ER&L 2014 — Freeing Knowldege: A Values Proposition

Barbara Fister at Left Coast Crime in 2008.
“Barbara Fister” by Mark Coggins

Speaker: Barbara Fister, Gustavus Adolphus College

She looked at a number of library mission statements, and they have a lot of passive terminology like “providing” for people and “life-long learning”. Our missions should be stronger to mirror the value the people see in libraries and our most deeply-held values.

Sometimes we’re more assertive. Take the Darien Statements from a few years ago, for example. “The purpose of the library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.” Char Booth says we’re shape-shifters, which is why we’re uncomfortable with these grandiose statements. But underneath all this, libraries remain the mavens of the information world.

We’ve internalized the commercialization of library services (from being like Barnes & Noble to becoming a copy of the Apple Genius Bar), to the detriment of our core values. We’re not a consumer good, but we are being viewed by some as such. Faculty, for example, consider us to be the purchaser of the things they need, and much less so a partner in information literacy.

We’re not Google or Amazon — we don’t spy on our users. So, it’s harder to figure out what our users need. And, our focus is hyper-local compared to the global data collected by G & A. Then there’s the financial piece — life-long learning means something different when we can’t (or won’t) provide access to our eresource once the student becomes an alumnus.

In the journal cancelation wars, big and global tends to win out over the small and quirky. But, now we can’t even afford the big and local, so we’re relying on ILL. “We’ll get it to you somehow.” The library isn’t really free to all, as much as we may want it to be.

One possible solution is to create communities of interest that isn’t limited by affiliation. We need to stop thinking of providers of stuff for a limited community, and to expand to connect our broader communities to knowledge. We need to work collectively across our borders to connect our infrastructures and services.

We need to provide alternatives to the market-driven philosophy that is destroying and corrupting our information ecosystem.

Another world is possible. Some associations, for example, are shifting their journals to open access models as they can. Some libraries are setting aside parts of their budgets to support open access experimental projects. The Oberlin Group is in conversations about creating a collective open access university press run by their libraries.

She spoke at length about faculty and library leadership opinions on this, which are pretty much what you would expect, and then went on at length about why we need open access, which is again, pretty much what you would expect.

We need libraries without borders.

ALA Virtual 2011: Currents of Change and Innovation

Moderator: Ann Coder, Library Services Manager, Brookhaven College

Speaker: Linda McCann, Director of Library Services, Bucks County Community College

Probably had something interesting to say, but her phone connection was so awful I tuned it out. Plus, I hate the “let me tell you useless stats about my institution” portion that for some reason people think is important to include in every presentation about something they did at their library.

In summary, they got rid of formats and collections that are no longer needed and converted the space into a popular (and apparently award winning) learning commons.

 

Speaker: Denise Repman, Dean of Library Services, Delgado Community College

Oy. Sound not much better on this one. Maybe it’s ALA’s connection? In summary: something something something new library buildings.

 

Speaker:  Theresa C. Stanley, Library Director, Pima Community College

Still crappy sound. In summary: they had to reduce their collection by 30%, so they removed duplicates and content no longer relevant to their current programs. Kept notes in a wiki and used a shared calendar to schedule the project, which is probably a good idea.

Learning 2009: Kindles, Sony Readers, iTouches, and iPhones

Presenters: Andy Morton, Olivia Reinauer, and Carol Wittig

The presenters brought three netbooks, three Kindle 2s, a Sony Reader, and an iTouch to pass around for attendees to handle. These are from the small collection recently purchased for experimenting with library and course use. They are hoping to get feedback or discussion about how the attendees think that they will impact classroom instruction.

While the Kindle is not likely to be very functional for traditional library services, rumors of the next version indicate that it will be more functional for textbook, newspaper, and media uses. This will definitely impact classroom activities. You can mark up text with notes, and it’s fully searchable, which could be handy for finding the notes you made to yourself.

Sony Reader uses the same kind of screen as the Kindle, but is smaller due to the lack of full keyboard. However, unlike the Kindle, it has a touch screen (and a stylus). There are expandable memory cards that can handle digital photos (in black & white) and audio. Like the Kindle, you can take notes on it. They’re also working with OCLC and Google Books to expand access to resources.

The iTouch and iPhone can make use of the Kindle software, and there are many other ebook apps as well. They are also useful for accessing internet applications on the fly. [Side note: I think I like this the best – one-handed touch-screen reading and much lighter than the dedicated ebook readers, but with a much larger screen than my old PDAs and brighter text.]

