I recently had the privilege of attending and exhibiting at the EDGE conference in Edinburgh and I have to say in the current climate of the austerity measures and other constraints facing the library sector in Scotland, how refreshing it was to be involved in a conference where there was so much optimism, innovative ideas and can do attitude. Liz McGettigan and the EDGE team certainly seem to understand the key issues facing the Scottish Library sector and were able to create a thought provoking conference agenda that gave some fantastic foresight into what other thought leaders are doing to survive the cuts and suggest innovative ways on enhancing services. With over 150 delegates attending and plenty of breakout sessions (not to mention Thursday night refreshments) it was great to have the opportunity to network with sector colleagues and gain a better understanding of the key issues they are focused on addressing.
The two days were packed with presentations covering key aspects of pushing the boundaries of the public sector delivery, some of my favourites were:
- Neil Wishart from Solus UK Ltd and Eric Grosshans held an informal open session over drinks at to explore how mobile technology can be utilised to improve the experience of the virtual and physical library user, showcasing how the Smart Phone can be used to interface with other hardware to bring efficiencies to the library service
- Christopher Platt came all the way from new York Public Library and presented on “The E-book Ecosystem: Where do Libraries Fit? As Libraries, publishers, and all parties in between are still feeling their way toward a happy e-book medium and with the library copy is just a click away from the retail version, Christopher asked the question “can the traditional model of sales to libraries hold”? He also discussed the new opportunities for promoting books through libraries and new ways to increase author visibility, making works more discoverable and available than ever before.
- Lester Madden, presented on Augmented Reality and we had the opportunity to witness some ideas of the future, giving an insight into how we can possibly use digital technology in the future to enhance many aspects of the library service, including increasing the borrows experience.
- And our own Karen Reece, delivered an insight into “Libraries and the Cloud”. With cloud computing transforming the way organisations operate, we looked at how will this affect libraries? Karen gave a thought provoking presentation on how cloud computing is the natural evolution of library technology, and not about throwing out the experience and rich data that has built up over time within the LMS.
All in all it was fantastic conference and one I look forward to attending again.