Online MLA Schedule

I am sure you are all wondering why on Earth I am fussing so much with my MLA schedule and writing about the online program planner.  Well this MLA I am a little busier than others.  I am the soon to be the Section Chair for MIS, Co-chair of the NPC 2012, and I am an incoming MLA Board member.  All of it is doable, but I need a damn good schedule to keep my head on straight.

My entire personal life revolves around Google Calendar.  EVERYTHING is on it and it can be seen online by me or my husband and is synced to our smartphones.  So when I am sitting at my son’s baseball practice and the coach tells us  a game’s location and time has changed, I can easily pull up the calendar on my phone and make the edits.  The changes are saved on Google itself not on my phone.  That is important because the information is instantly updated and can be viewed on my husband’s phone or computer.  

Since my personal life is organized by Google Calendar it is natural that I would like my library life to be as well.  The online program planner in is a good idea, but it fails on a lot of common tasks that I wonder if it was tested before it went live.  There are many more events at MLA than those that are on the Official Program.  People also like to program hop.  Attend one program to see a specific speaker then dart out to see another speaker at another program scheduled at the same time.  Unfortunately you cannot add your own events to the online planner, nor can you select certain speakers to watch within programs for purpose of hopping. 

At first I thought I conquered this problem.  I uploaded my online planner to Google Calendar with the intention of adding the new programs into my calendar.  At first glance this seems to have worked but as I tried to sync to my iPhone and give the link to my schedule to friends, flaws started to appear.

The online planner imports into Google Calendar as a totally separate calendar AND doesn’t allow you to edit that calendar. (It is hard to describe so look at the photos I link to as visual references.)  If you look at this pictureyou can see that my Google Calendar and the events (that aren’t in the Official Program) I added are listed in green under my Krafty Librarian account.  The events in purple are the events that imported from the online planner under my online planner account kraftm.  The purple events are listed as “other calendars” and are not “owned” my the Krafty Librarian account, therefore I can’t alter them. 

Why is this a big deal?  Well if you sync your calendar to your smartphone (which many people do) then your phone has problems picking up your “other calendar” because it is not owned by you.  Therefore you don’t see those events in purple on your smartphone.  Also, if you are like me and need the phone to buzz you 10 min. prior to remind you of an event, you won’t get that reminder buzz.

There were a lot choice words that went through my brain when I discovered this.  However, I found out a way to add the purple events to my “owned” calendar.  Look at this picture.  If you click on the time of the purple entry you get a dialogue box with the link “copy to my calendar.” Doing that will add that event to your “owned” calendar.  Yippeee!  Now for the downside.  I haven’t figured out how you can do this en masse, the only way I have found that works is clicking on each event individually.  Yeah no more yippee.  But the process works.  If you look at this picture, you can see that I was able to successfully add all of my purple events to my “owned” calendar.

By doing all of that my calendar now syncs nicely with my phone.

However, this is a big pain in the but.  I would have given up long ago if it weren’t for how crazy busy I will be and my obession with scheduling and syncing everything through Google and my phone. 

Additionally, one of the biggest features of the MLA online planner is that your friends are able to see your schedule.  This is very helpful if you are trying to meet up with somebody.  For example Nikki Detmar plans to do some geocaching while at MLA. I have been interested in doing this because I think my boys might like it.  So tweeted back that I would be interested in going with her and she said she would check my schedule on the online planner.  Ooops, that totally isn’t going to work.  If you look at my schedule on MLA’s online planner it appears that I am much more available than I really am.  

I realize my example was not exactly a work related example, it was scheduling fun at the conference.  But all work and no fun makes Krafty a very dull girl.  Plus it was a very good example of how the online planner’s inability to add other events really makes the sharing part of it pointless.  Why am I going to share a schedule that isn’t correct?  So now I have gone into Google grabbed the URL to share my calendar so that I can post it on Twitter, my Facebook, here on my blog, and Crowdvine.   

