Library Futures

Library as Aggregator and Publisher

Here’s a bit from Brian Mathews’ post Using Students to Manage the Social Streams.

Additionally I want to promote other efforts on campus. The Career Center and all their workshops, the various free talks and performances, tutoring and writing assistance, etc. Tapping into the lifecycle of the student and pushing appropriate content to them, regardless if it is library-orientated or not. I want the Library to be in-the-know on campus affairs.

This is a productive way to use social media but the larger story – thinking of the library as an aggregator and publisher of host system information – is much more important than the particular expression of it.

This is interesting in itself, true. But it is even more exciting considering it is a step closer to thinking about libraries as aggregators and publishers of information from individuals and groups participating in the same host system as the library.

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National Library Symbol History & Implications

From ALA Library Fact Sheet 30:

The image debuted in its official capacity in the 1982 ALA publication, A Sign System for Libraries, by DeVore and Mary S. Mallery, and was the cover story of the September 1982 issue of ALA’s member magazine, American Libraries. DeVore’s original design scheme for the image (similar to the image shown below) was an opaque white silhouette against a blue (specifically, PMS #285 blue) background.

This is a great symbol on a number of levels. It’s striking, memorable, and the “L” is clever. If I were DeVore or Mallery I’d be so proud to see this symbol all over.

But characterizing libraries as places where people read alone was a mistake.

Here’s another take. It isn’t as clear – a major shortcoming for a symbol – but it is a more accurate way to describe how we should be thinking about libraries. There’s still room for solitary reading, sure. But there’s more going on. There are people. Not only do we need to think of our institutions in these terms, we need to convince the public to think of us like this too. Otherwise, more libraries will turn into kiosks.

The article “Tomes’ time might be up at Newport Beach library” gets it all wrong. We shouldn’t be concerned about library spaces without books. We should be concerned about library spaces without librarians. However, our current offerings and our representative symbol tell a story in which a bookless library makes less sense than a librarianless library.

We can change that narrative by emphasizing not content, but people and interactions.

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New Library Building Will House Single Moms

As libraries transition away from collecting commercial content the most successful organizations will be those that become community experts, help solve problems, and improve people’s lives.

Here’s an example from Vancouver, B.C. The public library has teamed up with other organization and “the neediest neighbourhood in Vancouver is getting a new library with housing attached for single mothers and children.”

“It is so fitting because the YWCA’s values and principles so closely match the library’s. Both are organizations that are committed to human advancement and dignity. We are both committed to supporting people, children, youth and adults so that they can reach their full potential,” Singh said. “How better to support mothers and their children than providing safe and supportive housing above their neighbourhood library

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Report on Library eBooks from The Digital Solution

Before you go hunting for your library card, there are a few factors to consider. While there are positives to borrowing eBooks from a library, the process has significant limitations that can be frustrating.

New Way to Check Out eBooks gives a fair assessment of all of the issues surrounding, and actually using the OverDrive Media Console. The only plus she mentions? Library eBooks are free. But related to that, the author writes:

The idea of waiting for a book with many people lined up to borrow it is enough to inspire even some of the most frugal readers to cough up the dough to buy digital books.

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Unlimited Streaming for Amazon Prime Members

The trend of electronic content becoming more available and less expensive continues. Amazon Prime members can now stream 5000 movies and TV shows for free. Going up against Netflix takes guts but surely they have some confidence from their success with electronic book content.

More from Ars Technica.

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Content, Creation and Convenience

Middax offers a service whereby it delivers five dinner recipes each week plus corresponding ingredients, right to the customer’s door.

Part of me find this ridiculous, especially because I love going to the grocery store. Another part of me finds this model – providing actual stuff to create with along with creation resources – compelling.

More at Springwise.

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Lou Rosenfeld on Librarian Jobs and Skills

Twenty years ago, when we were young professionals, libraries and newspapers were places you’d go to work. They really aren’t any longer.

That’s probably news to a lot of us.

The skills themselves have more relevance than ever. They’re just not stand-alone positions that you do in particular kinds of buildings. Instead, they’ve become things you need to know to at least some degree wherever you are. They’ve moved from vertical to horizontal.

I’d agree with his statement more if he wrote “They’re not just stand-alone positions” instead of the other way around.

The full post: The problem in going from vertical to horizontal.

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Google’s Decreasingly Useful Search

Marco Arment has a good recap of some of the problems of searching using Google.

His conclusion?

Much of this will be (or currently is) solved the old-fashioned way: personal recommendations and trusted authorities. But these can’t cover the breadth of available information that web searchers need. I don’t know what will, or when, but it’s desperately needed.

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Ensuring the Library’s Future

The Special Libraries Association has started a project called Future Ready 365 which features a blog post every day about libraries and the future. Many of them are nice little bits to chew on for moment or two.

Check out What does Future Ready look like for a UX Librarian? by Debra Kolah and Re-embracing the “Shush”–Can the Library be a Quiet Place in the Age of Social? by Greg Lambert.

I contributed a short piece that is sort of a recap of things I’ve been writing at LJ and here. I’ll paste it below:

Libraries have been following trends in the larger information world in an attempt to remain relevant. Libraries have strived to be nimble, flexible, and experimental, integrating popular tools and devices so that their offerings make sense to their patrons. Top Tech Trends panels at conferences prime librarians for what’s coming down the pike with the implication that libraries will gain some ground if they’re early adopters.

All of this is fine. Necessary, even. But it isn’t going to secure libraries a place in the future. Why?

This approach is reactive and it makes libraries beholden to the whims of industry. The current eBook quagmire is a perfect example of this. Most people that use commercial digital content are getting their needs filled outside of libraries. Some librarians cling to the notion of libraries as commercial content providers and are trying to fight over the remaining scraps.

This approach is shallow. It emphasizes matching library operations with people’s behaviors, not their motivations. It doesn’t matter, for instance, that some library users use Twitter. What really matters is that some library users want to broadcast their lives and read about other people’s lives. Libraries shouldn’t be concerned with using a hammer. They should be concerned with building something.

Instead of looking to technology for relevance, libraries ought to look at the lives of their patrons and the issues in their communities. Libraries user research budgets should be as big as their tech budgets. Libraries that do things like develop patron personas and conduct ethnographic studies will know not just what people do, but why they do it and what they’re trying to accomplish.

Those libraries can evolve into supportive, problem solving institutions, integrated into their communities.

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The Atlas of New Librarianship

The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

I have a feeling this is going to be a great book. More info at Virtual Dave…Real Blog.

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