CiL 2008 Keynote: Libraries Solve Problems!

Speaker: Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project

[Prez of InfoToday, in his introduction, announced that 2202 attendees are registered for this conference with 49 states (no one from Wyoming), Puerto Rico, D.C., and 18 countries (7 Canadian provinces) represented. 186 speakers and moderators this year!]

[House-keeping note from Jane Dysart: The men’s restroom on the ballroom level is now a women’s restroom, so the guys will have to go up to the exhibit level. There was much rejoicing.]

Rainie began by apologizing for not originally including librarians as stakeholders in the work of PIALP. This year, his new grant proposal lists librarians at the top, which was well received by the audience. He thanked librarians for their active involvement with the Pew project.

Bloggers were thanked for raising awareness of the Pew project, and for praising Rainie’s past presentations. Yay, bloggers! New media rocks. “Blogging is about community and connection as much as it is about publishing.”

In 2000, studies showed that most Internet connections were via dial-up, and no one was using wireless. In 2007, more than 50% of Americans now access the Internet via broadband, and 62% connect via wireless, both through computers or through cell phones. Wireless connectivity is decreasing the digital divide, and it also responsible for the resurgence of the value of email. “The reports of the death of email are premature.”

Information and communication technology tools are now so interconnected that it’s changing the way we think about information storage and retrieval. The Internet is becoming our storage device, which we access through various portals such as cell phones, TiVo, and yes, computers.

39% of online teens share their creative content through sites like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. 33% of college students blog, and 54% read them. However, many are blogging through social networking tools or course management tools and they don’t necessarily identify them as blogs. Avatars are now considered to be creative content, which is something I hadn’t thought about before.

A recent grant research with funding from IMLS and in partnership with IUC, PIALP looked at how folks get information from government sources to solve problems. 79.5% of the adults surveyed had, in the past two years, had an information need that could have been satisfied by information from government agencies. Gen Y (18-30) were the most likely to have visited a library in their search for information (62%), followed closely by Gen X (31-42) at 58%. (Psst… 60% of online teens use the Internet at libraries, up from 36% in 2000!)

Don’t listen to the naysayers who claim that the Internet is killing libraries. Public library users are more likely to be Internet users. Those who are information seekers are more likely to be adventurous in exploring information sources. Broadband users are also more likely to use a public library, and there is no difference in the patronage of libraries based on ethnicity. Young adults are more likely to visit a library to solve a problem than any other age group!

Users talked to library staff to solve their information needs slightly more than using the technology provided by the library, which were the top two ways that they found solutions to their problems. Gen Y users are generationally most likely to return to a library. Rainie thinks that because Gen Y users have been forced to use libraries through school projects, and they have seen how libraries have grown and changed over the years to meet their needs, so they have a good feeling about libraries as a source for solving their problems.

Rainie’s take-away message is that libraries need to do more publicity about how they can solve problems. “The people who know you best are the ones that keep coming back.” Let’s tell our success stories to more than just each other, which we already do a pretty good job of. Give our fans the tools to evangelize and provide feedback, and they can have a significant impact on raising awareness of libraries. Create a comfortable environment for “un-patrons” so that they aren’t afraid to ask questions and learn the technology. Become a node in social networks. (For example, Facebook apps for searching library resources or communicating with reference librarians may not be as unwanted as we might think they are.)

Rainie is an engaging speaker that I look forward to hearing from him in the future.

wildfire on the reservation

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I heard a brief news report on NPR about a wildfire on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Immediately I listened closer to catch any references to locations I may know, and was rewarded with a mention of the city of Lander. I’ve never been to the Wind River Reservation, but several years ago I read through most of the mystery books written by Margaret Coel that take place on the reservation. Coel is a native of Colorado, but has spent enough time with the Arapaho and on the reservation to be able to write it well. She based her Father John O’Malley’s St. Francis Mission on the existing St. Stephen’s Indian Mission.1

The two main protagonists in the series are a disgraced Jesuit priest who is a recovering alcoholic and an Arapaho woman who has returned to the reservation after many years away in the city working as an attorney. These two are an unlikely pair of sleuths, and they both have personal baggage that hinders their ability to discern the truth. The novels are as stark as the descriptions of the wind-swept reservation and offer little comfort; however, they are a convenient vehicle for conveying Arapaho history to the ignorant like myself.