When the online program planner first became live, it was never my intention to devote any more attention to it other than to say, “Hey it is live.”  However, I have to believe that I am not the only person out there who is struggling with the thing trying to add events, trying to get it to sync correctly, and trying display it properly so that easier to schedule a few fun or meeting related things in between MLA events.  I write this post so that others can benefit from my trials with the product.  Good luck, and next year I cross my fingers that my only post about the online planner will be, “Hey it is live.”

Must Know Twitter Tips for MLA

Eric Rumsey recently RT’d on Twitter “11 Must Know Tips and Tricks for Twitter.”  I have been on Twitter for a while and I learned a lot of things from this article.  Some of the things on the article are more organizations interested in the impact of their tweets and metrics of those who follow or unfollow (good if you are running a library account).  There were a few other tips that are good for individual Twitterers like:

  • Advance Search on TweetDeck (right up librarian searchy mentalities)
  • Tweetcaster for Android users
  • Share Flickr photos on Twitter using Fick to Twitt
  • Find trending topics
  • Find deals/coupons on Twitter
  • Browse your Twitter friends

This list, plus the fact that MLA is only a week away, gave me the idea to come up with a few “must know” Twitter tips for MLA people.

Check your Settings!!

The most common questions I get from people are: “Why aren’t my tweets showing up in the hashtag stream?” “Why didn’t you see my tweet?”  The reason is most likely because you checked the privacy box, which makes your tweets only viewable to people who follow you.  The privacy box is a great way to keep your tweets private, but if you keep it checked you aren’t going to be able to effectively participate in the #mlanet11 discussions because we won’t be able to see your tweets!

Consider a third party Twitter application

Twitter page itself can be a little limited, in fact most of the things that we all know and associate with Twitter like #hashtags and @’s (replying to somebody like @krafty), were created and adopted by users, not Twitter.  I feel Twitter has been slow to exploit these helpful symbols and functions and their “new and improved” site still does a poor job of dealing with them.  TweetDeck and HootSuite do a MUCH better job.  TweetDeck and HootSuite at first blush look intimidating with its multiple column format.  But once you get used to it, it is extremely useful and easy to follow.  You can set a column just to be following tweets with the #mlanet11 hashtag.  TweetDeck is an app that is installed on a computer or your smartphone.  Hootsuite is hosted on the web, making installation on the computer unnecessary.  Hootsuite does have an iPhone app as well.  I primarily use TweetDeck but I also have a Hootsuite account so I can check tweets (without going to the crummy Twitter site) on computers other than my own. 

Take a look here to see some of my columns on TweetDeck and how I can monitor All Friends, Mentions (people who @ or RT me), and #mlanet11.

Know and use the hashtags

Your tweets won’t get picked up and seen as easily (thus limiting your conversation) if you forget to use the hashtags.  The hastag for the conference is #mlanet11.  Others you might be interested in are: #mlattt (MLA Tech Trends program) and #medlibs (tweets of interest to medical librarians). 

*If anybody has any other hashtags that are used a lot in the medical library world or for this conference, please list them in the comments. 

It may get a little tiring to constantly remember to use the hashtag, this is where a third party Twitter app may come in handy.  I know in TweetDeck if you click on the # symbol just below the text box, you can select and use a recent hashtag for your tweet instead of typing it out each time.  This is also possible on TweetDeck’s iPhone app.   Now you have to have used the hashtag a few times for it to get in the list but once you do, it is there and it is a lot easier to tap or click on it rather than typing it out each time.

Observe and experiment EARLY

If you haven’t signed up with Twitter but plan to tweet at the conference, or at least lurk on Twitter and view the conference tweets, then start early.  It isn’t hard to tweet, but you will find you get more comfortable participating by watching and responding to people before the conference starts.  Use this week to find your twitter legs.  It takes some practice getting used to sending messages in under 140 characters (including the hashtag).  If you use this time to practice reading and sending out some tweets you will feel a little more comfortable about participating during the conference.  Don’t worry if you make mistakes, many librarians on the Twittersphere are more than willing to help you out and get you in the tweeting scheme of things in no time. 

