programming interface (API) for developing social networks. I personally feel that far too many libraries are still doing original cataloguing and while this may be necessary for local publications, it is incomprehensible for material already in other online catalogues. LibraryThing pulls cataloguing data from over 600 library catalogues, including the Library of Congress and could easily eliminate duplication of effort allowing time to be better spent on other information services.

Annette Bailey’s presentation “LiBX: Enhancing User Access to Library Resources” brought yet another award winning piece of open source software to my attention. LiBX is a plug-in that can be used with the Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers. It allows for direct access to the various library resources eg, the online public access catalogue, e-journals, and digital collections without having to change interfaces. Some libraries require users to search through various databases to find information while LiBX apparently allows for federated searches across databases.

The second Concurrent Session that I attended was “Re-Swizzling the IT Enterprise for the Next Generation: Creating a Strategic and Organizational Model for Effective IT Management” presented by Maurice York of North Carolina State University Libraries. He spoke about the various layers of services including security, authentication, licensing, web authoring which systems departments within libraries can provide. Unfortunately, very few Caribbean libraries have a systems librarian much less a systems department. Too often the foundational pillars of support, operations, products and applications about which Maurice spoke are the responsibility of the sole individual, not necessarily trained, with an interest in using IT for the delivery of library services. We will need to find a way to get such persons the kind of exposure and ultimately training that will re-swizzle their libraries.

Having gone to Michael Porter’s web site before his GENERAL SESSION: “Hi-Fi-Sci-Fi-Library: Technology, Convergence, Content Community, Ubiquity and Library” I was able to join in singing the “Hi-Fi-Sci-Fi-Library” song. I also accepted the notion of libraries as providing access to content and spaces for people to be part of a community. While laser keyboards, and photo pen phones may not yet be widely available in the Caribbean, we are all too conscious of how the technology is developing particularly after witnessing flexible screens and the holograph during the coverage of the recent elections in the US. Will we ever be able to catch up or will the digital divide remain?

I was able to participate in the “Five Minute Madness” session with my presentation “Incorporating ICT and a New Vision for Caribbean Libraries.” I was rather pleased with the response to my plea for assistance. Several persons provided cards and wanted further information. Discussions have since been held with the Head of the Library School at Mona who is willing to partner in a project to get IT skills into the region to assist with developing information services. The details of this project will soon be shared with those persons who indicated their interest in assisting.

Rachel Vacek from the University of Houston Libraries made a very pertinent presentation entitled “Putting the Library Website in Their Hands: The Advantages and Challenges of a Homegrown Content Management System.” She provided information on the various content management systems eg. Drupal, IGOOGLE, and NetVibes, and brought other open source software for federated searching such as LIBRARYFIND, and sources of copyright free images such as FLICKR to my attention. This sort of information is very valuable to the library operating with scare resources. I also hope that the system she created will be made available as Open Source.

The panel discussion on “Web Site Redesign: Perspectives for the Field Panel Discussion” with Robin Leech (Oklahoma State University Libraries); Amelia Brunskill (Dickinson College), Edward M. Corrado (Binghamton University), Elizabeth Black (Ohio State University Libraries) and Russell Schelby (Ohio State University Libraries) highlighted a variety of research methods used to get feedback from users about web site design. I have an enduring interest in simple but effective web sites and realize that too often designers forget their audience and get carried away with the available technologies.

Nina McHale’s presentation “Optimizing Library Resources for screen Readers” provided an important reminder that library users may have visual impairments and their needs have to be considered when developing web sites and providing access to library resources. JAWS was in use at the Main Library at UWI Mona where I worked up to 2005 but I never thought about the impact of problems in the online catalogue being read by the software and the difficulties that this would present for the visually impaired.

David Lankes presentation “Obligation of Leadership” provided the right note on which to end the Forum. He presented a number of challenges which I took seriously. As leaders we have to be willing to fight for change and stick to the following core principles:

* Service to improve the community in which we find ourselves
* Sharing knowledge since it does not reside in things but in people
* Encourage learning
* Intellectual Freedom
* Access
* Intellectual honesty

I thank David for reminding us that libraries have to be active participants in the conversation which is part of the knowledge business. Too many of us sit and wait rather than being proactive taking the conversation forward. If there is anything that was drummed home at the 2008 LITA National Forum it is that the mission of the Library is to make the world a better place.

