RALC Lightening Round Micro-Conference: Morning Sessions

Andy Morton:  “5-minute madness – The Madness Concept
He’s on the desk at the moment, so he made a video.

Teresa Doherty: “Cool sounds for Aleph Circ Transactions”
Originally presented at ELUNA as a poster session. They use custom sounds and colors to indicate specific circulation transaction alerts, i.e. checkin/checkout alerts. The sounds were selected because they’re short and fairly expressive without being offensive to users who may hear them.

Amanda Hartman: “Reaching Millennials: Understanding and Teaching the Next Generation” 
Those born 1980-1996-ish. These are generalizations, so they don’t describe everyone fully. They’re special and sheltered, team and goal oriented, more likely to be involved in community service, digital natives (mainly mobile tech) but don’t necessarily understand all of the implications or functions, impatient, and multi-taskers. They consider themselves to be relatively savvy searchers, so they may be less likely to ask for help. They have certain expectations about tech that libraries often can’t keep up with. They want learning to be participatory and active, with opportunities to express themselves online, and they have a sense of entitlement – get good grades for hard work, not necessarily for the product of the work. Libraries should have a mobile website. Hire staff that can support tech questions. Provide group workspaces. Explain why, not just how.

Deborah Vroman: “Errors, errors, everywhere! Common citation errors in Literature Resources from Gale”
Until recently, Gale was giving incorrect page ranges for citations for articles reprinted in their collections.  The problem is now fixed by removing the page numbers.

Anna Creech: “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Uh, that’s me.

Suzanne Sherry: “Goodreads: I read, you read, everybody READS”
Social networking site for readers. You start off with read, to-read, and currently reading, but you can add other tags that then form collections. Once you’ve read a book, you can rate it and write a review. While you’re reading the book, you can leave comments with updates of your progress. The social element is handy for recommending books to friends and discussing the books you read. There are tools for virtual book clubs and online communities for local book clubs.

Nell Chenault: “Scanning to Save or Send”
They have 12 scanning stations, both Mac and PC, including two slide scanners. Also, they have microform scanners instead of the old light box machines. In the past five years, they’ve seen use increase 325%.

Abiodun Solanke: “Netbooks or Laptops” 
In the last hardware replacement cycle, they replaced circulating laptops with netbooks. Cost, capabilities, and portability were factors considered. Some specialized programs could not be loaded, but there are many desktop computer alternatives. Student reaction appears to be divided along gender – male students thought they were too small, but female students liked them. They did a survey of users borrowing the netbooks, and found that over time the negative comments reduced. They concluded that initial reactions to new things aren’t always indicative of their success. Currently would like to add netbooks with Mac OS.

Darnell Law: “Up In The Air: Text-A-Librarian and Mobile Technologies at Johnston Memorial Library”
Implemented service at the end of the spring semester, so they haven’t seen much use yet. They’re using a service called Text a Librarian. Users enter a specific number and a short code at the beginning of the message. The questions are answered through the service website. The phone numbers are anonymized. Some of the advantages of this service include working with any carrier, not requiring a cell phone to answer the texts, relatively inexpensive (~$1100/yr), answer templates for quick responses, and promotional materials.

unvocab debut

I made my debut on Uncontrolled Vocabulary the other evening. Everyone on the call were folks I had met at one point while at Computers in Libraries last week, and it kind of made my heart ache a little less to hear them all again. I called in on the ShoePhone, but it was glitchy, and I probably won’t use it again. Dunno if it was a TalkShoe problem or a ClearWire problem, but I think my cell phone would sound better.

So, go listen to the episode and revel in our memories of CiL!

it’s cold here

This morning, I walked past a young man who was wearing shorts and talking on his cell phone. I was bundled up in my winter gear and still feeling the bite of the below-freezing temperature, and walking as fast as I could to get indoors. As I passed him, I heard him say, “yeah, it’s cold here.”

Dude. It’s almost December and you’re at the North 47th parallel. Of course it’s cold here! Put on a pair of pants, fer cryin’ out loud!

a few things

On Sunday, I tried out Skype for the first time. I had installed it on my laptop and gotten a headset and microphone earlier in the week because I had a phone interview with Susan Werner scheduled on Saturday. I thought I could use Skype and record the conversation to my laptop. Instead, I ended up using a speaker phone and recording the conversation to minidisc. So, it wasn’t until Sunday that I decided to give it a go and call my parents via Skype’s free domestic calls special (until the end of the year). Impressive. The sound quality was better than what I usually get on my cheap cell phone.

The interview with Susan Werner was awesome and a lot of fun. My week has been a bit much, but I hope to have the transcript transcribed and edited for public consumption by Saturday. It will be posted here as well as on Blogcritics.org. If you haven’t downloaded Susan’s alternative national anthem (“My Strange Nation”) yet, do it now.

Also on Sunday, I decided I’d better finally watch the two Netflix DVDs I’ve had for nearly two months. That was when I discovered I had misplaced them. After a frantic ten minute search of the house, I gave up and instead watched some stuff I’d downloaded a while ago. I let it simmer until last night, when in a flash of insight after some more searching I remembered one more place I might have stashed them, and there they were. However, by that point it was nearing midnight and I decided that Battlestar Galactica and Crash can wait for the weekend. Particularly since I’ll have Monday off, too!

nasig part three

The Friday vision session was given by Marshall Keys. He spoke about the chaotic transitions brought on by technology. He said that the “future of libraries depends on their ability to meet the emerging needs of users” and that we need to first understand what those needs are. None of us know what tools we will be using in libraries in the future, but we should keep aware of trends and try to anticipate them.

Keys talked about the “blog mentality” of the younger generation of library users:

  • What I think is important
  • What I think is important to other people
  • Something is important because I think it is important (“Whatever” corrolary: If I don’t think it is important… whatever.)
  • Privacy is unimportant
  • Community is important

The last two aspects of the “blog mentality” are particularly relevant to library technology. Emerging users want community, personalization, and portable technology, and they are willing to have it all at the expense of a loss of privacy. For example, they want to know what their peers are interested in, and they can get that kind of information from places like Amazon, Netflix, and Friendster, but not from the library catalog.

Another point on technology that Keys made about our emerging users is that the phone is their primary information appliance, and as the sales of ringtones indicate, these users are willing to pay for the ability to customize their tools. One not-so-emerging proponent of a phone as a primary information appliance is the Shifted Librarian herself, Jenny Levine, and her treasured Treo. She and Marshall Keys would make for an interesting pair.

Side note: I am writing this in the SeaTac airport while waiting for my shuttle back to Ellensburg. At a nearby table is a ten year old girl and her little sister along with her father. Just now, he was having trouble with something on his cell phone, and she took it and showed him how to do what he wanted to do. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that someone so young would know more about how to use the phone than the person who owns it, but I am anyway.

The point that Keys was trying to make was that if emerging users consider their phones to be primary sources of information, then we need to be developing reference tools that acknowledge that reality. There are text message services that answer questions quickly for a nominal fee, and if our users are more inclined to pay for that service rather than come to us through traditional methods, then we need to consider ways to implement similar services. We also need to face the reality that a majority of library functions can be outsourced off-shore, including technical services and reference services. If we aren’t preparing for this eventuality, then it will be even more difficult once it happens.

Keys stated that, “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” If we aren’t prepared to provide accurate information quickly to our users in the formats they prefer, then we will become irrelevant.