Friday, June 8, 2012

1 in 3 have no Internet

Nice video from the Gate's Foundation:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Of Interest to Academic Librarians

Check out the 2012 Top Ten Trends in Academic Libraries:  A Review of the Trends and Issues Affecting Academic Libraries in Higher Education

Saint Mary's TC Library started doing patron-driven acquisition (PDA) for print materials last year. I must say it has been an awesome success thus far. Students love it--we alert them each time we purchase their book, and (anecdotally) I think it has built more community in and out of the library. We are on the cusp of entering into the eBook foray; in my research all the plans we're considering give the PDA eBook option.

We're certainly working on communicating our value to SMU both internally and externally. Our director is meeting more frequently with program directors, we're being intentional about highlighting services we offer, we're entrenched in the new online programs launched this Spring at Saint Mary's (more so than we've ever been with traditional programs--we're even helping with course design), and we're working with our Marketing Department to brand and share ourselves. First steps included easy stuff like having a wiki where we all add positive feedback we receive. That can be used in promotional materials later.

Anyway, I agree with the trends listed here. For those of you tight on time, highlights of the longer article are available at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scenarios for the Future of the Book

"ACRL has released a new report, "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book," to help librarians reexamine their assumptions, which may be grounded in the current e-book zeitgeist. Authored by David J. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching in the History Department of Ohio State University, the report is a companion to the 2010 report Staley co-authored for ACRL, "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025." This new report presents four scenarios, based in part on feedback from academic library directors. It includes scenarios which intentionally favor the continued existence of the printed book as a viable technology, so that academic and research librarians may expand their thinking about the future to include a richer set of environmental conditions."

The report is freely available:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Webinar: Made in a Library

"What happens when you take a place that has traditionally been about learning and transform it into a place of doing and making? Find out, when we look at how librarians, teachers, students, faculty and communities are turning their focus to creation—whether providing digital tools for game makers, programmers, musicians and authors, or makerspaces for 3-D printing and other “real-life” projects."

May 15 from 12-2 (central)


Monday, May 7, 2012

Upcoming Webinar: Libraries and the Era of the Learner: A Vision for the Future

"Join us for a discussion exploring lifelong learning as an economic driver in the 21st century and the expanding role of libraries in this "era of the learner." Building on discussions about 21st century skills and workforce development, we’ll hear from futurist Garry Golden on the changing workforce and the role that public libraries can play. We’re excited to take a glimpse into the future and to hear how libraries can identify changes, explore implications and pave the way for learners in the 21st century. This session will build on discussions from a face-to-face convening to be held in April, but will benefit and be of interest to all working in libraries."

Presented by: Garry Golden, Futurist, Forward Elements
May 16, 2012
Start time: 2:00 Eastern / 11:00 Pacific

For a preview, see A Visitor From the Future

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Facing the Future...

Two readings of interest:

1. Think Like A Startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism by Associate Dean Brian Mathews at Virginia Tech. He self published this work (including hiring a graphic designer) and it received 10,000 downloads in the first two weeks.

"In concise terms: startups are organizations dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This sounds exactly like an academic library to me. Not only are we trying to survive, but we’re also trying to transform our organizations into a viable service for 21st century scholars and learners."

2. 10 Changes to Expect from the Library of the Future
Not much new here but an interesting distillation of what might be in the air...or at least what the "staff writers" think about libraries.

Have you read either of these? Any thoughts? Do they help us with the future?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Libraries: Creating a Culture of Learning

"When a student struggles in school, it’s often assumed that the teachers, school system and/or student are responsible. However, through our research at CEHD we’ve discovered that family and community are primary factors in ensuring success and creating a culture of learning."

"The most effective way to encourage students to succeed in school is to build a strong foundation and culture of learning outside of the school, which starts by instilling a love of learning within parents."

"We engage libraries, employment centers, community colleges, businesses, and other institutions, to form a local network of learning between families and communities."

Learn more:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cutting Hospitals in a Plague

Just wanted to share this which I saw posted on facebook during National Library Week.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Building Bridges: Collaboration

Several recent readings, discussions, and events have had me thinking about collaboration a bit more than usual - which is saying something, since I am a librarian at PALS and spend a good deal of time working with collaborative ventures. The most recent catalyst for my mental tangent was Charles Henry and Brad Wheeler's article "The Game Has Changed" in the March/April 2012 edition of EDUCAUSE Review Magazine. In this article, Henry and Wheeler encourage academic institutions to move away from "institution as an island" mentalities and work towards interdependence. They point out that while corporations have consolidated to take advantage of the power size can bring, academic institutions have dismissed economies of scale in favor of independence.

