As the Washington Library Association conference migrates across the state, this year we all drove to Wenatchee. If you’ve never heard of Wenatchee, you are not alone. To give you a mental map: drive east from Seattle up and over the mountains. When you find yourself surrounded by apple and cherry trees, stop.
I arrived in Wenatchee on a Thursday morning with some tech toys and a mission. As one of Dr. Chow’s INFO 298 (Special Studies) students last semester, I had the opportunity to present with him at a pre-conference workshop on Thursday afternoon. We spent the Fall 2022 semester building the Library Technology Integration (LTI) Lab which has the purpose of “bringing technology and digital literacy resources into libraries to create equitable access for current and future generations.” For the purpose of this conference, it meant that we brought several tech toys– I mean, tools– for attendees to play with– I mean, learn about.
Our workshop started with a presentation by Dr. Chow. Through the beauty of Zoom, the entire LTI Lab team was able to attend. Rosine Bingol, Tyler Livy, and Samantha Barnthouse joined us online for the workshop and played an important role in showing people around in virtual reality.
Most of the workshop was spent demonstrating and allowing attendees to interact with the tech themselves. Some of the tech we showcased included:
This is a website where users can create rooms that are cross-platform compatible for collaboration and social gathering. Our rooms included Dr. Chow’s CV room, the Banned & Controversial Gallery, the iSchool’s room, among others. Rosine, Tyler, and Samantha logged in from many miles away in California to answer questions and act as tour guides for attendees. Using cell phones or laptops, attendees could hop from room to room exploring and interacting with other people and items in the rooms.
Holograms on cell phones
Using YouTube and a plastic pyramid, it is easy to watch floating jellyfish or iSchool staff in hologram form. The hologram videos are easy to create in either PowerPoint or Google Slides. This item is inexpensive and a great way to engage students and patrons in technology.
MetaQuest 2 and HoloLens 2 devices
The best part of the MetaQuest 2 is watching people dance with an invisible robot, which is not at all silly. A bit on the pricey side, these immersive experiences can take users around the world or tap into their creativity. Don’t let the fact that these folks are sitting quietly in chairs deceive you. We shared 360 degree videos of flying over a volcano, swimming with sharks, and flying over a canyon on a zipline with them. One headset, many adventures!
I have no pictures, however, of the drones. We may or may not have flown the drones into the walls. One of those drones may or may not have been Dr. Chow’s (shhhh). I just incorporated that into my presentation as a demonstration of how sturdy they are. Personally, I have flown drones into brick walls and attacked bushes with them during my time in INFO 298 with Dr. Chow. All in the name of research, of course.
About Dr. Chow: The man is everywhere all the time. Everywhere I go in the library world, I come across people who have met him. This means he is traveling all over the world much of the time. My anxiety was decently high for this conference as he was flying from Spain to California on Wednesday, then from California to Seattle Thursday morning, and finally driving from Seattle to Wenatchee for our early afternoon pre-conference workshop. I had nightmares about airline delays and filling the three-hour workshop by showing attendees my large stash of memes on my phone. Thankfully, that was not necessary. Dr. Chow did what I would not have been able to do – sound intelligent, coherent, and persuasive on very little sleep!
The LTI Lab team (Samantha, Rosine, and Tyler) put in an enormous amount of prep work for this event and provided support to all of us at the workshop in real time. Working with Dr. Chow in this capacity has been an eye-opening experience. I have seen the behind-the-scenes work that goes into conference sessions and how important it is to have a strong support team. One of the benefits of this experience was to learn firsthand about presenting on and advocating for ways to improve libraries in the 21st century to address the digital divide and equity in libraries.
Also, I learned that maybe I should work on my presentation backup plans. I am thinking either juggling or interpretive dance.
Thanks to ALASC’s 2023 Events Co-Coordinator Irene Miller for writing about her experience! Have a conference experience you want to share? Let us know!