It was a great week at the University at Albany, SUNY- the campus is very open and beautiful. New York librarians are kind, tech-forward and willing to engage in meaningful conversations about how to deliver library resources in new ways. I had the opportunity to meet librarians, directors, state officials, vendors and authors! Boopsie was dubbed on the underground conference circuit as being the “most popular” vendor- I’d like to think it’s because I was there. But, the reality is what Boopsie brings to the table is unique and disruptive in the academic world- a vendor that focuses exclusively on mobile apps for libraries with an academic-specific team. What could be cooler?
I had great conversations with many attendees. I was told how students viewed the library as a place to charge their phones. I heard about a couple of institutions that are pilot testing tablet rentals at their libraries, thus tech related to mobile devices was a top priority. I learned about libraries’ staff that had been severely cut who questioned how they were going to be able to deliver services to their thousands of students. Many New York students are on-the-go and working for part or most of the day- how were the libraries going to reach them? I also heard some fascinating cold weather stories (diving in ice cold water to extract a car and always carrying snowshoes- you know who you are) that convinced me that California is the place for me. 🙂
I heard about a range of technology solutions- from sophisticated responsive web sites to “our website is horrible” solutions. Many libraries were very interested in a mobile app solution, and knew they were a great idea for engaging students, but none had acted on it. I even spoke with a librarian who had recently attended an international library tech conference who fully understood the importance and how essential a mobile app is to students, but was having problems cutting through “red tape” at her university.
I began to ask myself the question, why? When students spend over 86% of their mobile device time in apps, and over 75% of students believe that technology helps them achieve academic success, how were the “higher ups” not understanding the importance? Time is of the essence with technology, and academic libraries seem to be getting more and more behind the times. I heard about the politics of various institutions, budget cuts and solutions that were “acceptable.” I encourage all readers of this article to check out a post I wrote about the current academic technology landscape and how a library mobile app can increase student engagement: read here; and another about how student engagement with library resources and retention rates go hand-in-hand: read here. These posts speak volumes.
I also really enjoyed the Publisher’s Playhouse event, which concluded the week-long conference. I had the chance to demo Boopsie’s new subscription service, Comics Plus: Library Edition, which is an online streaming service that provides libraries with access to thousands of digital graphic novels, comic books and manga at a per-checkout price with simultaneous circulation to virtually any mobile device, tablet or PC. It was our first time bringing it to a conference, and its reception was terrific!
And, other conference moments in pictures:
Vendors were given tickets to give to attendees so they could enter a raffle for door prizes. I thought this was a nice touch to reward the attendee for hearing the Boopsie spiel and encouraged more attendee engagement with vendors. 🙂
Some conference attendees during lunch.
Vendors, taken during non-peak hours, of course, as I was working during those times. 🙂
Art wall in one of the vendor rooms:
I am happy I was able to attend the Empire Collaborations Conference- I look forward to attending next year! I highly recommend this conference to NY area librarians and vendors alike, and a big shout out and thank you to Carol Anne for being so helpful!