Earlier this week I attended the Information Technology in Education (ITIE) 2014 Conference. It’s a biennial conference organized by the Evergreen Education Foundation (EEF) and its library partners in China. This year the conference was held in Changsha and the partnering library was Hunan Provincial library. The conference theme was Oral History in Libraries. Many rural school library projects funded by EEF in the past two years are oral history projects, where school librarians work with teachers and students to collect and document oral history. I was very fortunate to serve as a grant reviewer for these projects and was impressed by the diversity and depth displayed. I got to meet several of the grant awardees at the conference and learn about their project progress. How wonderful!
The conference invited two venerable scholars as keynote speakers – Dr. Don Ritchie, US Senate Historian, and Dr. Weiming Tu, a renowned ethicist, Professor of Philosophy and founding Dean of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. Their enlightening talks about oral history research and spiritual humanism (respectively) introduced me to philosophies and paradigms I knew very little about. I also made connections with a number of librarians and library directors from China. I had great conversations with them and learned a lot about their visions and ideas regarding library development in China. The Director of Guangzhou City Library (a very large metropolitan public library), from the photo below, was a trail-blazer and he even hired an American librarian to work in the “services for diverse populations department”. Many exciting things are happening in the library arena in China.
My own presentation, “Digital storytelling in the Library”, also went pretty well. I became interested in this topic when exploring how to use digital storytelling as a means to enhance health literacy. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to work on this topic. I find Daniel Pink’s book “A whole new mind” quite inspiring when it comes to the power of storytelling. I recommended it in my presentation, but I don’t know if it has been translated into Chinese. I hope Yes!