Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reflections from CALICon19: Two Best Sessions

Looking out over downtown Columbia, SC #CALICon19

Some talk has been floating around in My Communities for covering conferences that may relate to TS, OBS and even CS members. There is understandably a lot of variation in many member job duties and with that plenty of room for overlap of these SIS individuals. Coming from an I.T. department position before my current role this makes total sense, and I can see the benefit to many of us not only having backgrounds in computer science and other technical fields, but also the advantages to continuing education in those areas as library professionals. This is where CALICon comes in.

With Web Developer Leslie Grove at CALICon19
Many of us are familiar at least in some way with CALI the organization (a.k.a. Computer Assisted Legal Instruction). They provide our law students with extremely helpful study aids, plus have resources that help faculty members with all sorts of things. Librarians fit into this section of folks CALI has resources for too. I first heard of CALICon a few years ago when my friend and web developing office-mate Leslie flew to Denver, CO to co-present with our Information Technology Librarian Jason. Their talk titled "Enough to be Dangerous: 00000110 Things Every Beginner Needs to Know about Coding", gave a snapshot of the main programming language fundamentals to the varied CALICon audience. What a neat conference I thought at the time. I had only been to either Drupal Camps full of I.T. guys or state librarian conferences which were full-on librarian attendees, and the idea of a conference that brought librarians, tech-heads and faculty together sounded... well downright phenomenal!

A couple years later I lucked into CALICon coming to Atlanta. Being in Athens, GA it was a short drive. I presented on infographics, and realized I was right - CALICon is pretty amazing. The unique mixture of attendee's makes for interesting discussion and highly useful content that naturally lends itself to collaborative relationships. In true tech-event fashion CALICon live streams all of the sessions and at hyper-speed uploads them all for streaming on YouTube. So, if you have never been to CALICon before, I encourage you to consider it next year. One only has to browse the CALICon playlists of session videos to wonder why everyone doesn't attend.

This brings me to my top 2 sessions from #CALICon19 which I felt would be most useful to  TechScans followers:
  • Leveraging eResources for Affordable Course Materials - Mary and Lisa were excellent presenters who didn't just share something cool (maybe their topic wasn't the flashiest on the schedule) but certainly brought one of the more relevant sessions for me throughout CALICon's two-day whirlwind. What institution isn't interested in saving money for their law students? What library doesn't grapple with ways to make things more cost-effective? This session not only discussed measures that would greatly benefit students but also ideas for faculty members who want to publish their own course content. In this session I learned about (CALI actually uses them to publish their books! SUPER affordable, 600+ page books for around $25 shipped!), Powernotes, H20 open casebook platform and more. The presenters even shared strategies for liaising with your registrar office and faculty members to offer alternatives before or alongside booklists, and how they reviewed their own booklists from past semesters to locate and suggest cost-saving measures for specific courses. 
John Presents at CALICon19
  • Automating Processing and Intake in the Institutional Repository with Python - Wow, just wow is all I could say after this session. Most of us deal with our IR in some form or another. As my own role with our Digital Commons site continues to increase, I went into this session with high hopes and seated next to our law school web developer (the office-mate mentioned before), and we were not disappointed. If you have ever manually entered items into your own IR one at a time as I typically do, you smile at the prospect of batch loading. With a large project of archiving old photos in our own IR looming I have been postponing preparing my own spreadsheets - I know it will be tedious and a worm hole of a project. After John's session I am SO glad I waited. My colleague, the coding goddess, and I sat in awe of the automation John was sharing. I was pleasantly rejuvenated leaving the session with a collaborative game plan which I am happy to say we are already making great progress on. Although the presenter's project was with Law Journals and pulling content from PDF's, our own is actually much simpler since we are pulling titles, image URLs and (hopefully) basic descriptions. By far this session left me feeling the most excited about returning to work with something we could instantly put to use.
Click on the session hyperlinked titles for slides and streaming video. Did you attend CALICon too? What were your favorite sessions or biggest takeaways? Find other sessions from CALICon 2019, or past years in CALIorg's YouTube Playlists.

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