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A few heretical thoughts about library tech trends
"This is a blog devoted to covering new tech that might be used for libraries to benefit users. That said, there are times when I wonder whether some of the current tech trends that are hot now will end up being duds or dead ends (in fact some definitely will, the million dollar question is which ones!). It's very easy to get into a condition that some have dubbed as "techno-lust", so let me play devil's advocate this once and share with you some heretical thoughts I have had about library tech."
The Future Of The Library Is Not The Apple Store
My main reason for arguing why we should avoid modeling future libraries on Apple Stores is that the whole point of designing a user experience is to create something unique and fun for your local user community – and which is based on the needs of the local community. Apple Stores have the luxury of being somewhat cookie cutter in how they are modeled.
Interesting analysis from Philip Nel's blog Nine Kinds of Pie:
When I posted news of my “Censoring Children’s Literature” course last month, several people (well, OK, one person …maybe two) expressed an interest in hearing more about the course. So, given that Banned Books Week is coming up next week, here’s an update. Having lately been examining two versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle (1920, 1988) and three versions of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964, 1973, 1998), we’ve been addressing this question: Do Bowdlerized texts alter the ideological assumptions of the original? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
Blog entry here.
More and more, I find that the library profession’s efforts to stay relevant in the age of information technology are in fact eroding our relevance. As a result of these efforts, it is becoming less and less clear what we offer that is different from what everybody else offers in the information economy. The reason is that our response to change around us has mostly been to repress those aspects of librarianship that are not directly reflected in new technological tools that other people claim as their domain more securely than we do. We keep saying that as librarians we are web designers, information architects, web searchers, information scientists, user experience experts, and on and on, when each of those things is already a profession filled with people who make a stronger claim to it than we do. What we can claim is librarianship, yet most people – not only outside but within the profession – have forgotten what that consists of other than “books.”
Why we (probably) won't have a Semantic Web.
Some crazy librarian:
My point is that our understanding of the purpose of the Web is wrong. And our understanding of machines is wrong. Just as our understanding of other people is wrong. We can't possibly know the purpose of the Internet. First, we didn't make it. Second, it was designed with only one purpose, to make access to data easier.
I like this emphasis on the value of time. It calls to mind Ranganathan's injunction to save the time of the user. And although expressions like 'consumption management' or 'sorting out demand' may not be uppermost in our minds, it seems to me that they are very much in the spirit of the double injunction "every book its reader" and "every reader his or her book". As resources become more abundant and as time becomes scarcer we need better and better ways of making this match. And this includes finding better ways of aggregating and using intentional and contributed metadata alongside our professionally produced metadata.
The questions were:
1.What would you do in your library if you had all the time, money and skills you needed?
2.What will the library of 2020 look like?
3.What skills will librarians need for the library of 2020?
4.What will we need to drop as we move to 2020?
Here are the answers. Feel free to click through to the images to leave a note on Flickr about points you agree or disagree with.
Want to keep up on what's happening with efforts around the country to help save libraries? There's a great new site for that, appropriately named Save Libraries. Their motto is "When one library is in trouble, ALL libraries are in trouble." This project is being run by Lori Reed and Heather Braum. They can’t do this alone and are looking for additional help creating and maintaining the content on this site.
Save Libraries is a grassroots effort to compile information about libraries in need of our support. Save Libraries will aggregate information about current advocacy efforts, archive advocacy efforts, and provide links to resources for libraries facing cuts. The project began barely two weeks ago, and is already attracting attention.
Please email us at savelibs (at) gmail (dot) com for questions, comments, or concerns. Please tag your Web content with savelibraries to make it easier for us to find and collect it.
Kudos to none other than our own Blake Carver and LISHost.org for donating hosting for this site and getting WordPress up and running within minutes. This site is dedicated to advocacy for libraries–getting the message out about why libraries are important.
We’re looking for advocacy information, testimonials from patrons and staff, photos, videos, anything to help save our libraries. Please pitch in!! Use the tag savelibraries or #savelibraries on Twitter. If you would like to contribute to this site please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wayne Bivens-Tatum "Libraries Never Change"
This snapshot of library criticism from 75 years ago shows us both that libraries have in practice and principle changed dramatically in that time and in unpredictable ways. The only thing that hasn't seemed to change is the relentless criticism we apply to ourselves and our profession, the insistence that we are out of touch somehow with the larger world, that we've been "switched out of the current of social change, occupying a niche or eddy" of our own
Traditionalists v. Modernisers? From Times Online UK:
"Libraries gave us power”, the first line of the Manic Street Preachers’ Design for Life, powerfully articulates the value of a great utilitarian civic service. The lyricist Nicky Wire was prompted to write the song after a trip to the Victorian branch library in Pillgwenlly, Newport, where the phrase “Knowledge is power” sits above the door. Now, by way of a symbolic gesture to the march of progress, they adorn Cardiff’s new £15 million six-storey glass-and-concrete central library, which opened last summer complete with a white baby-grand piano and a Wagamama outlet.
The recently released Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review ring-fenced the Libraries Act 1964, effectively preserving libraries as a cornerstone of our culture. However, its talk of free e-books, social networking use, community diversity and commercial links has fuelled a fierce debate about the purpose of a library in the modern age.
Talk to both sides and there is a clear schism between traditionalists and modernisers. For one it is about books and silence, for the other it’s about community usage, Facebook and cups of coffee or, in the words of Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate and now the chairman of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, “shhh and fining or Starbucks and PCs”.
Thanks to Trevor Dawes for the tip.