Thursday, December 22, 2011

Libraries at Webscale

My lovely and future-thinking coworker Rebecca turned me on to this document.
In essence this document is meant to spark a discussion (sound familiar, Futurists?) around the theme of libraries and the opportunities afforded by thinking globally and acting locally--thinking in webscale. Increase and decrease capacity. Personalize, yet globalize. The ideas raised in this document are asked through the lens of webscale and are similar to many we've been throwing around.
  • How can libraries provide services that meet the personalized me-me-me expectations that the Web has created for our users?
  • What is a universal library? What could it look like?
  • How can libraries identify and pursue meaningful innovation? Collaboration? Partnerships? How do we build the future together?
OCLC then describes some of their initiatives to prepare for libraries operating at webscale.

Happy Holidays, all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Limitless Libraries

Here's yet another article related to MNLFI themes. This one is from The Tennessean.

November 21, 2011
Written by Nancy DeVille

Novel idea unleashes surge in Limitless Libraries usage

Before the school day begins, Brandon Munoz is already in the library.

The Goodlettsville Middle School sixth-grader is averaging about 20 books a week. His favorites are graphic novels such as the Bone series, or popular fiction titles such as Diary of the Wimpy Kid or Darth Paper Strikes Back.

Just last school year, he mostly visited the library out of obligation, but an agreement between the school district and Nashville Public Library — called Limitless Libraries — is making things a little more interesting. Metro middle and high schoolers can use their home or school computers to check out books, DVDs and CDs from the Nashville Public Library and have them delivered to their schools.

Library officials in New York City, Boston and St. Paul, Minn., have called Metro in recent months, interested in implementing similar initiatives.

The program also includes updating school libraries. In the past few months, 31,730 titles have been removed from middle and high schools — some with copyrights dating back to the 1970s, including science books with Pluto included as a planet. New books include Advanced Placement prep volumes and popular fiction titles such as The Hunger Games and the Twilight saga.

“It’s fun to read as it just takes you to another place and boosts your imagination,” said Brandon, 11. “I’m raising my reading grades since Limited Libraries has started.”

The program launched as a pilot in 2009 in four Metro high schools. The program expanded to all high schools in 2010 and to middle schools this year.

Limitless Libraries is sending more than 7,000 items a month to Metro schools, similar to the circulation at some library branches. Circulation has increased in schools, some as high as 140 percent, library officials say.

“We are seeing overwhelming successes,” said Tricia Bengel, interim director at Nashville Public Library. “Kids are borrowing more books than they have ever borrowed, and they have access to different types of materials than they have even had before. It’s a good problem to have, but we are struggling a little bit to keep up with the increase in circulation.

“It benefits the library because we’ve added 15,000 patrons that we didn’t have before. We are building our patrons of tomorrow.”

'A model for others'

Students use their student ID as their library card and log onto the Limitless Libraries system to request materials be delivered to their school. They have access not only to their school collections but also to more than 1.5 million items from the Nashville Public Library. More than 23,952 students are participating — 15,000 of them as new library cardholders.

Students new to this country or with poor English skills check out required reading in audio book format to help them learn the language.

Mayor Karl Dean was instrumental in forging the partnership between Metro Schools and the Nashville Public Library. It was at a time when only 14 of the district’s 16 high schools had the volumes required per student to meet state Department of Education standards, and much of the material was outdated, he said.

“This takes advantage of a great library system and helps us improve the library systems that our kids in schools have access to,” Dean said. “It’s a model for others in how we should be organizing ... libraries.

“It’s a compliment to our libraries and schools that other cities want to adopt this program.”

For the 2012 fiscal year, $1.196 million have been placed in the budget for the Limitless Libraries program. Library officials hope to expand it to elementary schools next year.

Obstacle overcome

Allison Barney, librarian at Wright Middle School, said the program helps eliminate one of the main barriers students have in accessing items from the public library — transportation.

Since the program started at Goodlettsville Middle School in September, an average of 60 kids use the library daily, outside of time required by their teachers. Alison Maliszewski, the school’s first-year librarian, is bombarded daily with kids asking the same question: “Are my books here yet?” She says she can get new releases as quickly as the public library can.

Popular titles are always the first to go, along with Playaways, preloaded mini mp3 audio books.

“For a new librarian, I feel like I have so much more to offer them,” said Maliszewski, who previously taught fifth grade at the school.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids that were not typical readers that are now coming in here. Anytime they are reading, it’s going to increase their scores. Our collection has expanded one hundredfold.”

Many of her students are checking books out for siblings and parents.

“I’m now the librarian in my house,” Brandon said. “Every time I get a chance to get on the computer, my little brothers keep asking me to get on Limitless Libraries.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Florida Library Makes 34,000 Ebooks Available at International Airport

Sharing an article from The Digital Shift that details an embodiment of an idea we'd kicked around earlier this year.