I can’t tell you how you will use Twitter.  Only through observation and experimentation will you begin to understand how it can fit in your life.  It is an evolutionary communication process (see the picture below).  I don’t mean to say that Twitter is the next step up on the communicating evolutionary train.  I mean to communicate effectively within Twitter, it is a process that you evolve within.  For example you will find it hard to state things in less than 140 characters (everybody does at first) and you might send multiple tweets to get your point across.  Eventually you will learn and your tweets will evolve to where you are able to communicate a lot of things in 140 characters.

What stage are you in?

Have Fun!

This is probably the most important tip.  Use the conference as a perfect opportunity to try out a new tool in a fun way.  Remember for those of you who took the MLA Twitter Tutorial, you get a free drink ticket for the TweetUp. That is what I call fun.

Hungry at MLA?

I love food so I always enjoy reading through the LAC restaurant guide.  In addition to the restaurant guide the LAC created a Google Map listing the spots in the guide

So while your drooling perusing through the guide, you can hop on to the Google Map and check out its location and read any reviews.

Don’t forget to check out the post “What’s on Tap” by Melissa Rethlefsen on the local brew pubs around Minneapolis and the Convention Center.

Tweeting at MLA

The MLA’11 folks have big plans for Twitter this year.  At Annual Conference Twitter will be used to help create discussion, to connect with colleagues, and to facilitate in-person meetings. MLA’s “Rethink Conversations” process will offer display monitors that are strategically placed around the convention center so that attendees can watch and respond to live conversations.  The committee is even hosting three specific ReThink Conversations Sunday-Tuesday 10:00-10:30am (following the Presidential Address, Doe Lecture, and MLA ’12 Invitation). 

Tweets can be made using a mobile device, laptop, or a computer in the Internet Café.   In order to get to know your fellow Twitteres (since Twitter usernames do not always reveal the identity of tweet authors) there will be a “Tweetup” event on Tuesday, May 17th, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  At a Tweetup, you can meet other MLA Twitteres in person.

New to Twitter? Not a problem. A special Twitter Tutorial has been created to help get you started. Attendees (Twitter newbies or old pros) who complete the MLA-sponsored Twitter tutorialby April 29th will receive a free drink ticket at the Tweetup. Even if you are not new to Twitter, complete the tutorial and get a free drink!

You must complete the tutorial by the end of April 29th.

The tutorial is pretty straight forward.  But if you have questions you can email the MLA Twitter Tutorial folks (listed in orange square on the first page of the tutorial). You can also follow me at krafty and direct message me if you have questions. 

DON’T FORGET!  If you want to participate in MLA’s twitter conversations:

  • Make sure you uncheck the “protect my tweets” box or else your tweets will not be seen by others tweeting at MLA.
  • Use the #mlanet11 hashtag so everbody can follow the tweets better


I find Twitter’s site clunky for tweeting a lot.  If you think it is too you might try TweetDeck on your laptop or smartphone to help manage the conversations.  TweetDeck is a third party application that you can install on your laptop or smartphone.  I like it a lot.  If you know you will be bouncing around on computers (using the Internet Cafe) to tweet, you might consider using Hootsuite.  It is a web based application that doesn’t need to be installed and structured similarly to TweetDeck.

MLA Online Program Planner is Available

The new online program planner for the annual meeting is available.  For the most part I like it.  The color coding helps a lot with browsing.  I also like the concept of seeing what programs your friends are attending and connecting the planner through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn.  The planner imports into Google Calendar very nicely.  I did not test it the iCal/iPhone or Outlook import, so I don’t know how well it does for those programs. 

The one thing I do not like is the planner’s inability to add events/meetings to my personal calendar.  There are several things not on program planner that I need to add, such as my meetings as an incoming Board member, staffing the 2012 meeting booth, meetings with people, lunches, dinners, vendor events, etc.  Thankfully, Melissa tweeted that you can import your program planner’s information into Google then add the “other” events within Google.  That is good to know.  But if the whole idea is to make the program more social and to let peple see where you are and what you are doing (perhaps they want to schedule a time to meet) then the ability to add other meetings to the planner is essential.  If you looked at me in the official program planner you wouldn’t know that I am going to be in a meeting for part of Thursday and all day Friday.