Without the generosity of Mrs. Grace Hope Hill in providing the grant for Caribbean librarians to experience the LITA National Forum, the kind of exposure that I had over the period would not have been possible. This kind of assistance speaks of a vision for the Caribbean which I recognized in the region’s library pioneers. Needless to say, there were additional benefits to the visit as well. Thanks to Betsy Salt, Catalog Librarian at the Courtright Memorial Library, Otterbein College in Ohio, I was able to visit her library where head of the Library, Lois Szudy, allowed me to select materials for the small collection at the UWI Open Campus in Montserrat. Betsy also took me to sales at bookshops so that I was able to acquire material for the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme and the Parenting Programme in Montserrat.

Gracelyn Cassell, B.A. Library Studies (UWI), M.A. Archives (Lond), and M Sc Computer Assisted Management Information Systems (UWI) worked in the Montserrat Public Library from 1982 to 1997 and in the Main Library at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica from 1997 to 2005. In August 2005, she returned to Montserrat to take up the post of Head of the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies, now the UWI Open Campus Montserrat.

Annette Smith – 2007 LITA Forum Travel Grant Winner

Ms. Annette Smith from Barbados, West Indies, was the winner of the 2007 LITA-IRC Travel Grant to the 2007 LITA Forum. Ms. Smith is the Director of the National Library Service, Bridgetown, Barbados, WI. In her candidate’s report, she gives her impressions of the 2007 LITA Forum in Denver, Colorado.
2007 LITA Forum

Phew! The flight was touching down in Denver, I had made it. I hadn’t dared to say this before; it wasn’t unheard of to have an aircraft turn back for one reason or other.

I arrived in Denver on October 5 late at night, too late even to buy a toothbrush. I didn’t care; I had made it. I was the lucky recipient of the 2007 LITA Travel Grant and I had made it to the main conference of the National Forum.

I had registered in August to catch the “early bird special.” My plan was to arrive in Denver on the afternoon of the third, attend the pre-conference, the main conference, and spend two days, through the courtesy of the Denver Library Association, visiting public libraries and looking at services and programmes.

My plans, to quote the old adage, had nearly “come to naught” as local conditions conspired to prevent me from leaving Barbados. So here I was, arriving at almost 10 PM on the night of the fifth, two days into the Forum, looking for a taxi and a toothbrush! I found the taxi; but, instead of wending my way to the room I had originally booked at the Denver Marriott Center Hotel, the venue of the Forum, I was now on my way to the Marriott at Cherry Creek, $ 17 US per trip from the venue of the Forum.

The Forum was all I had expected. The theme was Technology with Altitude. I had checked the schedule and had narrowed my list of “absolutely must attend” sessions reluctantly to six of the concurrent sessions, two general ones, and all of the poster sessions. I had also decided that I would try to register on the spot for the second pre-conference if there was still space.

My late arrival should have forced me to reduce the number of concurrent sessions I could attend. This would have been the sensible approach but instead I tried to regain lost time by hopping around from session to session. On hindsight, I should have relied on the conference papers to cover the areas I could not attend. Eventually I attended David King’s, The Future is not out of Reach: Change, Library 2.0 and Emerging Trends; Corrado’s, http://Library 2.0; some of Catherine Dannik’s, It’s Up and Running. Now What …; Martha Chantiny, Using the Street Print Engine for Digital Image Collections at the University of Hawaii; all of the Poster Sessions and Jeremy Frumkin, In our Cages with Golden Bars. I was also able to spend one day visiting libraries.

It seems to me that technology and library go hand in hand, like the proverbial ‘hand and glove’. Every time a new application comes on the scene the library community finds a way to build it into the programme or service delivery system. However, for some of us, the new technologies are creating an operating environment that, if not totally unfamiliar, at least appears a lot different from the one to which some of us have grown accustomed. It may well be, as Toffler wrote way back in the 70s, that the time lag between the idea of a new technology and the application of that technology has been drastically cut. More than 30 years later this analysis is probably truer than it was then.

In the past, when the librarian and libraries guarded access to the portals of knowledge, when we stood between the customers and the technology, change went on around us but if we could not afford to buy it we could keep quiet about it. For some of us this has all changed. The customer now not only knows what is on the market, he knows how to use it and when the new release is out, long before some libraries and librarians even see the outdated beta version.