November 8, 2011

Travelers at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport can now download free ebooks from the Broward County Library while they wait to claim their luggage.

The partnership between the library and the airport began during the summer but only recently has begun to attract notice. The airport all together has 36 LCD screens that are reserved for advertisements or public service announcements.

Twelve screens near the baggage claim now also display a QR code that the traveler can scan with a QR code reader app on their smartphone or electronic reading device, and then they can access over 34,000 public domain titles via the library’s OverDrive platform. No library card is required and the titles never expire.

“The library did all the heavy lifting and we just provided them the venue,” said Greg Meyer, the airport’s public information officer. “The airport’s position is that it’s one more customer convenience that we can provide to make the experience better. We have free WiFi and when something comes along like this, where there’s only positive impact for the passengers, why not,” he said.

Meyer said the only caveat was that the airport had to make sure that the service would not take money away from airport concessions.

“We had to be careful not to compete with vendors selling hard bound books,” he said. “The library ensured us that it was older books that would not compete with more current titles being sold,” he said.

Catherine McElrath, the library’s publications specialist manager, approached Meyer about the project.

“Working with the airport was a real pleasure. They were really open to the idea,” McElrath said. “It’s a wonderful way to bring library services to people everywhere,” she said.
There is no charge for displaying the QR code since the airport regards it as a public service announcement.

Stephen Grubb, the library’s e-services manager, said the program is averaging about 20 to 30 downloads a month, but he is expecting that number will grow as people learn about the program.

“People think about books when they think of the library, but they haven’t really made the connection between the library and ebooks yet. This raises their awareness,” he said.

He also said using the QR codes was a quick and easy way to get people to the library’s website and also to appeal to a younger demographic who may not be using the library.

The library is planning to expand the program at the airport and also is working with Broward County Transit to display the QR codes at bus stations and also possibly at Port Everglades, which serves all of south Florida.

“These ebooks are things people could go out and find elsewhere, but what libraries do best is bring information to people, like answering a reference question,” Grubb said. “That’s what we do best and this program is an example of that,” he said.

The library is making a concentrated effort to highlight all its e-services in a program called BCL.WOW, or a library without walls, which will include a mobile app that is scheduled to become available in December.

“We want to broaden the perception of library service,” Grubb said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ALA + Tea Party = Unusual Coalition

Libraries may become Smooth Criminal's by linking to illegally shared content, oh noes!!!111oneHere's an interesting developing story heard this Wednesday morning on American Public Media's Marketplace Tech Report. This story, as it unfolds, will affect everyone who uses the Internet.
  • "The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today concerning the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. It's a bill recently introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that would block access to websites that distribute unlicensed content or facil
    itate the distribution of that content."
We're not talking about tasty soup here, folks. We're talking about giving someone authority to blacklist and block access to websites. The big problem is the vague language in the bill.
  • "The bill uses a bunch of different terms to try to define these sites, some of which come from the case law the courts have been using, but it also has other terms that are less clearly defined in copyright law, like 'facilitate.' Does YouTube facilitate downloading?"
Consider which sites might be blocked beyond the obvious ones like torrent sites or those streaming illegal live TV. Could it be YouTube? Imagine if that whole site was blocked. How about this blog? How about your library website? Are you linking to a site that could be sharing unlicensed material (that you're not aware of), because if so, then your library website is a law-breaking criminal.

Wondering about the title of this post? Well, "opposing the bill are the A.C.L.U., the Tea Party Patriots, the American Library Association and Facebook."

Read or listen to this very interesting and developing story on Marketplace's website:

Monday, November 7, 2011

How worried should we be by California?

LA Times OpEd
California must value librarians; libraries can't run themselves

Librarians are more than book finders, shelf arrangers, computer technicians and shush-ers. In a society overwhelmed by data, they are the gatekeepers and organizers of high-quality information.
  • "Other states employ an average of one public librarian to 6,250 patrons. As of last year, 3,432 full-time librarians served 37,253,956 Californians. In other words, California librarians were each expected to serve 10,854 patrons. We also employ fewer school librarians than any other state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here, there is one school librarian for every 5,965 students; the national average is one librarian to 865 students."
  • "Still, the idea of shutting down a library is unpalatable to most officials. So they lay off librarians to keep the buildings open, supporting the illusion that libraries can simply run themselves."
  • "As one resident wrote in a letter of protest to the mayor of Anaheim, "Libraries without librarians are like hospitals without doctors." California cannot afford to lose any more librarians without risking the quality of what is left of our libraries as well."
And a response: Saving libraries but not librarians

Friday, November 4, 2011

Johns Hopkins Medical Library Closing

On January 1, 2012, the Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University will close its physical building to users and shift all operations to an online environment. Citing a decline in on-site visitors and explosive growth of online journal usage, the decision was made to re-purpose the 81 year-old library's space and deliver all services electronically. Librarians will continue to provide support for the teaching and research missions at Johns Hopkins as "embedded informationists," found in the work-flow of clinicians, investigators and instructors.