**Update (4/20/11)
I wanted to update you about two things that people have emailed me about.

  1. You cannot choose multiple programs to program hop.  In other words if you want to see speaker A who speaks from 3:00-3:15 during a section program (that lasts from 3:00-4:30) and then want to quickly dash to another program (also lasting from 3:00-4:30) to listen to speaker B who is speaking from 3:20-3:35, you can’t do that on the online program planner.  You will have to add that stuff after you uploaded to Google.
  2. Importing your online program planner to Google Calendar, iCal/iPhone, or Outlook is NOT obvious.  It is nicely hidden.  You must click on My Profile and options to download should be listed below the Facebook “Like” thumb and Twitter icon and just above the pictures of My Friends. 

I hope this helps people.  I also hope that next year we can make changes to the online program planner, if we could add our own items and program hop, it would be much better than the old online program planner.

MLA 2011: Video, Schedule, etc

Check out the new video for MLA 2011 (YouTube). Rethink. Great job Bart!

This is a picture of my rough schedule for this meeting…

programplanner by mak1173

I seriously need the online program planner to be live. There are lot of great programs I want to attend (including Top Tech Trends V #mlattt).  I am also a part of the 2012 NPC and a newly elected member of the MLA Board, so my schedule is filling up fast.

So far, this is the best way I have come up with planning schedule at my MLA until the online program planner is available. It seems each year I need to map my meeting out earlier and earlier so that I make sure that my committed obligations don’t overlap.  In the past I used to imput all meetings, programs, events, etc. into Google calendar (synced to my iPhone).  I could easily look at where I needed to be and my phone would buzz 10 min. prior to remind me. 

It is a bit tedious to set up since in the past the online program planner didn’t sync to iPhones or something like Google Calendar.  Yet once everything is in, it is quite helpful to have.  But, I am wondering if there isn’t a better way to do it and if somebody out there has a better idea.  What do you use to schedule your MLA activities?  Are you old school like my photo, highlighting events and penciling things in the squares?  Or do you have a nifty way to sync everything to your smartphone?  Please share.

MLA 2011: Early Registration Deadline, Hilton Rooms, and Following Online

Don’t forget the deadline to take advantage of the Early Registration discount for the annual meeting ends after April 13th.  On April 14th the price goes up considerably, so take advantage of the opportunity and register now. 

If you have already registered and you are planning on attending you better get a room fast.  The Hilton is comepletely out of rooms, leaving the Hyatt as your hotel option

If you are going there a lot of online resources to help connect you with others:

Now if you are bit like me and look this list and think, wow those are a lot of places to find out about MLA. I don’t have time to look at every site.  Never Fear, use a feed reader (that is why I included the feeds for these sites) to group all of these things together.  That way you go to one place to see updates from all of these sites. 

I use Netvibes to gather feeds, take a look at my screenshot.  On the left hand side I created a tab for Annual Meeting Info, underneath are all of the feeds I subscribe to for the meeting.  In the main frame, all of the feeds are displayed for me to read.  Take a look at the icons underneath More than 2 days ago, you will notice they are different.  That shows you where the feed is coming from.  As you can see there are multiple icons meaning that my multiple feeds are all in the main frame available to read.  Easy peasy.

If I want to share my feeds I simply hover my mouse over thet title and a curved arrow, clock, and double arrow are displayed. (On the screenshot look at the Nicollet Mall article, listed third below More than 2 days ago.)  The curved arrow allows you to share that “article” via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.

So not only are you able to read about what is going on but you can participate and continue the discussion by commenting on events.

Hurry up register, get your hotel room, and set up your feeds.  If you can’t make to Minneapolis this year we will miss you.  I highly recommend you registering for the e-conference (only $100 if you register before May 16th) and follow events via the feeds.

