Author Archives: Jennifer

Internet Librarian 2012 – The Next Big Thing!

The last session of the Library Issues & Challenges track I moderated on Monday was The Next Big Thing, a chance for people to hear the big ideas and big plans of their peers. Yeah, we had Sarah Houghton (San Rafael Public Lib) and Ben Bizzle (Craighead Cty Jonesboro Public Lib) and David Hesse and Brian Pichman (Mokena Public Lib) giving their thoughts first, but then we opened it up to the audience.

And man, did they have ideas. Louise Alcorn of the Des Moines Public Library was our Madam of Awesome and took pages of notes as people told us what their Next Big Things were personally, professionally, organizationally, and what they thought was next for librarianship as a whole.

Here’s what they had to say:
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Internet Librarian Day 1 – Moderating Track D, Library Issues & Challenges

Today, I’m moderating Track D: Library Issues & Challenges along with Michael Sauers of the Nebraska Library Commission. This track is an experiment, where we encourage more interaction and participation from the audience. We’ve got them at round tables instead of in rows of chairs, and we’ve asked our speakers to keep the “talking head” mode to a minimum and to encourage lots of questions and contributions from the folks out there. It worked really well at Computers in Libraries 2012, and now we’re trying it at Internet Librarian.

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Internet Librarian, Day 1 – Keynote

I’m going to try for one post a day

David Weinberger, Opening Keynote

“Libraries as Platforms”

Not just about resources being digital – “The real change is in the networking.”
Library as Platform, with some advantages:

  • provides a unifying framework
  • social networks taken seriously
  • increases the value of the library, both perceived and real

Mentioned J.L. Austen, philospher.
Allows access to resources, encourages community networks to arise, including knowledge networks,

Knowledge networks are really big (huge scale) and have many many links – just like the internet.

Our brains are really small – just one kilogram of matter – and yet we want to know everything with it.”
We’ve come up with strategies to deal with this:

  • We need to filter.
    We divvy the world of knowledge up into brain-sized chunks, put those chunks into people and call them experts.
    We also take the products of those experts and put them into a physical medium and call them books, and libraries.
  • The property of these storage mediums have shaped our idea of the shape of knowledge.
    Including the idea that knowledge is “settled”
  • The answers that we get from knowledge are stopping points – we’ve got an answer and we’re done.

Knowledge lives in networks – not in the nodes of the networks, but in the connections between them.
Knowledge lives on the internet – that’s where the new news is.

The value of this network comes from the disagreement.
The internet is exposing the lie of The Enlightement: we, collectively, don’t agree about anything, not even facts.

Since the Web has infinite space, ‘forking’ a conversation is easy – just tell people to take it offline or offlist.
It’s also a different way of disagreeing – much more public, and can be more productive.

Social learning. – “Software developers now live int he fastest, most efficient environment ever for rapid learning.”

One of the biggest concern of this truth about the internet is that the Echo Chamber Effect will simply become magnified. “If this is true, then the internet is not the dream of democracy but the nightmare of democracy.”

Reddit can be an echo chamber that has figured out how to open some windows: it’s the promise of the Enlightenment without the presumption that at the end, we will all agree on what’s so.

What do we want from these networks?

  • Open
  • Linked
  • Sourced
  • Diverse
  • Safe
  • Iteratively Add Value

Thinking about libraries in terms of services – NOT assets, whether digital or physical

“There’s no difference between data and metadata except the direction of the operation…. At some level, everything can be metadata for everything else.”

“Backends can be Webstarts” – support standards, share our work, make things as open as possible, rethink privacy
There’s so much we can do with this data once we figure out the right balance of risk and opportunity.

You need to find enough in common to begin a conversation. You get to the 99% of sameness so you can then go off and talk about the differences.
Locality enables difference, but there must be difference – that’s where the conversation/discussion is formed.

Libraries should take everything that they know – assets, library staff from every single department (front and back), users, and the connections between all of these – and make it available to every user and network of user that can be improved by having access to it.