An interesting point covered by the article from the Digital Shift is that the Welch Medical Library currently allocates 95% of its acquisitions budget to electronic journal and database subscriptions. According to the library director, Nancy Roderer, savings from closing the library will be redirected back to the collections budget, resulting in a collection that is 95% digital. Roughly translated, this means that 95% of the Welch acquisitions budget will be invested in licensed content rather than owned material. Eighty one-years of collection development and 400,000 volumes later, the Welch Medical Library is mortgaging its future as an information provider on a radically different acquisitions model.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hey, What's the Big Idea?

This recent talk by R. David Lankes offers some novel thoughts on innovation and ideas (the bigger the better). Dr. Lankes traces how many big ideas (democracy, culture, entrepreneurial innovation) connect with librarianship as a profession, stressing how librarians - defined as anyone working in a library - have a pivotal role in improving the experience of all members of a library community.

Killing Librarianship from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

What do you think of this reasoning? Is librarianship a cutting edge profession, capable of innovating in ways both large and small in ways that "improve society through facilitating knowledge creation?"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SLA's FutureReady365

If you are not already aware of SLA's FutureReady365 blog, check it out.
I'm bouncing in my chair at Internet Librarian 2011 right now, listening to Cindy Romaine--current SLA President--and Meryl Cole talk about the project. 365 in the name = a blog post a day related to being "future ready." I can't wait to start reading through the posts. Sounds like a lot of their thinking and dreams parallel a lot of MNFLI's thinking and dreams. I like seeing that. I like that they balance between being smart professionals and being playful and personal in their blog. I'm also embarrassed I wasn't aware of this project until 47 minutes ago.
Here's an excerpt from their about page to get your interest piqued:
What is Future Ready?
  • It’s an attitude of being more adaptable, flexible, and confident in utilizing the skills of the information & knowledge professional.
  • It’s a strategic shift toward being more effective at aligning with emerging and robust opportunities in the information industry and beyond.
  • It’s a focus on preparing ourselves for emerging opportunities in the information industry through:
    • Collaboration to accelerate the availability of useful information
    • An adaptable skill set that anticipates and responds to the evolving marketplace
    • Alignment with the language and values of the community you serve
    • Building a community that connects stakeholders in mutually beneficial relationships

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A place like no other...

An interesting mix of corporate feel and lots of kids shot. They certainly emphasize value and not books! Do they have cooking classes? Love it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Come see us at MLA Annual Conference 2011

Session Title: Minnesota Library Futures Initiative
Tracks: Administration & Leadership

When: Friday, Oct. 14 from 9:30 to 10:30

Presenters: Members of the Minnesota Library Futures Initiative

Description: In October 2010, a group of 24 early career librarians from all library types met for the first time to start envisioning the year 2025. Since that time, the Futurists have investigated
potential economic, social, technological, and other trends
to craft an idea of what libraries—and library patrons—will
look like in the next 15 years. Join the Futurists for a brief overview of their work and a preview of what’s in store for Minnesota’s libraries in 2025. During the session, the Futurists hope to help library staff start thinking about what might be done to prepare for the changes to come. In line
with how the Futurists have approached their task, this presentation will be philosophical in nature rather than focused on the latest gadgets and fads.

Yum! Design.

The Design section of the New York Times is featuring the Children’s Library Discovery Center in the Queens Central Library in downtown Jamaica.

"Today libraries double as centers for the elderly and toddler playrooms. They’re safe after-school havens for teenagers of working parents, with rooms set aside that are stocked with computers and, at a few branches, like the Rockaways, even with recording studios."

"Libraries have also learned from retailers like Starbucks and Barnes & Noble about what people expect when they leave their homes to go someplace public to sit and read. Libraries have become modern town squares and gathering places; they offer millions of New Yorkers employment counseling, English-language classes and, crucially, Internet access. Quiet rooms, like those Carnegie built, tend to be smaller and set aside these days, almost like smoking sections in airports."
"Is that a bad thing? Times change. Research libraries still survive. To imagine that libraries could remain as they were half a century ago would entail wishing away the Web and the demands of old people, immigrants, the unemployed, schoolchildren and parents who want constructive places to keep their young children occupied at a time when public resources and political good will are in increasingly short supply."


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What students don't know

This has been making the rounds in the higher ed circles. One of my colleagues mentioned that a faculty member contacted her as a result of reading this...if only we could all be so lucky.

What students don't know: study of student research habits

"...have learned over the course of a two-year, five-campus ethnographic study examining how students view and use their campus libraries: students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students. Those who even have the word “librarian” in their vocabularies often think library staff are only good for pointing to different sections of the stacks."

"At Illinois Wesleyan University, “The majority of students -- of all levels -- exhibited significant difficulties that ranged across nearly every aspect of the search process,” according to researchers there. They tended to overuse Google and misuse scholarly databases. They preferred simple database searches to other methods of discovery, but generally exhibited “a lack of understanding of search logic” that often foiled their attempts to find good sources."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is a Beta Sprint?

