Evergreen Conference 2015

Another annual conference has come and gone.  2015’s seemed short.  It wasn’t, in fact, but the time seemed to go quickly.   I admit I’m not as good a traveler as I once was.  Part is due to age, and part is routine.  I always wake up the same time of day.  Even daylight savings causes me difficulty adjusting.  Flying to a different coast and telling my body to adjust three hours is nearly impossible.  Then five days later I do it in reverse.  In between I’ve run nonstop for days on end.  I interact with people and burn every ounce of introvert energy I have.  I also run on little sleep, staying up late and getting up early.  And it’s worth it.  By the time I drag home I feel a bit like Toshira MIfune in Yojimbo, crawling exhausted and battered under the house hoping to just get away from everything and recuperate.

But, I do it each year because it’s worth it.  This year I taught a half day SQL workshop, I served on a panel welcoming new folks to the Evergreen community and I did a presentation on extending data sources in the reporter.  You can see all that from the conference schedule.  But it’s far more than that.  What I gain isn’t entries on a vita.  Even a few years ago attendees of my SQL and Reporter workshop would have been staff with very tech oriented roles.  The sessions were full with 20+ people in each and they were librarians.  Yes, tech curious but by no means systems administrators – traditional librarians who want to dig deeper and deeper into the power that Evergreen can provide.  I like to think I helped make some materials more accessible to them and the fact that this new power user class is growing in the community is a wonderful thing.  That additional depth and breadth in the community is a healthy thing.  It means that the idea of a tech curious librarian is increasingly irrelevant.  Every year that I use a phrase like that it sounds sillier and sillier and I’m happy for that.

And to paraphrase Billy Shakespeare, the community is the thing.   Attending the reporting interest group I talked about the need for new core reporting features with staff from all over the country (and world), about the need for existing and new libraries.  I think we need to bring back core reports into Evergreen as something that is expanded and tested with each version and it’s something I hope to work on this year, starting with going through the ones that were developed for 1.6 and updating them.  I talked with folks from Indiana about homebound services and something vaguely (but not quite) like plans were made. But talking is a starting point.  I talked about philosophies and their practical import.

Many bad jokes were made (by me) and a few good ones (not by me).  We compared war stories, planned for the future, discussed what ifs and shared discussions about the meaning of life, or at least governmental ethical obligations and spending regulations.  Talking to other consortiums is always illuminating.  So is playing board games late into the night (I won Stone Age but it was a bit unfair since most of the others hadn’t played it before).

I left after three years on the Oversight Board having completed a three year tour of duty.  Several folks expressed surprise at my tour ending.  Three years go quickly.  A few also asked why I didn’t run again.  The truth is that we instituted the format of rotating members off the board so that it wouldn’t become stagnant.  Our community is large and diverse.  I want to let new voices in.  I may run again in a year or two.  I may not be able to vote but I’m still around and I promised to come in and sit in on meetings when time allows.  I also agreed to remain on the merchandising committee and to assist the board with some special issues if they come up.

I’m also making some changes to the Hack-A-Way.  Submissions are now open for 2015 and will remain open until June 19th.  However, we are moving to an annual model for the Hack-A-Way.  With it now in it’s fourth year it’s become an institution.  As the kickstarter of it I still think of it as a scrappy little thing that has to prove itself so seeing folks planning far in advance and competing to host it surprises me.  But, it shouldn’t.  I myself have pointed out the good work that has come out of it each year.  So, a year wraps up and I head home to recuperate.

I had to leave before the developer update was done but I know the gist already.  The new staff client looks amazing.  I would be tempted to say that we should do a second (unusual) upgrade in 2015 but with so many other projects on our plate it’s probably not in our stars.  And maybe it’s best to just go over to the new staff client all at once anyway.  The new infrastructure also opens a lot of new doors I think.  But all that is left behind as I fly back to the east coast and just worry about getting gate to gate.

Today I returned to work, jet lagged and exhausted.  But in a way the conference lingers, it’s effects reverberate in strange frequencies and conversations will continue on in IRC and by email for weeks and months to come.  Really, we think of the conference as a distinct moment in time but it’s more of a peak of a sine wave that goes on and on.