Posts tagged ‘Future of Libraries’
There is no shortage of continuing education opportunities for librarians. I think we naturally tend toward collaboration and harmony. Earlier this week, while many librarians were in Monterey, CA for Internet Librarian, I attended NJLA’s first Adult Services Forum. On the same day, David Lee King and Michael Porter launched their new video and multimedia collaboration project, Library 101. All three of these focus on something that I have been pondering a lot lately: how, why and in what format we provide services (to all our patrons). Those thoughts cannot be separated from my concern over the division that is created by the acceptance of technology in library service.
Let me start by saying that I suffer from a serious case of technolust. I really love having new technology at my fingertips! But I also have a fair amount of restraint and often will wait to purchase something until (almost) all the kinks are worked out. However, I know that, just from my family and friends, most people are not yet comfortable with a wide range of technologies. As a librarian, I feel that it is important for the library to be a safe and comfortable place to expose people to web 2.0 (and beyond) and new ways of doing things.
John Porcaro (JP) said during his presentation at the Adult Services Forum that he finds librarians are often ahead of the curve compared with other departments and professions when it comes to new technology. This is not the stereotype that people have of libraries and librarians. Just do a Google search on “libraries are dead”: 79,000 results! Not all these websites actually support that idea but some clearly do. The common thread is that unless we do something about the PERCEPTION of libraries, they will die. And isn’t that what we are ultimately fighting against? Both internal and external stereotypes of what libraries and librarians were, are and are going to be.
The Library 101 project looks at what we are doing and what we need to think about doing to stay relevant. And I’m all for that! With a fun music video (with lots of familiar faces in it!), thoughtful essays, and 101 resources and things to know (RTK), Library 101 gathers together all the stuff libraries have been doing and are currently trying to do. The Library 101 project also reminded me that I’m not the only one who thinks that being a librarian can be fun and wants to share that with the world.
But I worry about what I read and hear from some of our other colleagues. For instance, I’ve heard librarians complaining about the formats available in their libraries, forget about the wonder that is InterLibrary Loan (it might seem outdated, but get that item into the patron’s hands and they don’t care where you got it from!). I’ve also read blog posts and tweet that generally disregard traditional library service. For all of the the librarians pushing away from long-established services, there are just as many complaining about the move towards Web 2.0 in libraries.
Yes, it is important for libraries and librarians to be on social networks, Twitter, producing webcasts, providing text and im reference, etc. But I think it is equally important to remember why we are doing all of these things. We are providing a new medium for things we have always done. We can connect people to these new technologies, give them new skill sets, and ultimately, strengthen the connection to our libraries.
And we can hope that, in so doing, we change the public’s perception of libraries and librarians. But we all need to be working together and not undermining the traditional work we still do, that is still overwhelmingly appreciated by the people we serve. There can be a balance to using new technology to promote, support and enhance traditional, as well as new, programming and resources.
by Karen Klapperstuck
Pete’s last piece on future issues reminded me to post my summary from an intriguing talk I heard in late October ’08 while at the ASIS&T conference in Columbus Ohio, I was delighted that one of the plenary speakers was Genevieve Bell, an ethnographer, who is a Senior Principal Engineer and Director of User Experience with Intel’s Digital Home Group.
In her charming Australian accent, she promised to give a provocation rather than a speech. See what you think of her ideas.
She posed the questions: “What comes next for Web? For the information/knowledge economy?” Here are a few of her predictions/observations:
- The Net has gone “feral,” now gone well beyond the PC and laptop – to cell phones, TVs, GPS, game consoles, embedded devices with IP backbones. Some people will never encounter the Web on a PC, but through consumer goods, smart printers, etc. Web usage models will continue to change shape – more transactions, but much less surfing.
The Net will increasingly bring us things we didn’t have time to attend to in real time (like those all important TV shows we missed).
The Web continues to collapse time and distance and will increasingly be used for staying in touch with people. She noted that 10% of people in Tanzania have a cell phone, 90% have made a cell phone call. She also said that blogging will continue to experience exponential growth, some underrepresented voices now being heard. Most people blogging are women from 23-45 yrs. old (Hey, I’m almost young enough to have made this group ;) Many people are interfacing with the Web through intermediaries, for example, some illiterate people living without electricity in 3rd world countries are getting daily “email” deliveries, read aloud to them via cell phones by children and friends.
There will be an end to the “anglosphere.” In 2008, Chinese internet users overtook US users by about 253 million. English will soon end as the dominant language. New sites, new experiences, new services will arise. With this brings the inevitable incommensurability because it is difficult to make translations, especially for slang and idiomatic expressions.
There will be different modes of connectivity, new experiences will require more bandwidth.
Different payment structures are evolving, e.g., pay as you go vs. all you can eat, vs. capped downloads (up to a certain amount will be included, but then large fee is charged for more).
There will be more government regulation for the Net, controlling it, limiting access, regulating practices. Massive regulation is already happening across the world.
Increased socio-technical concerns – new anxieties, old anxieties. The list of things we are concerned about is growing. (OY! More to worry about in 2009).
Disconnection and switching-off are an interesting phenomenon (some people are now planning vacations around “dead spots” so they can switch off).
Hmm, “spring break” cruise anyone? Our family is planning one to the Caribbean this March in search of a “dead spot” (and, BTW, some warmer weather, NJ this winter is appalling – lots of icy treachery this week).