Interesting ideas on the Digital Public Library of America:

and this just announced...

After a careful selection process, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Steering Committee is thrilled to announce the eight members of the Beta Sprint Review Panel. The panel will convene in early September to review the Beta Sprint submissions. The creators of the most promising betas will be invited to present at the October 21, 2011 public plenary meeting in Washington, DC.

The panel is composed of public and research librarians and experts in the fields of library science and information management from around the country:

Patsy Baudoin, MIT Libraries
Maeve Clark, Iowa City Public Library
Laura DeBonis, former Director for Library Partnerships for Google Book Search
Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District Library
David Rumsey, David Rumsey Map Collection
Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library
John Weise, HathiTrust
Jessamyn West, library technologist

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hooray, more standards! Now what?

The Information Literacy Standards for Teacher Education were recently published. So what? You're probably only reading this because of the awesome picture to the right.

Here's a small call for action, either through our MNLFI final project or an MLA committee down the road or a post-apocalyptic rewrite of the US education system. Librarians--this includes me--please work with your program directors or deans or instructional designers or faculty members to promote information literacy education. Collaborate with those in the education field to find out where these standards fit into current education program and state licensure requirements. (Seems like that might be the easiest door in which to wriggle through. I don't know.) Be prepared to suggest assignment augmentations or in-class projects that reflect these standards/objectives. Consider talking with your School Library Media Specialist friends to see if they know anything about these new standards, or if they have any great ideas for implementation.

These standards, if adopted by teacher education programs, can help our teachers better know how to teach students to become more information literate (and how to assess and evaluate said growth). But the standards won't get adopted on their own. Instead of reading them, thinking "that's good that someone came up with these," and shrugging them off, expend a little energy trying to get ACRL's work into action at your college or university. Just try! I'm going to. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Corporate Culture at Netfilx

A few things in the powerpoint from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made me think about Libraries and why we are resistant to change--we were really good at what we did (and still are) with collecting, organizing and providing access to books but....

Something about these processes seemed eerily familiar...

What do you think?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just in time...

ALA just released a new report - Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Library.

This report is just in time for us as we start putting together our final thoughts this summer. The report talks about a lot of things we've discussed, especially the idea of the virtual library versus physical library. Will we be used more virtually in the future and will our physical buildings still matter?

We've discussed this back and forth as we've moved forward, with the majority of us still thinking the physical building and presence will matter, but to what extent? I think that's what we struggle with the most. To what extent will things shift from virtual to physical and vice versa?

If anyone has any insights to share with us, please do so!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Troubles in E-Authorship

I've been a little bemused by the high number of self published digital downloads in Amazon's bookshelves these days. I vacillate between glorying in the coming age of the "Author as King," spawning a new revolution in literature...and rolling my eyes at sub-par syntax and half formed characters. Heck though, at 99 cents, who can complain?

It seems like the authors themselves can. Is this a case of "What technology giveth, technology can taketh away?"

According to Reuters, spammers are getting their 99 cents too, often at the author's expense.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just what your library needs...a 3D printer!?!

LITA is piloting a new YouTube presence, and the Top Technology Trends Committee is excited to be a part of this effort. Jason Griffey produced the first video.

Should your library buy a 3D printer like this one?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Information is now as infinite as the universe, but finding the answers needed is harder than ever"

"We found no matter where students are enrolled, no matter what information resources they have at their disposal, and no matter how much time they have, the abundance of information technology and the proliferation of digital information resources have made research uniquely paradoxical.

Information is now as infinite as the universe, but finding the answers needed is harder than ever.

Our ongoing research confirms proficiency in information problem solving is urgent, given the dauntingly vast and complex wilderness of information available digitally. As one student in humanities said during one of our focus groups, "What's so frustrating to me about conducting research is the more you know, the more you realize how little you know — it's depressing, frustrating and suffocating."

"...It is time for many educators to stop lamenting about "these kids today" and retool and prioritize the learning of skills for solving information problems if students are to learn and master critical thinking at all. Or, as one student in social sciences we interviewed told us, "College is about knowing how to look at a problem in multiple ways and how to think about it analytically — now, that's something I'll use in my life."

Read more:

Monday, June 6, 2011

TEDx: Librarians at Thought Leaders

Should we do a TED? I noticed this event in Toronto and it made me think of a what a cool event that would be. Here is a little bit on their theme....

"Who inspires you?"

"We live in a time that is in need of inspiration. The aspirations of both individuals and society have always had a home within libraries and have traditionally found a voice through librarians.

The theme for TEDx LibrariansTO is Librarians as Thought Leaders. Come to the event and experience this incredible opportunity to hear librarians speak to the differences we make in the world and how we have, can and do lead and transform society."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We REALLY want your input!

