Back and bigger than ever: Falvey Memorial Library showcases and celebrates technology at annual weeklong event
Back and bigger than ever, Falvey Memorial Library’s annual showcase and celebration of technology begins this week. Nicknamed the Tech Superfecta, this year’s event combines previous years’ events—the VUFind Summit, Code4Lib MidAtlantic Conference and Falvey’s own VUStuff IV—with the new, experimental VUClass day, a mini boot camp for beginning programmers and graphic designers. Together, the event cavalcade—brainchildren of Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight and Interim Library Director Darren Poley—provides an opportunity for participants to not only improve their tech skills but also define the future and function of the 21st-century library.
Dave Uspal, senior web specialist for library services and scholarly applications, along with Gina Duffy, library events and program coordinator, and members of the Digital Library team began almost a year in advance to furnish attendees from around the globe with a forum to exchange ideas in a socially engaging, interactive environment, taking advantage of the myriad of new event spaces now available in the Library. As Uspal says, “It always amazes me what we can accomplish on our shoestring budget: building five days of great content mostly through volunteer efforts of people involved.”
On Monday begins the two-day VuFind Summit, an event that will include detailed discussion of this summer’s unveiling of VuFind 2.1, and will provide opportunities to network with other VuFind users—both local and global via simulcast—via a daylong ‘hackfest.’ Benjamin Mosior, Jr., KLN systems administrator at Shippensburg University, will provide tips for advanced users on scaling VUFind and enhancing its performance, while those new to the open source discovery software, developed here at Falvey in 2007, will be given an opportunity to ‘start from scratch’ with clean-install tips and overviews of program features, options and templates. Uspal expects about two dozen attendees for this annual event.
On Wednesday the Library will batten down its hatches as the Code4Lib MidAtlantic participants—a group of self-professed online “hackers, designers, architects, curators, catalogers, artists and instigators”—arrive at Falvey for their annual meet-up. Celebrating their first anniversary, Uspal describes this ‘volunteer collective’ as a free-wheeling, spontaneous forum of dialogue sharing and projects. “Anyone who wishes to talk gets up and talks,” he says, and primarily covers the burgeoning field and potential of digital-humanities projects. Among the distinguished speakers attendees can look forward to, Chad Nelson, assistant professor at the University of Delaware, will share ideas on modern development best practices. And Falvey’s own Technology Development team members, Uspal and Library Technology Development Specialist Chris Hallberg, will give a primer on the popular responsive design software from Twitter: Bootstrap.
VuSTuff IV is next in the Superfecta lineup on Thursday, in its fourth annual platform of the “intersection of scholarship and digital projects.” This year’s roster features six fascinating projects, including Eastern University’s Info Services Librarian Mark Puterbaugh’s Reaching China: The Use of Social Media for an International Collaboration, and a presentation by Villanova’s Department of Political Science Associate Professor Markus Kreuzer, PhD: Going Beyond Blogs and Discussion Boards: Classroom Salon. Library Technology Development Specialist, and dime novel enthusiast, Demian Katz will share the building of DimeNovels.org, and Digital and Special Collections Curatorial Assistant Laura Bang will describe projects that involve using digital humanities in university classrooms.
Wrapping up the Superfecta on Friday—the first ever VUClass day, an idea Michael Foight developed to provide instruction for practical skills and applications, culled from artisans and technicians right here on Villanova’s campus. According to Foight, “High-quality, free, creative and innovative workshops provide the educated public with the chance to learn new skills, engage with subject and vocational experts, and become better and more fulfilled human beings. With experts willing to provide community service by sharing hard-won expertise freely with the community, the academic library becomes the facilitator of knowledge creation and sharing. The library becomes in effect the crossroads between space and expert availability.” Inaugural workshops will be A Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Design, conducted by Communication and Service Promotion Team Leader Joanne Quinn and A Basic Guide to Web Programming taught by Uspal, Katz, and the library’s newest Technology Development team team member, Chris Hallberg, who will focus on “Scratch,” a fascinating Lego-block approach to programming and a subject on which he recently completed his master’s thesis. Event planners expect a full house for these two events.
Coordinating a five day conference for hungry out-of-towners would not be possible without the unruffled hospitality—and humility—of Gina Duffy, who quickly credits Uspal for his “tenacity and positive attitude [that] makes planning these logistics as smooth as possible.”
If you’d like to attend any of these sessions, check the following link for space availability.