I was at Internet Librarian International last week and now that the dust has settled and I have had time to tidy up my notes and reflect on them, I thought it would be a good idea to jot down my impressions of the event.

It was my first ILI and I found it very well put together, a good choice of presentations, but not too packed. Sometimes, at this kind of conference, you can feel like they are trying to be too many things. If like me, you have a very wide-ranging role, this should be an advantage. However, I often end up being pulled in all sorts of directions, trying to cover too many strands or sitting in workshops that have very little relevance to what I do.

I had none of this at ILI – it was nicely compact (250 delegates and approx 60 speakers split over 3 strands and 2 days) and, essentially, what it says on tin: a conference for library and information professionals who work (or want to work) on the web.

As you would expect in the current financial situation, many of the presentations discussed how to add or demonstrate value. Brian Kelly talked about using statistics from existing resources to get the information you need in order to evaluate and maximise impact. I really enjoyed Joy Palmer’s presentation, which complemented Brian’s extremely well by explaining the importance of understanding the benefits added by our services. According to Joy, it’s benefits, not features that matter to users and by talking to them we can discover where we add real value and use that information to market our services better.

Another effect of the economic climate seemed to be the many presentations that discussed re-using data in a direct or indirect way, e.g., web and phone applications that access catalogues and databases. I was very impressed with the Pivot viewer from Microsoft Live Labs, which allows you to explore large datasets dynamically. It has applications that would suit both our staff (manipulating information for decision making) and users (exploring library holdings).

Another strong theme was social media as an extension of (not an alternative to) what we already do. This was confirmed by the obvious shift from Twitter being a topic of discussion in presentations to becoming part of the conference infrastructure. The wifi connection at the venue was very poor, but many delegates circumvented the problem by tweeting from their phones instead of live blogging. Several speakers mentioned how the networking experience had begun by “bumping into others on Twitter”, instead of on the train or at the airport. Brian Kelly posted an interesting analysis of conference related tweets on his blog.

This links to another strong theme of the event: sharing, collaboration and partnerships. Many speakers were reporting on large collaborative projects that involved, not only library consortia, but also partnering with businesses. For example, the Gladsaxe Public Libraries (Denmark) have worked with the suppliers of their Library Management System to develop an app for iPhone and Android smartphones which enables users to search for books, make reservations and check charges on their devices.