As we continue to engage the larger library community in our conversations, we hope to gain even more ideas, thoughts and comments with the use of this survey.

At our meetings we research and discuss certain focus areas.  What do you envision in these areas in 2025?  Please tell us what you think!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In sunny LA, librarians are not "teachers." How grandiose.

Whilst relaxing over the Memorial Day weekend, I saw this article come through the blogosphere: "L.A. School District Tells Librarians: You're Not Teachers." Available at
After seeing that, I was no longer relaxed. Thank goodness for BBQ and beer and mosquitoes to get me back in the mood of the weekend. But I digress.
Om nom nom on my arm.
Hoo boy, this librarian/media-specialist-as-superfluous-employee trend had better stop before it begins or else the US may end up trending toward this. As usual, all librarians need to step up the marketing and explain or demonstrate to their colleagues and employers why they are indeed teachers. A lot of times what we teach is off the standardized curricular map. There is probably not a single one of us librarian/public servants that wouldn't consider ourselves teachers, be it of reading, critical thinking, resume writing, navigating the Internet, navigating to the bathroom, job searching, information finding, emailing, current events, blogging, source evaluation, spelling, culture, history, research strategies, web design, oral and written communication, globalization, computer software, healthcare, taxes, self-reflection, community involvement and civic organizations, "Netiquette," customs, English and other languages, stewardship, plagiarism, creativity, and trust.
That last sentence: It was long. And I could've gone on. But I think the point was mildly made that librarians do teach--maybe just not to the tests and curricular standards.
As we move forward in our futurist planning, we need to consider:
  • How does one define what it means to be a teacher--not just in theory but in the eyes of school districts, administrators, job descriptions, parents, community members, ????
  • How do the skills and information librarians teach line up with state and national learning standards?
  • Do librarians need to overtly "teach to the test"--that glorious trend in education right now--so that their educational contributions may be measured?
  • Or is this a better model to consider?
What do you, the reader, think about this? When did librarian and teacher become two disconnected entities in the eyes of some? Were they ever considered synonymous terms by those outside the field of librarianship? Why or why not? In your opinion, are librarians teachers?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Serving the whole

Forward-thinking library folks like us have proposed plenty of new directions and new services for libraries. One of the most profound barriers to such change is the fact that, right now, most of our traditional services appear to be as essential as ever. We still need to provide books and movies and computers because plenty of our users do not have the disposable income to purchase those on their own. However the profound need on one end of the economic spectrum is blinding us to the other end, where we are increasingly optional and approaching irrelevance. We're approaching an age in which, for those who have spending money, anything they could possibly want to do through a library could be done more easily elsewhere: getting (e)books, getting movies, getting online, getting answers. We’ve been fortunate so far that public libraries enjoy a platonic/nostalgic reputation as a civic asset, and are defended even by community members who rarely think to actually use the library themselves. This will not last forever.

With finite budgets and staff time, new services mean taking away from old ones. Thus the profound need for basic library services from a portion of the community is often invoked as an argument against novelty. This is noble, but risky in the long term. If bridging the technology gap is the cornerstone of our services, what service do we provide to the rest of the community? Public libraries exist to serve the public, and that means everybody.

I work for a very urban branch of an urban public library system, and I love what I do. I love knowing that I am truly helping the people I serve. But that cannot be our raison d'être. Otherwise we eventually become an information food shelf: a noble place, but not one that serves the whole community. Basic library services each first arose because they were relevant to the majority. Our services have to keep growing with our communities, even when entrenching with traditional services seems so justifiable.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Godin's take on the future of libraries

We Futurists have spent a little time this week discussing Seth Godin's recent blog post on the future of public libraries as well as some blog posts that were written in response. Much of the research we've done regarding how libraries will look in 2025 (and are already starting to look) are definitely in line with Godin's thinking. He places an emphasis on techno/information savvy librarians who look beyond traditional in-house resources and encourage a space for public use and creative thinking. Even the education I received emphasized the "Information" piece of the Master's of Library and Information Science. We were told that if you applied for library school solely because you love books (though many of us love books dearly), you're going to be disappointed. Navigating data and resources and educating users how to navigate for themselves is part of a reference librarian's workflow. If they're not interested in being educated, we still get them what they ask for, hopefully without giving them the stinkeye if they prefer to get a resource on their e-reader rather than a book.

As much as I found Godin's post reflective of what many futurist-types hope libraries will look like, it's obvious that the business sphere is where he is most comfortable. He wants libraries to be cutting edge, always evolving to meet the newest needs, and tech heavy-- like many great and trending businesses are. But library structures are very regimented. Depending on the chain of command, resources, and budget many libraries can't just turn into a a smooth-running idea center overnight. If the library were run like many businesses, I think half of the librarians and support staff would be fired because their positions don't fit into this model. And that's not what we want. How do we grapple with the idea of making a library like a successful business when libraries aren't rooted in the business world?