At the time of writing his Future Shock, Toffler identified the impact of the application of technology at different levels separating people into three groups:

– People of the past whose lives were still geared to the slower rhythms of agriculture making up 70%;
– The industrialized people of the present who had only lingering memories of the agricultural past making up more than 25%; and
– The people of the future, about 2-3%, the earliest citizens of the worldwide super industrial society always looking for a change.

I feel Toffler could have pegged a fourth group; a group of “wannebees” a group that understands, even though it cannot climb on to the bandwagon, that the synergies created by the evolving customer needs and new technologies would force change; that the change would affect tasks, requiring different skills and qualities to perform these tasks as well as requiring different styles in management and leadership.

I would like to think that even if I was not in the 25 or 2 % that at least I had left 70% group and could be in the fourth group. So I arrived at LITA 2007 with my checklist of questions:

– What’s the latest in the new ICTs?
– What discrete technologies do I need to know about?
– How relevant are they to a small library in a developing or country-in-transition stage?
– Are these technologies affordable?
– Who needs these technologies?
– Can one afford to ignore these technologies and for how long?
– What competencies will the library need to embrace these technologies to remain relevant?
– What structures will need to be dismantled or rebuilt to adjust?
– Is it possible to compensate for the lack of these technologies?

I had gotten to the Forum late but I was glad that I had made it. I was glad that I had had the opportunity to attend. I left with papers that would help to narrow the information gap created when I missed half the sessions, with ideas, answers, more questions, but at least with the names of contacts I had made; maybe, and more than likely, finding answers in the future would not be so hard.

I owe thanks to a host of people for providing this opportunity. Some of them I may never find out about and some I hope I have thanked already but here I should like to thank my friend and mentor Carla Stoffle for bringing the Grant to my attention; to Claudia Hill for working her own brand of magic when it seemed as if planning and effort would lose the day-thank you so much Claudia-and to Rochelle Logan of the Douglas County Libraries who was gracious enough to clear a slot in her busy schedule to show me around some of the libraries.

To the 2008 lucky candidate enjoy yourself, enjoy the intimate environment of a small meeting, ALA participants know what I mean!

Annette Smith

Travel Grant: 2008 LITA Forum

Grant Available to Attend Library Information Technology Association
National Forum October 2008 USA

Sponsor: Mrs. Grace Hope Hill in Memory of Professor Errol Gaston Hill

Conference Theme:
Technology and Community: Building the Techno Community Library

October 16-19, 2008, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

The Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association, announces a grant to support and promote international participation at the 2008 LITA National Forum.

The grant provides up to $2,500.00 US for a librarian currently living and working in the Caribbean, with preference given to a librarian from the Windward Islands (especially Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines and Grenada) to attend the 2008 LITA National Forum in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 15-16, 2008. The grant covers only airfare, hotel, registration, and currency conversion fees up to the grant total. The grantee is responsible for meals and other expenses not covered by the $2,500 grant. He or she will have opportunities to meet with the LITA leadership and members as well as attend the full forum.

To be eligible, an applicant must: (1) be living and working in the Caribbean; (2) hold citizenship other than U.S.; (3) have between five and fifteen years of work experience in a library or information setting; (4) have an interest in or experience with using, managing, or leading technology in a library or information setting; (5) understand English; (6) and not be a regular LITA Forum attendee.

Applications should be sent by e-mail to with subject line: LITA Grant. The application must contain the following, submitted in English:
name, work address and e-mail addresses, current job title, brief resume, a brief summary of experience working with technology in a library or information setting, and a 200 or fewer word statement about why you would like to attend the LITA Forum including an indication as to whether this is the first time you would be attending a LITA Forum.

Application deadline is 5:00 pm (EST) May 1, 2008.

For more information about the Forum, visit

Questions to or

LITA International Relations Committee Meeting

LITA-IRC Meeting, Monday, June 25, 2007
10:30am -12pm
Renaissance Hotel – Room 17

The focus of LITA’s International Relations Committee meeting was on the selection of the International Visitor Travel Grant candidate to the 2007 LITA Forum, arrangement for the grant recipient’s visit to the United States, report of the 2006 Travel Grant winner and preparation for the announcement of the next International Visitor Travel Grant to the 2008 LITA Forum.