From an e-mail from Peggy Cadigan, Consultant for Innovation and Communication, at the New Jersey State Library. (I’m so happy to see this come out of the futures conference that was held – my app is already in!)
Subject: Participation in NJSL Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future – applications needed by August 15, 2007
Norma Blake, State Librarian, has instituted a “Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future” to continue the groundbreaking work begun by the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference. The State Library recognizes that it is imperative to have input from the people who are shaping the future of New Jersey’s libraries.
This is an open invitation to anyone currently working in a New Jersey library who has an interest in the future of libraries to apply for a possible appointment to the Task Force. The Task Force will comprise members from different types of libraries and from different job titles. Applications will be reviewed by a panel selected by the State Librarian and appointments made following the review process. The goal of the Task Force will be to make recommendations about how libraries can respond in the future to the information received at the conference and the challenges presented. How can local libraries and the State Library respond to projected demographic changes, growing diversity, an aging population, and technological advances?
We expect that this task force will require a short-term commitment. It is expected that the task force will meet once a month for six months, beginning September 2007, culminating in a report to the State Librarian by March 2008. The report will be presented at the April 2008 NJLA Conference.
If you are interested in serving on this panel, please complete page two of the application which can be found at https://mail01.palsplus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.njstatelib.org/News/Blue%2520Ribbon%2520Panel.pdf and return it by August 15, 2007 to:
Consultant for Innovation and Communication
New Jersey State Library
185 West State Street
P.O. Box 520
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0520
You may send the application as a word document e-mail attachment or fax it to: 609-633-3963.
Contact Peggy Cadigan with any questions. 609-278-2640, Ext. 113 or 609-292-4161, firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediately after I posted that bit about “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” right before the Futures Conference, I realized it needed an amendment. It needed me to add that I am such a hypocrite!
I am a huge advocate of using “2.0” things for libraries – blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc… and not being AFRAID of CHANGE and of doing some different things. And here I am, NOT blogging really! I posted that post and then went off to take a shower and it was there that I realized that I have to admit and face up to MY fears and issues if I am going to be talking to others about CHANGE – FEAR – GROWTH and their issues.
My fear is of not being perfect; not being good enough – liked – accepted; etc…. That is why I have been avoiding blogging. This is a true soul-baring admission. I want to blog. I often think of things to blog. Yet, I allow my fears to hold me back.
Well, no more! I am realizing my fears, admitting them, and challenging them. Just as I want to be able to challenge everyone else to do! So, as I go forth and blog and challenge you (hopefully) you can know that I do so with a clear conscious having admitted this and having started to face my own fears!
At the conference Robert said to me that people appreciate honesty and that’s what is most important. Well, consider yourselves warned . . .
[Thanks to Robert and Pete for discussions surrounding this topic at the conference! It helped a lot!]
I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday. I have lots of notes notes notes, a swirl of ideas, and a pile of inspiration. In the interest of sharing the goodies, I’m posting my notes in a fairly raw form with limited commentary. Get it right or get it written, right?
Before I get into my notes, a big thank you to the New Jersey State Library (esp. Peggy Cadigan) , Palinet (Catherine Wilt, Ann Yurcaba, Diana Bitting), and all of the organizers for all their hard work and for doing a fantastic job! Great speakers, great space, great conference!
OK, here are my notes from:
LIBRARY SPACE: IS IT THE LAST FRONTIER OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.
(BTW, this is a highly filtered report. Scherer talked a lot about lighting, about environmentally friendly building design, and many other fascinating topics. I highly recommend you take a look at his whole presentation when it’s posted to the conference website.)
- The library in 2030 will be as different from today’s library as today’s library is from the library of 1930.
- The library as a central place is the only single political agent that can affect change at all levels. Our neutrality is an important tool for us to think about.
- The library is an agent of these four elements of our lives: live, work, play, learn.
- We are a service profession that delivers great content, struggles with technology and frets over cash. The real decisions are made around cash. If you reflect on the fact that Americans spend as much on Halloween candy as they do on library books, you see that the $$ is there.
- We need to stop focusing on what is not possible, and focus on what is possible. It’s important to be optimistic. If you focus energy on what’s not possible, you’ll never create the possible.
- “Our eyes connect our emotions.”
- “Love is probably the central focus of great libraries”
Guiding principle: We need to create space for spontaneity and socializing: the library as 3rd place (agora)
Carleton college did a survey of alumni: 40% of graduates married other Carleton students; 40% of those people met in the library. Why? Because they were in a different social space than if they had met at a football game. Being in a library raises our commonality; transcends our boundaries.
Applying the lessons: How to create a 3rd space:
- Reading nooks with back to wall (people love to curl up)
- Daylight and views
- Computer tables (missed some of what he said on this)
- Offer a variety of options
- Self-controlled lighting
- Daylight and good views
- Gossip corners that don’t interfere with others
- Homelike features; fireplace, natural flooring
- Group seating that can work with one to three people
- Privacy (acoustic and visual): people want to get information in private
- Visibility of service points and collection
- Come out from behind the desk and greet patrons. There has to be a transformation in this area!
Other key points
- “I want to do it myself” Trend to self service is huge.
- “Help is on the way” but only if you need it. (Point of need service delivery)