I would also like to point out, when I talk about running a library like a business, I'm not suggesting we charge for materials or require users to jump through hoops to use them. I'm not suggesting outsourcing purchasing power of books or slashing the hours of full-time employees. But I am talking about providing users with what they want when they want it (not what I think they want or what they should want). I'm also talking about changing services to meet their needs, even if that means changing these services every 3-5 years.

When reading these two posts back-to-back, it gives us Futurists a lot to think share your thoughts!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In 20 years, what will computers look like?

There's an interesting infographic on the Mashable blog today showing what computers may look like in 20+ years. It's looking pretty bleak for computers, or at least what we know of computers today.

Here's a link to the Mashable post so you can check it out yourself.

What I find fascinating is the idea of biological computing. What has long been a science fiction staple, the idea that computing will work with our DNA, seems like it may be coming true. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea, but according to the infographic scientists already have the basic building blocks of DNA computers.

I struggle with not knowing what technology will look like in the future when I think about where libraries will go with it. I love the idea of kiosks in libraries and throughout towns where people will hook up whatever object they have to download library resources, but is that only 5 years off and not 15?

Where is computing going? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What about the archives in 2025?

With all our discussion of the future of libraries, sometimes we forget to discuss the future of archives. Libraries and archives have gone hand in hand for centuries, and libraries serve as an access point to archival materials. Forward-thinking libraries and archives are working diligently to digitize their content in order to allow patrons 24/7 access, and the ability to view materials without setting foot into the library. We tend to think of these materials as old: handwritten letters, black and white photographs, meeting minutes typed on a type-writer. But what about materials that are born-digital? Particularly items that, though digital, are still old. Floppy disc, anyone?

The following article, “Digital Legacy: Respecting the digital dead,” examines how libraries and archives are acquiring floppy discs, hard drives, and other forms of digital technology that have evolved rapidly and/or died out within the last 10-20 years. Without touching the original files, digital forensics are employed to replicate the data and make it useable by researchers. This particular article describes how a researcher uses a special computer in the library to navigate the desktop of an evolutionary biologist.

This current system has its flaws-- the computer programs have no way of identifying what is sensitive and what is not, potentially requiring close curation; it also appears that the materials, though digital, can only be viewed on site. The article points to technologies in the future that will address these issues. Who knows, in 2025 maybe we’ll be able to view these and other digital files with relative ease? Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Textbooks at the state level

Free College Textbooks for Ohio Students!
A new joint pilot program between the University System of Ohio and Flat World Knowledge, the largest publisher of free and open college textbooks for students worldwide, will allow 1,000 Ohio students to receive digital textbooks for FREE.

The Ohio Digital Bookshelf Project is a pilot project of Ohio Textbook HQ that aims to provide quality textbook options for faculty and better learning outcomes, while also saving students money.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Interactive App Platform for Book Publishing

Two former Apple employees and Al Gore have teamed up to develop and promote a new app called Push Pop Press for publishing books. This Wired article details this development and includes a “how-to” video from Al Gore. As János accurately pointed out in his blog post from 4/27, digital publishing is blowing up. People want to do more with books. They want to interact with books and have options for accessing further information about the topic from within the book itself. This particular publishing app allows for picture expansion, embedded videos, interactive graphics, definitions, and the like. It looks simply beautiful and seamless. More information about Al Gore’s book and the download are available here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shared library system operated by the National Library

An interesting model....

SirsiDynix, EBSCO Publishing, and Computer Concepts Ltd. have been selected to work with Kōtui to develop a shared library system operated by the National Library of New Zealand for subscribing public libraries.

"Through Kōtui, library customers will be able to easily discover and access resources from home or from school or work as well as from inside a library."

Ms Sutherland says Kōtui will give member libraries access to centralised expertise and a help desk offered through an augmented Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa (APNK) service.

"The shared service will provide a substantially improved service to all member libraries and councils at costs which could not be achieved by councils acting individually to implement levels of service offered by Kōtui."

As background:
LSynCNZ (Library Systems in Collaboration, NZ) is a joint project between public libraries and the National Library of New Zealand to develop and fund a business case for a shared library system under a library systems consortium. The vision for Kōtui is:
"Libraries working together to provide all of their customers with easy, fast and effective access to the local, national and international resources they need to live, learn and earn."

Read more:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reading is about to change too

The Futures Initiative hasn't much discussed future trends in media, largely because we have the positive attitude that, whatever comes, we'll still help users discover and access it. The medium is merely a container, and changing that doesn't change the essential role and value of libraries. However we ought not ignore trends in this area completely. This interview with YA author Amanda Harvard illuminated some significant developments in storytelling. Harvard's debut novel The Survivors was just published last month, but she and a friend have been Tweeting as two of the main characters since 2009. First they just conversed with each other, but now fans are interacting with the characters in real-time. The author is also collaborating with musicians to release songs based on the book.* Partly this is just novel marketing, but it's also, as Harvard says, allowing "readers to be able to connect to these characters as just what they are: people. In this way, The Survivors extends beyond the singular medium of the book. It is so much bigger than just the words on the page." Harvard also describes exclusively real locations and brands, both for verisimilitude and for potential cross-marketing. Perhaps its not so ridiculous if you consider the emergence of Forks, Washington as a tourist destination despite not having sights particularly tied to the Twilight series.