2007 Travel Grant Winner
The 2007 grant, sponsored by a private donation, was for a librarian currently living and working in the Caribbean. Annette Smith from Barbados, West Indies, one of 12 applicants, is the winner of the 2007 Travel Grant. Ms. Smith, Director of the National Library Service, holds a Masters in Public Administration, University of Manitoba, Canada, a Postgraduate Diploma in Library Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona, and a BA with Honors from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. She is also an advisor to the Barbados government on library and information services. The runner up winner is Gracelyn Cassell, from Montserrat, West Indies.

Announcements for the grant were posted on LITA-L, LITA’s blog and website. In addition, the University of the West Indies assisted in advertising the grant. The announcement was also sent to various Caribbean consulates and ACURIL (Association of Caribbean University, Research, and Institutional Libraries). It was suggested the perhaps IRC’s Americas Subcommittee could assist with publicizing the 2008 Travel Grant.

2006 Travel Grant Winner’s Report
The past recipient of the travel grant to the 2006 LITA Forum was Frank Soodeen, Systems Librarian, University of the West Indies. The 2004-2006 LITA-IRC Chair, David Nutty, coordinated Mr. Soodeen’s visit to LITA Forum and met him at the Forum. The committee was most grateful to Michael Dowling, IRC Director, for including Mr. Soodeen’s report of his trip in the June 2007 issue of International Leads, p.6.

2008-2009 Program Planning
The incoming Chair of LITA-IRC is Teri Sierra from the Library of Congress. In addition to managing the 2008 Travel Grant, Teri is interested in exploring a possible collaborative program for Annual 2009. An idea currently being discussed is the state of current international technology projects such as One Laptop per Child perhaps collaborating with ALSC-IRC, the Gates Foundation’s international projects, and digitization projects to preserve Afghanistan materials. LITA-IRC is looking for additional members and visitors to join this exciting committee. Just fill out an online LITA committee interest form on LITA’s website. We look forward to seeing you at the LITA-IRC Midwinter meeting.

LITA Happy Hour: Stout Ale Chili and More…

A great crowd met on Saturday night at the Capital City Brewing Company for LITA’s Happy Hour. This was the place to be…to catch up with colleagues, sample the wide selection of cool ales and a bit of the hot cuisine!

Those popular, glowing blue LITA necklaces, handed out by Mary Taylor, LITA Executive Director, identified members in the packed locale. Catherine Jannick from Georgia Tech in Atlanta and on the 2007 LITA Forum Planning Committee, reminded members that registration was now open for the Forum. Karen Schneider approved of the site stating it’s “crowded but wonderful.” John S. [I promised not to write his last name], a Cataloger and Systems Support Librarian, University of Maryland, agreed. He confessed to me that he really likes LITA people and loved coming to Happy Hour, adding shamelessly “even though my membership had expired.” Well, join again John!

Kansas librarians Martin Courtois, Leslie Nord and Monique Sendeze chatted with this blogger. Martin is the D-Space Coordinator from Kansas State Unviersity and is in the midst of convincing Anthropology and Food Science faculty to submit their articles to be posted on the D-Space platform. Leslie, the Information Services Training Coordinator at Johnson County Library told me that patrons at her library love blogging about the library staff…and in turn the librarians enjoy reading the blogs. Monique, also from the Johnson County Library, said that they had just purchased a new content management system, Episerver, from a Swedish vendor. What attracted them to this system was easy of patron contribution, flexibility of the stylesheets and RSS feeds.

The future generation of the catalog was on ExLibris’s Greg Gosselin’s mind though surrounded by the merriment of his University of Minnesota friends Betsy, Janet and Laura. They endorsed the Raspberry Wheat ale, though Janet preferred the Chocolate Belgium ale. “Librarians are good tippers and drink a lot,” Betsy told me. Then she added quickly, “But, not necessarily in that order.”

Aaron Dobbs, Systems and Electronic Resources Librarian, Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, came over to the table where I was dining on a bowl of delicious stout ale chili with Ray Schwartz. “I’ve read a lot of critiques of ALA in the biblio-blogosphere and other online chats and twitters,” Aaron said. As a result, Aaron has set up a wiki where people can add their views in a centralized place. He wants to see a slate of people run for ALA Council who will address issues raised in the wiki. Here is the wiki site:

While I enjoyed that tasty bowl of chili, Ray, Systems Specialist Librarian at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., mentioned that he had written some reporting modules for acquisitions and circulation data for their Voyager System using cold fusion and phps. He’ll share his reporting scripts if anyone is interested. Next on his plate was the Chicago Marathon in October. Good luck Ray! Have a terrific conference everyone.

