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Code4Lib 2011 Conference in Bloomington, IN

On February 7-10, Smithsonian Libraries web developer Joel Richard attended the Code4Lib conference held at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Sub-freezing weather aside, the conference was a hotbed of software developers, metadata experts and computer people getting together to discuss their latest work in developing software, websites, tools and technologies that support the mission of libraries across the country and the world!

Attended by 270 people, the conference is loosely organized into 20-minute presentations held every day on a variety of topics, voted on by the Code4Lib community, a dozen daily 5-minute "lightning talks" delivered at a rapid pace, and more in-depth breakout sessions held once a day. The conferences also offers attendees, especially #c4l11 Code4Lib 2011  on Twitpicthose who are new, a chance to get their feet wet at a "newcomers' dinner" hosted by a veteran (one of which was organized by Joel.)

The attendees to the conference ranged from leaders in the computers+library world (i.e. Diane Hillmann, the keynote speaker, Karen Coombs of OCLC, and Naomi Dushay of Stanford University Libraries) to catalogers and IT people working at small and large libraries and institutions around the country. Some attendees help in producing open-source products and come to the conference to present and share knowledge. Others attend to "sip from the fire hose" of information and to meet and connect with their fellow library IT and computer professionals.

The high points of the conference that have most immediate use to the Libraries are the variety of ways that Drupal is being used to develop (or re-develop) library websites and mobile-based library web applications and development of Digital Libraries using open-source tools and technologies. The knowledge gleaned from these presentations will be put to use in future development efforts at the Libraries.

When it comes to the types of mobile applications, many libraries are turning to web-based applications (or WebApps) to do their development. This helps insulate them from the increasing variety of platforms on which to program real applications (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc) and instead use more familiar languages for development (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, etc). Those presenting mobile applications were Josh Bishnoff of the University of Illinois, Jason Casden and Joyce Chapman of NCSU Libraries, Esme Cowles of UCSD, Cory Lown also of NCSU Libraries, and Shian Chang of Georgetown University. 

Drupal was discussed a fair bit at the conference, possibly due to the presence and friendly evangelism of Cary Gordon, a board member of the Drupal Association. He gave a great presentation on using Drupal 7 as a Rapid Application Tool for web development. Mentioned earlier Shian Chang described in a lightning talk how her group used Drupal to build their mobile library website. In one of the breakout sessions, Drupal's history and future were discussed with a group of 15 or so developers, some of which were already using Drupal and others who were just getting started or were considering it.

The most interesting Drupal-related talk was actually given at one of the pre-conference sessions that took place on Monday before the full conference started. A good 20-25 people discussed the Islandora project, which is a merging of the Fedora repository and the Drupal content management system. Islandora extends and replaces some functionality of Drupal to make it a powerful and flexible tool for developing your repository and associated website.

The Indiana University Library was the host for this year's Code4Lib and they did a remarkable job, most importantly with the live streaming of the conference for those who were unable to attend in person. The video archive of the conference can be found: here

One Comment

  1. Stefanie

    I think it is interesting to see how libraries are adjusting their services to keep up with the current trends in technology. Just recently my library has decided to have a twitter and facebook account. And now there are phone apps that the library can be used to increase services to their patrons.

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