coming late to the webinar game

me at a webinar looking like The Swedish Chef

So in the past month I’ve done something I swear I would never do. And I did it twice. I’m taking about webinars. I swore them off in 2008-ish when I did one that was an end-to-end hassle of software, hardware and personal communication. I felt underutilized and underpaid and definitely didn’t feel like I got my message across effectively. A lot has changed since then. Software has gotten better and I’ve gotten a bit better at working with whatever I’m given. Here’s a little rundown on the two events.

First talk was for NJLA, a little virtual keynote talk about Open Library. We used Adobe Connect software which was pretty straightforward to use even though it meant transferring my Keynote slides into PowerPoint. I got to give a talk, keep up with a chat window and answered questions afterwards. I thought it went well and I got to talk about Open Library to a lot of people without leaving my house. The talk is archived for NJLA members but otherwise not available online. Since I’ve been talking about Open Library a lot lately I’ve made a landing page for the various talks I gave.

The second talk was more complex as it was part of a multi-hour event called Library 2.016 with a subtopic called Privacy in the Digital Age. This one used Blackboard’s collaborate software which was a bit more of a hassle (could not use my presenter notes at all, had to read my talk from my laptop at home) but did allow for recording of the entire event so it could be played back, chatroom at all. My talk was short, twenty minutes, and then we had a brief Q&A session. The sponsor of the event, San Jose State University’s library school, made the odd choice of not making links to the recordings or the schedule of the event available to people who didn’t register. However, the link to the recording is a public link, so if you want to hear my talk, you can do that here. I’ve also put my notes and slides online in the usual place.

In both cases, the webinar format worked decently even if the software was a little clunky to get to know. Unsurprisingly, the trickiest issues were the human decisions that went into how to run the webinars, not the actual software or hardware. IU had a decent enough time and am going to consider maybe doing another webinar before another eight years pass. Big thanks to Allen McGinley and Steve Hargadon who made both events happen.

Big Talk From Small Libraries – free online conference Tuesday Feb 28th

I am doing a new thing this year. Well I’m doing a few new things overall, like learning ukulele, but one big thing professionally. I’ve decided to try to do a few webinars, both attending and presenting, to see how they go. In the past I’ve sort of skipped webinars on principle. I find the software difficult and it’s challenging for me to talk about good technology when using bad technology. I’m also just not that good at presenting to an unseen audience. However last year I was invited to do a lighting talk of a sort and I enjoyed it; it was even pretty low tech, using Skype to connect. There was a lot of back and forth on Twitter and good feedback/questions which was different from the last webinars I did several years ago where I wasn’t even sure people were tuning in at all. I’ve also noticed there have been a few one-day events that have gotten people talking that I might like to attend. So I’ve been exploring. Who knows, next thing you know I may start reading ebooks….

So, this is a long way of saying that I’ll be presenting with a bunch of other great librarians at the Nebraska Library Commission’s Big Talk for Small Libraries conference this Tuesday. You can see the schedule here (be aware it’s all in Central Time) and read the FAQ here. With eight speakers who are all people who work in small libraries, over 300 attendees, and a homegrown back channel, I think it will be an interesting day. Free as in beer. I think it will be a good time.