International Vistor to the 2006 LITA Forum

From October 26 -29, 2006, a fairly large group of librarians and information technology professionals from various institutions across the United States descended upon Nashville Tennessee to attend the LITA Forum. The 2006 Forum had as its theme ‘Web Services as Library Services.

I was fortunate to be there as I had been selected by LITA-IRC to be the recipient of the International Visitor Grant in memory of the late Professor Errol Hill. My children, living in London, could not picture their father in Nashville, home to the Grand Ole Opry and the legends of country music. I come from Trinidad and Tobago, the land of calypso and steel pan music. In Nashville nonetheless, is where I was, and I found the city and the LITA Forum a wonderful experience.

For me, it was an honour and a privilege to have been selected for the award, particularly as it was granted in memory of a great son of the soil of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Errol Hill. I had been exposed to the work of Professor Hill early during my years as a high school student at Naparima College in San Fernando, Trinidad, when we studied his folk play/musical “Man Better Man”. I therefore felt that in attending the LITA Forum through this sponsorship, I was somehow reconnecting to this aspect of my past.

The fact that library services could be developed through the interoperability of web services programs along a continuum ranging from the very simple to complex sophisticated applications engaging the library user in highly interactive ways was the underlying thread of this conference. Throughout the conference venue, there seemed to be a sense of excitement in a future limited by our own imagination and creativity as librarians. There was also a sense that there was so much that the profession had to think about in order to meet the growing expectations of our ‘new’ users, that it simply boggled the mind.

As usually happens at any good conference, attendees were spoilt for choice when it came to the concurrent sessions. We wished that we could have attended all the sessions as they all had something important to provide in terms of expanding our understanding of how libraries could effectively use the Web to deliver added-value services.

The LITA Forum keynote speakers all provided serious food for thought. The opening session featured Alan Stoker, Steve Maer and John Rumber of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Although their presentation was not in the main about web services, they did provide some useful insights into the preservation and archiving of acetate and vinyl recordings. The conference was also privileged to hear digitized audio recordings of excerpts from some of these cultural heritage pieces. Incidentally the archive is using DSpace to manage its digital repository, a fact that I found particularly pertinent as we are also experimenting with DSpace at the library of The University of the West Indies where I currently work.

The second day’s keynote session was very interesting. It featured Thom Gillespie, creator and designer of the MIME program in interactive communication in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University. He maintains that in the twenty-first century libraries should be about supporting very active learners in the ways in which schools rarely support them, namely with books and video, software, training, and potentially, even a venue for publication Gillespie is enthusiastic about computer game design and sees gaming as a tool for creating user interfaces that libraries could tap into to teach information literacy and generally engage the user in ways that are relevant to their cultural and learning background in this new millennium.

Stephen Abram, the man with the really intriguing job title, VP Innovation, SirsiDynix, was the keynote speaker on the final day of the Forum. He stressed that there is a global conversation presently engaging many across the world about the next generation of the web. It’s happening under the name of Web 2.0, a concept that refers to a perceived or proposed second generation of Web-based services—such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies—that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. Abram spent considerable time challenging the librarians in the audience to be introspective and to question what are the skills and competencies that they will need in the environment of the Web 2 and perhaps the Web 3 in the not too distant future.

The concurrent sessions were as interesting as the keynote addresses. Among those that I managed to attend were presentations on the following:

• innovative library instruction modules developed using web
based applications,
• improving library services with AJAX and RSS,
• exploring the use of podcasting and blogs in libraries, and
• developing database driven web sites using Cold Fusion.

All these sessions pointed to the fact that libraries continue to experience technological innovations as they strive to be creative in the delivery of content to their users and to create more dynamic, robust and interesting websites. It was also clear that librarians will need to continue to grapple with the question of how best to use the web’s communicative advantage to help library users find the most useful, relevant and authoritative information available. Should we as librarians distrust the web, or should we embrace its best characteristics and technologies in order to better treat with our users?

One of the highlights of the LITA Forum is the opportunity for professional networking during the unofficial meetings. Everybody likes to socialize during the breaks and the lunch sessions. It was really a pleasure to be able to meet and discuss issues with colleagues from all over the US and some from Europe as well! This international and multicultural aspect makes the conference so much more interesting and rewarding.