Netbooks are relatively inexpensive and easier to transport than full-size laptops. They’re certainly popular at conferences.

CIL 2009: New Strategies for Digital Natives

Speaker: Helene Blowers

Begins with a video of a 1yo. unlocking and starting up a Preschool Adventure game on an iPhone, and then paging through images in the photo gallery. Joey is a digital native and the future of library users.

Digital natives are those born after 1980. When they were 1, IBM distributed the first commercial PC. Cellular phones were introduced at the age of 3. By the time they were 14, the internet was born.

Web 1.0 was built on finding stuff, Web 2.0 was built on connecting with other users and share information. Digital natives are used to not only having access to the world through the internet, but also engaging with it.

Business Week categorized users by how they interact with the internet and their generation. This clearly lays out the differences between how the generations use this tool, and it should inform the way we approach library services to them.

Digital native realities:

  • Their identity online is the same as their in-person identity. They grew up with developing both at the same time, as oppose to those who came before. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flixster, and LinkedIn are the top five online social networks, according to a report in January. How many of them do you have an identity in?
  • The ability to create and leave your imprint somewhere is important to digital natives. According to the Pew Internet & American Life, those who participate in social networks are more likely to create unique content than those who do not.
  • We are seeing a shift from controlled information to collaborative information, so digital information quality has become important and a personal responsibility to digital natives. After a study showed that Wikipedia was as accurate as Britannica resulted in EB adding a wiki layer to their online presence.
  • Digital natives have grown up in a world they believe to be safe, whether it is or not. Less than 0.08% of students say that they have met someone online without their parents knowledge, and about 65% say that they ignored or deleted strangers that tried to contact them online. However, that doesn’t stop them from intentionally crossing that line in order to rebel against rules.
  • Digital opportunity is huge. There are no barriers, the playing field has been leveled, access is universal, connection ubiquitous, and it’s all about me.
  • Digital sharing is okay. It’s just sharing. They aren’t concerned with copyright or ownership. Fanfic, mashups, remixes, parodies… Creative Commons has changed the way we look at ownership and copyright online.
  • Privacy online and in their social networks is not much of a concern. Life streams aggregate content from several social networks, providing the big picture of someone’s online life.
  • What you do online makes a difference — digital advocacy. This was clear during the US presidential election last year.

What does this mean for libraries? How do we use this to support the information needs of our users?

Think about ways to engage with virtual users — what strategies do we need in order to connect library staff and services with users in meaningful ways? Think about ways to enrich the online experience of users that then enhances their experiences in the physical library and their daily lives. Think about ways to empower customers to personalize and add value to their library experience so that they feel good about themselves and their community.

professionally annoyed

I don’t understand the appeal that the anonymous blogger “Annoyed Librarian” has among certain segments of the profession. When s/he entered the blogosphere, I read the entries for a while, mainly because so much buzz had been generated around them. But, after a while, the bitter negativity wore me down and I started avoiding it.

I know things aren’t perfect in Libraryland. We have a lot of work to do to catch up with the tools and services that our for-profit competitors provide. Will we be able to move forward and fix what needs fixing if we spend all of our time wallowing in complaints and self-hatred? No.

I put on my metaphorical ass-kicking boots every day and try to do what I can in my job to make library services and resources more accessible and functional for my library’s users. Occasionally, I do slide into fruitless complaining — we all do — but I don’t stay there for long. I’m lucky to have good people working with me, and as long as we support each other, it will be alright.

There was a flurry of tweets, blog postings, and other social media exclamations of WTF? when American Libraries Library Journal hired the Annoyed Librarian to be an official blogger for the magazine. I shrugged it off, since I rarely read the American Libraries Library Journal website anyway, unless I’m looking for an article I want to share with a colleague. However, it seems that was only the tip of the iceberg. Volume 5, issue 4 of Haworth’s Journal of Access Services is an entire issue of essays written by the Annoyed Librarian.

The Journal of Access Services. The “one-of-a-kind, peer-reviewed quarterly journal” that “covers the full range of access issues affecting libraries today.” Seriously? An entire issue of a journal subtitled “Service Innovations for 21st Century Libraries” is now dedicated to an anonymous someone who’s best known for trashing any sort of innovation or philosophy that the Librar* 2.0 movement puts forward? What were they thinking?

ETA: Wrong library journal up there. Fixed it. Also, an indication of how much that concerned me, no?

Addendum: It seems that not all members of the Journal of Access Services editorial board were aware of the decision to make the special issue entirely Annoyed.