Top Technology Trends


K.G. Schneider writes "So help me, I'm an "expert" who will be presenting at LITA's Top Technology Trends this coming weekend at ALA Midwinter (Sunday, 8:30-11, Sheraton Constitution BR). The trends are those that affect or are important to libraries (that's broad, huh?).

I have my own ideas for trends, but what do YOU think?

Here are a few of my ideas, to get you started:

Blogs everywhere, for everything
RSS going (almost) mainstream
Flash drives ubiquitous
Storage getting cheaperncheaper
Cell phones with cameras
Ergo, moblogging
Broadband picks up many more users
Wi-fi commonplace
The rise of the citizen journalist

I know I'm supposed to say something hifalutin like "institutional repositories," and don't let me stop you from saying so, but in terms of BIG trends, these are what I really see.

I have put a similar post on my own blog, but feel free to comment here, and I'll watch both places."


Off the top of my head, and closely related to my 2004 in review, I guess this is a larger picture, less gadgety, and maybe more long term. I don't think many of my ideas will have a big impact on '05, but maybe on '08.Google scanning project. A technology project that I think is going to have a lasting effect on most large libraries. Google in general is increasingly encroaching into domains we've been masters of up till now. Not just google, but search engines in general need to be watched. Now we have things like desktop search, picasa and all that other stuff, information is being stored digitally, and organized in a usable way by these guys now.Outside of google, the next generation of search engines are going after meaning and semantics, things that only us librarians know about now. Check out Kozoru. The next generation sounds mighty "librarianish." Datamining is something to think about as well. We now regularly hear about terabytes of data, not something a single librarian could ever begin to organize. Yes, institutional repositories should be in here as well.Vendors of Electronic resources. Will everyone want everything electronic in the future? Will we just be a place to come and use a computer to do some searching? This puts our vendors in the driver's seat more than ever before. We rely on them to provide access to things we used to do.Epaper and Ebooks. A usable epaper & ebook could really swing that trend into high gear.DRM and security. DRM especially could erode, or eliminate fair use.RFID as a way to track books. Does that count as wireless? WiFi I suppose deserves a mention, but that's about as trendy as blogs.Copyright, Fair Use, CIPA, eRate and so on. Legal issues have a huge impact on technology. Stuff like filters as well might fit in there. The law never seems to be on our side lately.Open Access. Still a new movement, but should be one we're all watching. I'm still not sure it'll be any larger in 5 years, but it could be the wave of the future. It's technology oriented because it's all dependent on computers and the web and technology. There's other things in there as well, OpenURL, open archives, LOCKSS, and all that jazz. Probably not all the same thing, but somewhat related.Open source in libraries. Librarians should really start to embrace open source! Somehow we need to make this a big trend.The coming "born digital" generation. What will they demand from us? Will they even care about us? They will be the ones that drive the trends.Politics and Budgets. They'll work together to kill off anything we want to do. Maybe overall govt. spending and taxes can fit in here too. I know this is not technology, but it's one thing working against all of us, and the single biggest threat to libraries.

Open source software is already very important - for example, blogs and RSS are both dependent on open source software. The state of Georgia is writing its own open source ILS system, and I wouldn't be surprised if in the next 5 years most of the ILS vendors go out of business, or switch to an open source model.

More info here

Some new items to watch out for in libraries: digital cameras that take images will replace photocopiers for many researchers. Already a patron can photograph a page of text, then take it home and ocr it to cut and paste. Ditto for color photos and images from books and journals. Neat, easy to use, and becoming ubiquitous. also cheaper than photocopying.

Another problem is the continuation of the "1967 Syndrome" and the "1995 Syndrome." 1967 is when many journals became electronically indexed, and many patrons will not use the paper indicies for older copies. If it was published before the electronic databases were formed, it doesn't exist. This is also true for webpages which came on board in 1995. If it isn't available online, it doesn't exist. The cure is to either index older journals and make them available online, or deal with only current information as our decision making base. What is really funny is the same people who insist anything older than 5 years is irrelevant, get angry when favorite webpages and service disappear from the Internet. Now they are crying for archiving obsolete webpages.

I hope a growing trend for publishers is to place their indicies online, and sell individual articles to the public without having expensive library contracts. Thus, you can search for the latest in AIDS research, printout only what you need, and pay for only those articles you want. Hopeflly, the price per article will come down.

A collorary of this is to have mega-search engines which can search a number of journal and web based research at the same time. It is silly to search one publisher, and then do the same search in another publisher's private database, then do it again in a third one. Search all for free and pay for what you want to see.

I agree that the Copyright laws need to be refined. It is silly to protect an author's rights past the author's death- no one else is gauranteed an income for their grandkids fifty years after they are dead.

Cataloging of PURLS for e-books is also needed. Project gutenberg and other online sites for e-books are great, but they are useless if the local public and school libraries don't add these locations to their online catalog. If two copies of Uncle tom's cabin are checked out from the library, the students should have backup access to the free online versions. However, this is an option in very few libraries.

Obsolete technology will need to be addressed (again). Many research libraries have things such as a collection of 5.25" diskettes that have needed infomration, but no readers to use the, If there is a computer around that can read the older system, it may not have the obsolete software such as WordStar or DBase I to manipulate the data. This will only increase as PDF formats and other systems evolve or become extinct. There will be a large hole in the scientific literature in just a few years.

Info for Georgia's OS ILS is here:

I'm wondering why they didn't hook up with the Koha project ( I'd guess that it would have something to do with goal differences between the two projects since I don't have time to read and compare the two now.

Teleportation will revolutionize ILL.

Probably won't be viable until at least 2008, if that.

database integration/interusability. On our little campus there are perhaps 6 db's of alums, students, etc. all of which don't/won't talk to each other. I noticed the same thing back in my first lib. job as a pro. in 92.

I guess the argument could be made that there is no "market" for this on the campus, or the invisible hand would have made it happen. Seems like it's a matter of turf protection and staff changeover too. But it is weird.

On the gadgets front, I think that pdaphones (smartphones/superphones?) are getting more ubiquitous. As are laptops in the library (we now count them on our headcount rounds to prove that we need wifi).

At a brown bag about Google Scholar I hosted, one faculty member brought up an intriguing idea: what if online publishers went to an iTunes model, charging 99 cents for an article? Making articles cheap and easy to buy from online could potentially devastate full-text databases.

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