In conclusion, I feel that that the 2006 LITA FORUM concretized in my mind some of the ideas and concepts associated with the leading edge information technologies that are fast being adopted under the promise and potential of the Web 2. Perhaps more importantly, it served as timely reminder to us librarians of the tremendous responsibility to adapt to this new scenario. I now feel confident that I can help my librarian colleagues at the University of the West Indies to apply some of the knowledge of leading edge technologies that I imbibed at the conference to ensure that our students and faculty have a research and learning environment that is on par with international standards and best practice. It would be great if more librarians from the Caribbean and other developing regions are exposed to such ideas through this type of conference.

I think that the conference was a success and, for all of us who were able to attend, an unforgettable event. I would like to thank my sponsor, Mrs. Grace Hope-Hill for the grant which enabled my travel and participation in the LITA Forum, 2006.


Frank Soodeen
Librarian III (Systems)
The University of the West Indies
St. Augustine
Trinidad and Tobago

Travel Grant: 2007 LITA Forum

Announcement: Grant Available to Attend Library Information Technology Association National Forum October 2007 USA

Sponsor: Mrs. Grace Hope Hill, in Memory of Professor Errol Gaston Hill

Conference Theme:

  • Technology with Altitude: 10 Years of the LITA National Forum
  • October 4-7, 2007, Denver Marriott City Center, Denver, Colorado, USA


The Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association, announces a grant to support and promote international participation at the 2007 LITA National Forum.

The grant provides up to $2,500.00 US for a librarian currently living and working in the Caribbean, with preference given to a librarian from the Leeward Islands (especially from Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts) to attend the 2007 LITA National Forum in Denver, Colorado, October 4-7, 2007. The grant covers only airfare, hotel, registration, and currency conversion fees up to the grant total. The grantee is responsible for meals and other expenses not covered by the $2,500 grant. He or she will have opportunities to meet with the LITA leadership and members as well as attend the full forum.

To be eligible, an applicant must: (1) be living and working in the Caribbean; (2) hold citizenship other than U.S.; (3) have between five and fifteen years of work experience in a library or information setting; (4) have an interest in or experience with using, managing, or leading technology in a library or information setting; (5) understand English; (6) and not be a regular LITA Forum attendee.

Applications should be sent by e-mail to with subject line: LITA Grant.

The application must contain the following, submitted in English: name, work address and e-mail addresses, current job title, brief resume, a brief summary of experience working with technology in a library or information setting, and a 200 or fewer word statement about why you would like to attend the LITA Forum including an indication as to whether this is the first time you would be attending a LITA Forum.

Application deadline is 5:00 pm (EST) May 1, 2007.

For more information about the Forum, visit

Questions to or

Connecting 6 Arms Brew Pub

LITA’s Happy Hour at 6 Arms on 300 E. Pike Friday night was great! About 35 members showed up to network and discuss LITA activities and meetings here in Seattle. The brew pub is a cozy place with a wide selection of frothy, bubbly and hot stuff. And the place was hopping!

In conversation with Clara Ruttenberg, Systems Librarian in D.C., she said that Happy Hour was where she could quickly see her colleagues before the conference was underway. Though not on a LITA committee yet, she planned to volunteer for one soon. Mike Sainsbury from Greater Victoria Public Library and an enthusiastic participant on the LITA Membership Committee has lots of ideas for increasing LITA membership including looking into drafting IT support staff in libraries to join LITA.

Speaking of membership, Diane Bison, who is running for LITA VP told me that she feels that “there are many librarians in IT who are just not yet members of LITA” and we need to bring them into the fold. Her competitor for the VP position, Andrew Pace said he wants to explore making LITA more of a “technology consultant to ALA,” drawing on the expertise of LITA members.

You couldn’t miss Board Members past and present, many sporting those blue-glowing neon LITA pins which stood out in the dimly lit, noisy pub. Bonnie Postlethwaite, President, told me that members should keep an eye out for the Assessment and Research Task Force report. The report will soon be posted on the LITA website and comments from LITA members are requested. Mary Taylor, Executive Director, encouraged other members to come to future Happy Hours as they are excellent networking venue.

I couldn’t possibly recount all the conversations I had with fellow LITA members – you had to have been there…kudos go to Richard Kim who organized the event. But, he didn’t want to take all the praise. Richard credited Tito Sierra with the selection of the venue. Tito said 6 Arms was where he used to hang out when he worked for Thanks guys…and have a good conference!