Our final project for my Introduction to Library and Information Professions class was to present a poster on the pros and cons of a subject of our choosing, along with creating a handout. Our poster was on NARA partnering with private firms to digitize records.
Poster sessions are basically science fairs for grownups, which, as a former science fair competitor, I love. This project game me a lot of experience with Google docs and Microsoft Publisher, two things I had not used a lot in the past. I am now a huge fan of Google docs for group collaboration, particularly since you can look through the revisionist history, can easily collaborate and have a listing of who contributed what (always helpful in a group project with individual evaluations). I have used Microsoft Publisher for brochures and newsletters in the past, but designing a whole poster using it was definitely pushing my boundaries of the software. I was extremely lucky in that one of my teammates is an artist and made fantastic design decisions that she could also implement.
Researching for the project was the most interesting course work I did all semester. I am very interested in archives and digitization (and talked my group into doing this topic), which made the information very relevant and useful for me. The wide variety of journal articles we found on the topic also sparked other fields of research interest, such as using digitization for preservation in other special collections, preserving material that is "born digital" and looking into how NARA will store and use the data once it is available for them to post online.
Presenting a poster seems like a much better way to present research than giving a lecture. The conversations you have with people bring up new items to look into and find possible collaborators for future work. For the shyer members of the group, it also allowed them to discuss their ideas in a less threatening way than a presentation.
Our poster was judged as one of the top 3 in the class and we are now looking to modify it slightly and submit it to conferences in the next year. Having the ability to present it to librarians in the field is tremendously exciting (and nerve-racking) and I hope that it becomes a reality.