IL2009: Technology: The Engine Driving Pop Culture-Savvy Libraries or Source of Overload?


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Speaker: Elizabeth Burns

Technology and pop culture drive each other. Librarians sometimes assume that people using technology like smart phones in libraries are wasting time, both theirs and ours, but we really don’t know how they are using tech. Librarians need to learn how to use the tech that their user community employs, so don’t hinder your staff by limiting what tech they can use while in the workplace.

Libraries also have the responsibility to inform users of the services and technology available to them. Get the tools, learn how to use them, and then get to work building things with them.

Your library’s tech trendspotting group needs more than just the techie people. Get the folks who aren’t as excited about the shiny to participate and ask questions. Don’t let the fear of Betamax stop you – explore new devices and delivery methods now rather than waiting to find out if they have longevity. You never know what’s going to stick.

Speaker: Sarah Houghton-Jan

"Information overload is the Devil"

Some people think that it didn’t exist before mobile phones and home computers, but the potential has always existed. Think about the piles of books you’ve acquired but haven’t read yet. Information overload is all of the piles of things you want to learn but haven’t yet.

"We have become far more proficient in generating information than we are in managing it…"

Librarians are more equipped to handle information overload than most others. Manage your personal information consumption with the same kind of tools and skills you use in your professional life.

Some of the barriers to dealing with information overload are: lack of time or (a perceived lack of time), lack of interest or motivation, not being encouraged/threatened by management, not knowing where to start, and frustration with past attempts. Become like the automatic towel dispensers that have the towels already dispensed and ready to be torn off as needed.

Inventory your inputs and devices. Think before you send/subscribe. Schedule yourself, including unscheduled work and tasks. Use downtime (bring tech that helps you do it). Stay neat. Keep a master waiting list of things that other people "owe" you, and then periodically follow-up on them. Weed, weed, and weed again. Teach others communication etiquette (and stick to it). Schedule unplugged times, and unplug at will.

RSS/Twitter overload: Limit your feeds and following, and regularly evaluate them. Use lists to organize feeds and Twitter friends. Use RSS when applicable, and use it to send you reminders.

Interruptive technology (phone, IM, texts, Twitter, etc): Use them only when they are appropriate for you. Check it when you want to, and don’t interrupt yourself. Use your status message. Lobby for IM or Twitter at your workplace (as an alternative to phone or email, for the status message function & immediacy). Keep your phone number private. Let it ring if you are busy. Remember that work is at work and home is at home, and don’t mix the two.

Email: Stop "doing email" — start scheduling email scanning time, use it when appropriate, and deal with it by subject. Keep your inbox nearly empty and filter your messages. Limit listservs. Follow good email etiquette. Delete and archive, and keep work and personal email separate.

Physical items: Just because you can touch it, doesn’t mean you should keep it. Cancel, cancel, cancel (catalogchoice.org). Weed what you have.

Multimedia: Choose entertainment thoughtfully. Limit television viewing and schedule your entertainment time. Use your commute to your benefit.

Social networking: Schedule time on your networks. Pick a primary network and point other sites towards it. Limit your in-network IM.

Time & stress management: Use your calendar. Take breaks. Eliminate stressful interruptions. Look for software help. Balance your life and work to your own liking, not your boss’s or your spouse’s.

[Read Lifehacker!]

thing 15: library/web 2.0


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Librarians should be on the forefront of providing information services to users, but for some reason, we have a sizable contingent who seem to think that the innovations of the 70s and 80s are good enough for now. They’re the ones most often reacting negatively to anyone who mentions anything Library 2.0.

Anytime someone mentions some new web tool or gadget, and you think or say, “We don’t need that in our library!” or “What would you want to use that for?” stop for a moment. Do you use a computer in your daily library work? Do you use email to communicate with your colleagues and users? Have you talked to someone on the phone recently? These are all technologies that at some point in time, someone(s) didn’t think were needed in a library. They were wrong.

Maybe you don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook to reach your users. (In fact, there have been many informal studies that indicate that students don’t want us in their social spaces.) But, you can use online social networking tools to expand your professional network, learn about what your colleagues are doing to improve services in their libraries, and share the things you are doing in your own library. Surely those are things that benefit the profession?

These things that people talk about as Web 2.0 are simply tools. You can choose how and when you will use them.

Library 2.0 has been used to describe a mindset that is open to exploring these tools and using them to enhance library services, but I think that has been a part of our profession for a long time. Library 2.0 was there when we began moving from card catalogs to online public access terminals. Library 2.0 was there when we opened up the stacks and allowed users to browse the shelves. Library 2.0 was there when we created free, circulating libraries that allowed anyone to access the knowledge they contained.

The philosophy of Library 2.0 isn’t anything new, we’re just using different words to describe what we already do best — exploring innovative ways to connect users with the information they are seeking.