Reading is going to become largely digital. It's happened with music and it's happening now with movies. Moreover social media is refocusing technology on enabling humans to do what humans evolved to do best: talk with each other. What kind of trends will emerge as books take advantage of digital and social capabilities?

Certainly e-books will begin incorporating a lot more multimedia. We'll see more pictures and maps, even video. Features like these would be particularly useful for e-textbooks. Many current textbooks have review questions at the ends of chapters; what greater value if the book actually calculated students' scores and provided immediate feedback on their mastery of the material? But multimedia will enhance fiction as well. Imagine fantasy novels with flyover animations of the terrain, chick lit with links to buy the various fashions mentioned, or crypto-thrillers where readers have to solve puzzles to advance to the next chapter. (If all this seems abhorrent to you, remember; no one is going to be forcing you to read it. Linear storytelling won't go away, but it may become a niche product.)

Social technologies will also be integrated into reading. Successful e-reading devices will allow users to share passages and reactions with others. The pittance students make by selling their used textbooks might be supplanted by a thriving market for annotations and highlights done by high-performing scholars. The relationship between authors and readers will become more of a two-way street as consumer-created content and feedback becomes more incorporated and influential.

So those are just a few predictions. As a responsible futurist, I can't claim to be all-knowing or that I've covered more than a fraction of this topic. However it behooves the Futures Initiative to touch on these trends at least a little. What other ramifications can folks suggest?

*And shouldn't links to ancillary material like this be included in our catalog records?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We must design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were

Incompetent Research Skills Curb Users' Problem Solving
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, April 11, 2011

Very interesting, short article about strategies in web searching and its effect on problem solving. How does this apply to library searching? How can we help students search/problem solve better?

Here are a few quotes:
  • the rough estimate from our available data is obvious: users change search strategy only 1% of the time; 99% of the time they plod along a single unwavering path. Whether the true number is 2% or 0.5%, the big-picture conclusion is the same: users have extraordinarily inadequate research skills when it comes to solving problems on the Web.It also highlights a big problem with search today: it doesn't facilitate any conceptual knowledge because it relies on quick in-out dips into websites.
  • In general, we almost never see people use advanced search. And when they do, they typically use it incorrectly -- partly because they use it so rarely that they never really learn how it works.
  • For today's Web design projects, we must design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What is a Library?

Guest author, Hugh McGuire, wrote an intriguing article (What are Libraries For?) for the In the Library with the Leadpipe blog this week. The philosophy behind his argument echoes our February discussion: focusing on why libraries exist rather than linking our identity too closely with how we accomplish that mission, trying to avoid preserving the problem for which we are the solution, and identifying a new core of what makes libraries valuable in changing times. I'm curious to hear what others think of his conclusions -- certainly they are among those discussed by the Futurists at the February meeting. Would you add to this list? Argue with it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Transforming Traditional Organizations

Jeffrey Trzeciak - Chief Librarian at McMaster University - gave a talk earlier this month at Penn State titled Transforming Traditional Organizations. The talk focused on the process and measures McMaster used to transform and update a "library in [a] state of decline." While the video clocks in at a little over an hour, Mr. Trzeciak's remarks and visions for the future of academic libraries are provocative and worth hearing - critical reaction of some sort is guarenteed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New models for e-book lending

MPR's recent report on e-books and libraries, "The Future Of Libraries In The E-Book Age," had a number of good points that I hadn't seen overtly covered in other articles. Publishers are justifiably concerned about a situation where an infinite number of copies could be produced off a single sale. However the current solution imposes a hopelessly out-of-touch physical business model, requiring that e-books only be available to one user at a time. This is a slap in the face to the whole point of digital content, which is instantaneity. The model suggested in the article by NYPL's Christopher Platt is exactly what I would advocate; libraries would license x number of uses per title which could be circulated simultaneously until the threshold is met, at which point the library would decide whether or not to purchase additional uses. Essentially this is what HarperCollins is offering, but 26 uses is clearly much, much too low a bid. This would probably require new budgeting strategies, but most large libraries already have an algorithm to purchase additional copies of print books if the ratio of requests to copies hits a predefined threshold.

This does come down pretty heavily on libraries having licensed rather than owned content. I'm not terribly bothered by that prospect, and I'm adopting as a mantra the best quote from the article: "it may be heretical — but the future usually is." However perhaps a hybrid model may be more appealing. Perhaps the initial purchase includes an owned digital copy, so that once the licensed iterations are used up there is still a copy available on the one-user-at-a-time model which will probably be adequate once demand dies down. And for content that will become outdated, like travel guides, perhaps libraries will be able to forego the retained copy for a discount.