  1. The Eagle Catcher (1995)
  2. The Ghost Walker (1996)
  3. The Dream Stalker (1997)
  4. The Story Teller (1998)
  5. The Lost Bird (1999)
  6. The Spirit Woman (2000)
  7. The Thunder Keeper (2001)
  8. The Shadow Dancer (2002)
  9. Killing Raven (2003)
  10. Wife of Moon (2004)

this land is your land

A geographic meme, courtesy of Sorcha. Also, places where US paper currency I have spent in the past four and a half years have gone.

bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now…

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

KY to WA – day three

I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning.

I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning. We slept in later than we aught to have for our nine hour drive to Twin Falls, but it was worth it. The coffee at the cafe was good, although I was disappointed that their wi-fi connection was having trouble. Earlier this week I commented on enjoying my mini Internet vacation. While I am still enjoying this state of transition and disconnection with the real world, I also know that there were at least 20 messages in my inbox when I checked it late on the evening of Day One. One can only imagine how many there must be now.

After breakfast, we located a geocache near the interstate and pulled out a travel bug to take with us. This bug is trying to visit as many Starbucks as possible. I think we can help with that.

We hadn’t been on the road very long before the coffee kicked in for Dad, so we stopped at the next rest stop. It turned out to contain a memorial for the Lincoln highway, and while Dad used the facilities, I took some pictures. Then we got back on the road and continued west. Shortly before one in the afternoon (local time), we crossed over the Great Divide at 7,000 feet. It wasn’t particularly breath-taking, just a sign along the road.

About an hour after that, we stopped at a rest stop and located the third and final rest stop cache on our trip. I think there were others, but I must have forgotten to download them or lost them somehow.

Dad & I marveled over the changes in the landscape as we drove across southern Wyoming, the northwest corner of Utah, and into Idaho. It seemed that with every mile, the terrain changed dramatically. We went from flat, rolling plains that suddenly opened up to reveal a vast valley with mountains in the distance as we descended. We skirted around mountains and hills that rose up into the sky out of empty plains. The vegetation changed from scattered grasses and brushes to thick grasslands and copses of trees. At one point in Utah we saw a pull-over for a scenic view and seized the opportunity to take pictures of the beauty around us. The official scenic view is a rock formation called the Devil’s Slide for obvious reasons.

As the sun sank into the horizon, blinding us and masking the landscape around us, we pulled into Twin Falls. The main drag into town was a haven of consumerism we had not seen in many thousands of miles of driving. It reminded me of Hamburg Pavilion in Lexington. We drove by all the restaurants and stores, dazzled by the unexpectedness of it all. At first we thought we’d try out one of the restaurant food options, but after we checked into the motel and unloaded the car, we settled on a pizza and bad TV.


Satan … er … Fred Phelps is at it again.

Satan … er … Fred Phelps is at it again. This time he wants to put a religious gay-bashing monument in Casper, Wyoming. Casper is the hometown of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was brutally murdered because he was gay. Phelps and his crew of devils church members crudely protested at Shepard’s funeral, among other vicious and un-Christian acts of hate. [thanks aw]

“Nothing has so occupied and mysteriously seized the imagination of the world media to compare with Matt Shepard,” Phelps said. “It is a phenomenon. It all comes back to Casper, Wyoming. That is his home, that is where he was born, where that church is, where those institutions … conspired in a confluence of evil resulting in a Zeitgeist that is extraordinarily evil.

“He (Shepard) was not a hero,” Phelps added. “This is a great monster sin against God. It is not an innocent alternate lifestyle. And all that has come down in that one little evil town called Casper, Wyoming. And we can’t ignore that.”