February 17, 2018

ER&L Celebrates A Decade, Launches “Designing for Digital” Event

Designing for Digital Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) has announced “Designing for Digital,” a two-day user experience (UX) conference on February 25 and 26, immediately following the 2015 annual ER&L conference at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, TX, held February 22–25. The new event builds on the success of the full UX Day launched last year at ER&L 2014, according to conference officials.

ER&L will celebrate its tenth anniversary in February, ER&L founder Bonnie Tijerina told LJ, and this is one example of how the annual conference continues to grow and adapt to trends in e-resources and digital services. “ER&L has always been a place to experiment and build ideas,” she said. “I think the changes to incorporate user experience, then a UX Day, and now a [two-day] conference reflect how we experiment and incubate new ideas at ER&L.”

When Tijerina launched ER&L a decade ago, e-resources-specific jobs were still relatively new to the field. “Those first couple of years involved feeling out ‘who is my community, who is part of my tribe, what do we have in common, how can we help each other solve common problems?’ ” she said.

In the ensuing years, the show has expanded to include topics such as ebooks, e-content preservation, vendor negotiations, management and leadership, print and electronic resource workflows, and discovery. During the upcoming three-day meeting, more than 120 presentations and workshops will be held within eight thematic tracks: managing e-resources and licensing; collection development and assessment; organizational strategies; external relationships (with vendors, consortia, partner libraries, etc.); user experience; scholarly communications; library as publisher; and emerging technologies and trends.

With the conversation around student and patron use of e-resources continuing to grow—and the number of UX-related presentation submissions to ER&L growing in tandem—the launch of Designing for Digital as an adjacent conference happened organically, Tijerina said. The introduction of UX Day in 2014 and now this new forum have attracted submissions “from people who, I think, may not have submitted to ER&L in the past,” she added. “For instance, we have some pretty extensive research [that will be presented] on mobile users in academic libraries and how students use mobile devices to do research. We haven’t had anything quite like that before.”

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ER&L 2015 will also introduce “Short Talks,” a ten-minute presentation format with five minutes for Q&A. For example, on Tuesday, February 24, attendees will have the option to sit in on “Short Talks: Budgets and Collections,” “Short Talks: PDA,” “Short Talks: Staffing and Organization,” among other sessions, each featuring three brief presentations related to a topic.

“What would happen in the past was that we would get a lot of great proposals—many more proposals than we had room for in our program—but a lot of them were really good,” Tijerina said. “So for the first time this year…when people submitted during our call for proposals they could submit a formal, 45-minute talk, or a short talk.” Not only did the format enable ER&L to accept more proposals in general, it enabled the inclusion of presentations that might otherwise have been considered slightly outside the conference’s scope, she added.

“They’re a little bit longer than a lightning talk, but they offer a quick burst of something interesting, or something a little new, or something that someone is starting to experiment with,” Tijerina said. “We’re going to have them across all of our session rooms in one time slot, and we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to move among rooms” if they want to sample short talks on multiple topics.

ER&L sessions range from “how-to” walkthroughs regarding specific resources, to case studies and white papers, to broader conversations about emerging trends. “There are a lot of sessions that are very hands-on, very much ‘this is how we made this better, or this is how we made this work,’ ” she said. “We also have panels and sessions…that aren’t so deeply in the weeds but help us take a step back…. People can go home with a skill, but we also want to ask ‘where are we, and are we going in the right direction?’ ” as a field. Judging by ER&L’s community voting process—which allows potential attendees to help choose which sessions will run at the show—the buzz is particularly high around sessions related to discovery.

The registration deadline for the upcoming conference is January 15, 2015. Interested parties who can’t make the trip to Austin will be able to check out a significant portion of the presentations by registering for a live online webcast version, featuring keynotes and multiple topic tracks each day.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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