One thing is for sure, though; making users wait in line for digital content is completely at odds with user expectations.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress on Digital Public Library of America

A podcast I listen to, Digital Campus, recently talked about another meeting of a group working on the idea of the Digital Public Library of America. It sounds like some version of this is going to be moving into development possibly in 2011. Potential game changer? Pipe Dream? What do you think?

Here is some more information:
Interview with Robert Darnton on the Digital Public Library of America, pt 1

"The Berkman Center will convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders to define the scope, architecture, costs and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America. This initiative was launched in December 2010 with generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation."

What Scholars Want from the Digital Public Library of America

  • "If we want to think about the Digital Public Library of America from the scholar’s point of view, we must think about how to replicate those signals while taking advantage of the technology. In short: the best of the single search box with the trust and feel of the bookshelf."

Questions from and for the Digital Public Library of America workshop
  • "I came out of it invigorated and depressed at the same time. Invigorated: An amazing set of people, very significant national institutions ready to pitch in, an alignment on the value of access to the works of knowledge and culture. Depressed: The !@#$%-ing copyright laws are so draconian and, well, stupid, that it is hard to see how to take advantage of the new ways of connecting to ideas and to one another."
Interview with Robert Darnton on the Digital Public Library of America, pt 1

  • "A little over a week ago I sat down with Darntonaward-winning historian, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard, and director of the Harvard University Libraryto discuss plans underway for a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Sitting in Darnton's office right next to Harvard Square we discussed the nettlesome issues surrounding the DPLA, what the massive on-line collection might offer, and how such a virtual repository could serve the public."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gadgets You Should Get Rid Of (or Not)

I liked what this article had to say about books and the fact that is mentioned books as a gadget:

Some spring cleaning the article suggests....
CABLE TV Depends.
DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER Lose it (probably).
GPS UNIT Lose it.
BOOKS Keep them (with one exception). Yes, e-readers are amazing, and yes, they will probably become a more dominant reading platform over time, but consider this about a book: It has a terrific, high-resolution display. It is pretty durable; you could get it a little wet and all would not be lost. It has tremendous battery life. It is often inexpensive enough that, if you misplaced it, you would not be too upset. You can even borrow them free at sites called libraries.

But there is one area where printed matter is going to give way to digital content: cookbooks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Court ruling on Google book deal

This 3 minute audio clip was broadcast today on NPR's All Things Considered:

Judge Rejects Google Books Deal | Minnesota Public Radio News

Transliteracy, you say?

We've been a-talkin' and a'readin' about transliteracy, what the term means, and how it affects the library world. There was a good interview of Ned Potter recently on the blog Libraries and Transliteracy. My favorite excerpt is below.
  • Question: How do we become transliterate? (Jane's note: The question isn't really answered, but I like the comment he made.)
    "For the normal person on the street, becoming transliterate involves becoming educated in all the literacies relevant to them. Not everyone needs to know about all types of literacy – ‘trans’ doesn’t mean ‘all’, it means ‘across’. [...]
    But for the Information Professional, the challenge is greater. We really do need, insofar as is possible, to become expert in all forms of literacy, in order to lead the way for others to follow. That means investigating new trends, becoming early adopters of new technologies and platforms, and not burning any bridges with more traditional information literacy either. Building on sound pedagogical principles is important, particularly in the academic community, but so is being flexible and able to move with change and encompass new developments."

Ned Potter goes on to suggest you become transliteral as you "Read, write, listen, watch, and interact." THIS is the responsibility and the burden of the Library Futurists, methinks. Staying on (or creating?) the cutting edge, embracing open-mindedness, and nurturing your intrinsic desire to keep learning.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are we at the mercy of our vendors?

EBooks are not the only thing vendors have control of in our library systems. As part of the team that implemented a new ILS I find myself defending our decisions (to patrons and staff) quite often to the tune of “well we had to make this switch because the vendor was stopping supporting the old software” or “we are working with the vendor to correct that.” At times I felt powerless to fix integral parts of our system while waiting in hope that our vendor would be able to fix it.

The migration from the old system to the new one did not feel like an optional switch. Our vendor had announced plans to suspend support and development on our old system and all focus would be on their flagship product – the product that we moved to. At the same time, the library needed to upgrade system hardware, which was at the end of its life expectancy. Adding to that, the cost of upkeep and maintenance for the new system is much lower than the old. With this in mind, the decision the decision didn’t seem like a tough one or really a decision at all.

Could we have done things differently? Could we have left our vendor behind? Could we have gone open source and completely customized the ILS to our (and our borrowers) liking? King County Library System did drop their vendor and go with an open source ILS. I’m not sure their experience was much better than mine, but they are no longer at the mercy of their vendor.