Friday, November 03, 2006

ILA Planning 2007

More than 80 Iowa Library Association leaders participated in the 2007 planning retreat, held on the Grinnell College campus today. The ILA, a primarily volunteer operated organization, includes 1406 librarians--public and private--from libraries across the state.

The primary purpose of the planning session is to prepare for the next conference. However, the planning retreat also provides an opportunity for the in-coming ILA president--in this case, Grinnell College librarian Sheryl Bissen--to introduce herself to the various committee and sub-division leaders. Sheryl used the occasion to pitch her theme for ILA 2007: Iowa's Libraries: Cultivating the Future.

Bissen's metaphor plays on the agricultural heritage of Iowa, while providing an opportunity to build on the enthusiasm for Web 2.0/Library 2.0 fostered by Michael Stephen's presentations at ILA 2006. The new president called upon librarians to use modern communication technologies to establish contact with Generation Y, also known as the Millennials, born between 1978 and 1998. The Millennials have no conscious memory of a world without the Internet, and have little patience with older forms of communication.

Bissen contends that if librarians fail to "cultivate" the Millennials, we'll lose their patronage permanently. Losing this younger generation will further exacerbate the problem of a rapidly aging population. Therefore, look for ILA 2007 to focus on the use of Web 2.0 to expand the appeal of Iowa's libraries to a more technologically sophisticated generation.

Expect ILA to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies into its communications with members, and anticipate pre-conference workshops and conference sessions which explore ways to reach out to the Millennials. For example, the Information Technology and Young Adult sub-divisions are seeking someone to run a day-long pre-conference workshop devoted to console games (e.g. PlayStations and/or XBox). Recommendations are welcome!

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