Be a Star Behind the Camera

MLA is looking for people who are interested and willing to help video the conference. If you are interested take a look at Max Anderson’s call for videographers.

(reprinted from Medlib-l)

Are you handy with a handycam? Do you like technology? Do you yearn for a public outlet from which you can espouse the glories of the MLA conference 2011 in Minneapolis?

Why not apply to be an official videographer for MLA ’11? Official conference videographers earn 3 AHIP points and learn some new skills along the way. 

Last year the videographers took 100’s of videos of section programming.

This year, we will focus more on casual conversations in the hallways, out at dinner, by a giant cherry sculpture, or wherever! (If you are not familiar with Minneapolis, there is a sculpture park and one of the sculptures is a cherry on a spoon.)

 Applications will be accepted until 4 pm CT April 22nd, 2011. Official videographers will be announced April 29th, 2011.  Apply here:

Diversity at Conferences?

Sarah Milstein is TechWeb’s General Manager, Co-Chair for Web 2.0 Expo and a tech writer.  In a recent post on radar O’Reilly she writes, “Would I attend my own conference? Why conferences need more diversity.”

Sarah specifically mentions technology conferences where the slate is heavily slanted with men.  She points to popular conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt’s NY 2010 show and the Web 2.0 Summit where 10% or less of the speakers were women.  This is no surprise to Sarah, she says “It’s well-documented that women are underrepresented in the tech sector.” 

As a techie librarian who responsible for some of the section programs for this year’s annual meeting and as a co-chair for the 2012 meeting, Sarah has me wondering about MLA and other library conferences.  Are we diverse enough?

The library world has more women than men, and I like to think that we try and think about physical diversity (women, men, cultural, ethnic, etc.).  But are we providing diverse enough speakers regarding their library background (hospital, academic, special medical, government, etc.)?  Do we provide enough diversity in the program or is it too tech heavy, consumer health heavy, or reference heavy? 

Since I am librarian who likes to work with technology, I tend to focus and attend tech programs, but I do have other interests and I realize there are other librarians who are not as interested in technology.

So in your opinion do medical library conferences (MLA, regional, local) have diverse topics and speakers, or are we trotting out the same people with the same topics?  If you think we could be more diverse, then what are you looking for and in what ways can you think we can accomplish this? Let me know.

MLA Annual Meeting Reminder

Don’t forget to register for the MLA’11 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN before April 13th to take advantage of the early registration discount. 

As a one of the section programmers I can tell you that there are a lot of great programs on a fairly wide variety of topics.  I always seem to come back from the annual meetings with several things that I can use at my work.  Some things seeem to be tailor made and fit perfectly into my situation, while others are interesting ideas that with some creative tweeking could work well too.

While I would love to see you at the meeting, I know that getting the money to attend a meeting can be difficult.  That is why I encourage everybody who is unable to attend the meeting in person to register to attend virtually through the e-Conference (Package D).  Last year was the first time MLA offered e-Conference registration and at the time I was a little unsure of what an e-Conference attendee would get.

If you register as an e-Conference attendee you will have online access to audio recordings of most of the meeting sessions with related visuals, video of selected plenary sessions and posters. 

To get an idea of what all that entails, I looked what things were/are available to e-Conference attendees (and other attendees) online. 

If you phyically attended the conference or virtually attended you can access videos, MP3, PDF, or slides for the following things:

  • Plenary Sessions I, II, III
  • NLM Update
  • NPC Program Session
  • MLA Business Meeting I, II
  • Open Forums: Informal Publication Methods, Interviewing Tips & Techniques/Branding, MLA Librarians without Borders Issues
  • Section Programs: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
  • Lightning Poster Sessions

I counted it and there over 40 audio or video downloads available for the 2010 meeting.  Based off of what is online from 2010, I am pretty sure if you spend $100 for the e-Conference package for 2011, you will get your money’s worth.

If you are attending the conference in person, stop and say hi to me at MLA 2012 booth.  But if the 2011 meeting is not in the cards this year, consider attending virtually.