It seems as though the topic of collaboration is getting increasing library press coverage...and for good reason. The current landscape promotes and necessitates collaboration: we cannot accommodate shrinking budgets, increasing user expectations, and advancing technological needs without taking advantage of the communication infrastructure that enables us to work together at a distance at relatively low costs, when compared to travel costs and time spent away from daily work. As my work with the Minnesota Library Futures Initiative has made evident, libraries - like academic institutions - share many of the same struggles. While it is true we must balance collaborative efforts with individual needs, we all can benefit from reducing redundancies and increasing our interdependence.

In a recent conversation, I mentioned that while negotiating journal licensing with vendors, we could talk to fellow librarians to gather feedback on practices that have worked for them. One of the people I was talking to noted that a good part of licensing is confidential information. I don't think my response to this reminder was as adequate as it could have been at the time, but let me take this opportunity to say that sharing or collaborating doesn't necessarily have to be a "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours" relationship. Simply talking about experiences in general can provide valuable information to colleagues, such as which vendors are more rigid with their policies, who is hard to reach, and what kind of bribes are effective..oh, wait... In addition, sharing our experiences may help us get on the same page as a profession: what are our expectations from vendors? What can we tolerate; what is intolerable? In addition, having these conversations could eventually lead to more shared purchases, allowing us to leverage the power of an economy of scale. While Minnesota already has a great start at this shared purchasing model through Minitex and consortia like MnPALS and CLIC, further collaboration will only make these groups stronger.

At a large university this sharing of knowledge and purchasing power may not be as obviously beneficial, but for librarians at smaller institutions, those newer to the profession, or those taking on new roles within the profession, collaboration is key. And even though large universities may not see as many obvious benefits, they will gain prestige, karma, and the opportunity to refine their practices. I often notice where a practice could be improved when I explain it to others and allow them opportunities to question how or why the process is the way it is.

As noted by Henry and Wheeler, we need to move off our islands - or at least build bridges between them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Google Glasses

Here's a trending new Future-y story read on NPR this morning. We've talked about the "what ifs" of this sort of fun stuff at our Futurist gatherings, but more through the lens (no pun intended) of education.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Library Annual Report on Youtube

2011 Annual Report for the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

-I love the idea for "neighborhoods" of collections on topics folks, pets, weddings, home.
-Interesting data to "prove" value of summer reading
-Ebooks you can try out

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Futurist Interviews Librarian Futurist David Lankes

As more information moves online, traditional libraries are losing relevance, but librarians are becoming more important than ever. This is according to R. David Lankes, author of The Atlas of New Librarianship(MIT Press, 2011).

Lankes: Let me give you a thought experiment. Imagine if every time you bought an e-book-like device, they charged you 10 bucks more than whatever the cost they were going to charge, and that 10 dollars goes into a big pool. And for your 10 dollars, you can download any book you want from the beginning of time. Would it be a good thing or bad thing for libraries? If you look at libraries as a physical collection of stuff, it’s a horrible thing. They’re out of business.

On the other hand, if you look at libraries’ mission as to increase the knowledge of their communities, it’s a wonderful thing. If your ideal scenario is knowledge building, then the more information that’s available in more modes, the better.

Lankes: There is still a role for libraries to coordinate knowledge. Microfiche is still the most permanent form we have for documents. That said, things are available in digital, and digital has a lot to say.

There are studies about when you look at an object, how separable are the information aspects of it? You wouldn’t buy a house online. You need to walk through the house. There will always be some things where the physical object matters. As a society, as a community, we need to decide which ones these are, and that’s an ongoing conversation.

Learn more about the book:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creativity = Commodity

Image from Psychology TodayPssst. Hey, you. Yeah, you. You're creative, you know.

In order to be successful in the future, creativity will be is a hot commodity useful in distinguishing oneself from a sea of other smart, capable people. Anyone can be trained, but not everyone can think creatively and inventively. As librarians, we need to practice our creative thinking skills and apply them to our professional work in order to help keep libraries relevant, promote innovative change, and be worthwhile citizens.

Psychology Today has a quick, easy article listing some 12 characteristics of creative thinking that we often forget about. Skim over this and start practicing.
Michalko, M. (2011, Dec. 02). Twelve things you were not taught in school about creative thinking. Retrieved from

It occurs to me--how would you practice thinking creatively? Well, I usually ask myself questions, like "what could reference services be like in the future?" or "what other uses are there for my earbuds?" or "what if we had ears on our hands?" All require creativity, and in my little mind, the weirdest idea wins because it stretches my creative thinking the most. Doing this as a group is also fun. Try it at your next soul-sucking staff meeting.

What ideas do you have to help you practice thinking creatively?