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Eric Schnell Wonders Will the Next Generation of Library Systems be Customer Generated?
It's no wonder that library systems of tomorrow are really just library systems of yesterday. It seems to me that as a profession we are stuck in a bad relationship with our systems and vendors. We just can't figure out a way to get out of it. Are we happy that III will not give us APIs? Are we so insecure with our relationship with them that we are content to take what they give us? Do we feel we are that powerless?
Eric Schnell asks Does the Medici Effect Work for Libraries? "Libraries looking to become more innovative can do so by intentionally creating an environment/organization in the Medici Effect can occur. This can be accomplished very simply by strategic reassignment of staff in key areas as the candidate did."
Is librarianship a profession that nurtures creativity? Lately I am not so sure. Reaction to the recent do-it-yourself project released about modifying a talking teddy bear to speak your RSS feed of your tweets as well as your friends brings something to mind.
Why just condemn it and move on? This actually present a unique opportunity. For example, purchasing a good Text-to-Speech voice from an outfit like Cepstral would allow you to cannibalize the software for that project to create a running audio stream reading an RSS feed you generate. If your OPAC supports generating RSS feeds of data like new books or newly returned books, you have a unique data set to play with. You could use an audio feed of such to give airport-like announcements of new books on their way in to the library. You could use that as your "hold music". While you might need a programmer on-hand to smooth over the rough edges in the software, this is an easy way to be creative.
One big thing about our profession is that we do not define creativity as the world around us does. That can be both good and bad. The way to handle the omnipresent relevance question is to take stock of two key things. The first is understanding what the minimum acceptable level of service is that your patrons expect. The second is being able to creatively work with what you have rather than what you don't have to either meet or beat those expectations.
Glitz and tech won't always get people in the door. There are people out in the world who don't know what a blog is or why Twitter should matter to them. There are people who cannot live without Twitter every moment of the day. For public libraries in particular, a key mission is to serve all sorts of demographic groups who make up the "public" you serve. In other library types the pressure is not as significant but it remains.
As culture splinters into ever-smaller niches it becomes an issue in serving those niches. Libraries cannot necessarily be all things to all people. Getting to the point of being something to most people is a start from which you have to build off using creative talent held by library staff.
After all, the splintering into niches has yet to cease in the United States...
On a fog-drizzled Monday afternoon, this fading medieval city feels like a forgotten place. Apart from the obligatory Gothic cathedral, there is not much to see here except for a tiny storefront museum called the Mundaneum, tucked down a narrow street in the northeast corner of town. It feels like a fittingly secluded home for the legacy of one of technology’s lost pioneers: Paul Otlet.
In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”
Shopping is a way of interacting with the world around us: "This means searching becomes a way for us to interact with the world around us, an experiental horizon where certain aspects loom large in the foreground while others are pushed into the background," he explains.
In particular, his research focuses on what is actually going on when we are "window shopping", i.e. strolling round and "just looking" at things without having a clear idea of what we are looking for. The people he has been studying search patiently for certain things, but more than anything, they are searching for the feeling of having found something that is better and finer that they could have imagined. At this point they have stretched the boundaries of what would be reasonable to expect to find.
Over at Trends in the Living Networks Ross Dawson participated in a Future Directions Forum at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, which after 20 years in its current location is looking to the future. He says The session raised many interesting questions and thoughts. His points below represent his perspectives as well as reflections on issues raised by people at forum. While the issues below were raised in the context of museums in areas like science, technology, and design, I think you'll be able to connect some of them to libraries as well.
Most of us deal with a computer every single day. Some of us enjoy the experience more than others but we all share one common need.
Visual real estate.
In other words, we have one or more monitors and using those we can look at a given number of things. After a certain number, depending on your setup, you hit a point of diminishing returns. In other words, if you open too many windows, you'll clutter up your screen(s) to the point that they're unreadable.
Well, this could fix that. It could also have fascinating implications for the storage and retrieval of data. Think of it as microfilm 2.0.
As many libraries make the transition to RFID tags, the implications of processing high volumes of materials become larger. The greatest thing about RFID tags is that, with proper technology, you can read multiple tags at the same time. Barcodes still require a one at a time read.
Now a new technology allows not only the simultaneous reading of hundreds of RFID tags, but also the simultaneous reading of different types of RFID antennae with the ability to assess and acquire information on new tags previously unknown to the reader.
Hundreds of items at a time? Sign this circ jerk up!
When it comes to the gathering, coalescing, and analysis of data, most places can't compete with the United States CIA. I think a lot of library types would like to know some of their secrets, at least when it comes to data and information processing.
Well, now you can.
The CIA recently released a book titled Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Obviously, the book is aimed more towards people working for or with the CIA, but there's some interesting bits in their for the information science nerd too. The book is available online in its full text glory if you've got the interest.