Internet Librarian 2012, Day 0

One of the things I’ve been wrestling with at IL & CiL lately is that I’m too advanced for a lot of the beginning sessions (heck, I’ve been presenting on them for years) and not specialized or advanced enough for many of the rest. I was sitting in the gap, and for a little while I tried to help create programming to fill that gap, but that didn’t work out so well.

For IL this year, I decided to try the other route: pushing myself further along to meet those higher-level sessions where they are. I’m currently sitting in a Web Developer’s Boot Camp, learning about PHP, JavaScript, JQuery, and more. Jason Clark & Amanda Hollister are doing their darnedest to push several weeks’ worth of programming fundamentals into our brains at 9am on a Sunday. Hoo boy…

[fast forward 3 hours]

And wow, my brain hurts. Vital to my understanding this workshop was the O’Reilly book Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS by Robin Nixon (2nd ed.). It taught me in about 6 hours enough to go from “This workshop is in Klingon” to “OH! That’s what that stuff looks like in the real world!” Attending the workshop was perfect right after plowing through about 100 pages of Nixon’s book.

It’s time for lunch, but I wanted to get blogging this conference off to a strong start. More to come…

MLA2011: Day 3 – Future of Libraries

Sadly, I came back from lunch late, so I missed a chunk of this session.

Future of Libraries, or What the Heck Are You Thinking?!?!: A series of questions addressed to a panel that included Keith Fiels of ALA, Maureen Sullivan (ALA Presidential Candidate whom I know from years of local consulting), Scot Colford of the BPL, Sarah Saggogian of MLS, and the ever-excellent Jessamyn West. The topics and statements are flying so fast and furious I literally can’t keep up, but the short form is that there’s some great thinking going on and we as local professionals need to step up and help implement this fabulous thinking when we hear it.

Thought: As the amount of data and information in our lives increases epically, having librarians who understand and can show you how to organize and systematize the stuff in your lives is amazingly helpful. Just something as simple as “here’s a way you can organize the files on your computer and the photos you’ve got running around.”

MLA2011: Day 3 – What Has Dewey Done for You Lately?

I’m only attending two sessions today, so you’ll get a little more detail.

What Has Dewey Done For You Lately?: Three different libraries (Darien CT, Wilmington MA, ) talk about their experiences shifting from a straight Dewey organization system for nonfiction to a subject oriented layout. Darien’s Glades, Wilmington’s Neighborhoods, and . Major takeaways: you need to utilize volunteers to make this go smoothly, and they’ll help with word of mouth after you’re done. You need to touch every item. Really. Wilmington discovered that once they pulled out their cooking books and made it standalone, circulation increased 300% in the first two months. Make your popular sections even more popular with this process.

Darien: Identify popular books and create specific areas for them, make inviting collections (good collection practices), change service model (ditch ready reference, interfile reference bks), optimize for browsability, merging books & technology. Combine BISAC + Dewey to retain Dewey address with the browsability of a bookstore. Aggressive weeding (cut heavily in areas of low community interest), revise collection development policy. No change to MARC, change call # to include glade info, clean up catalog. They touched every book and considered it. After opening: listen to patrons, empathize & respond quickly. They moved everything again after a year once they figured out what worked and switched to color coding. “Make Glades part of the greater User Experience,” “Aging Gracefully & Bad Romance (divorce bks)”

Wilmington: Unlike Darien, weren’t moving to a new building, so did slowly over a year and a half. Step 1: Identify categories for the collection you have now, but keep in mind what future categories might come to be important. Step 2: Gather supplies. Step 3: Assign tasks (a few hours a week). Step 4: Touch every book. (This was after they weeded 30% of their collection). Step 5: Add Neighborhood sticker & change call # in database. They left items in Dewey order until The Big Switch. Step 6: Inventory – really good time to clean up physical & database inventory. Step 7: When all prep is done, rearrange. Have a logical flow from one category to the next. Don’t let categories wrap (except history). Weed to make it work – limiting the physical space means you must weed. Lots of faceout books, lots of continuous weeding. 19% increase in circulation overall, items pulled out of stacks had substantial increase, inside the stacks = inconclusive. “Cataloging is good for librarians looking for a book fast, but isn’t suited to a popular collection intended more for browsing than research.”

Groveland: They went to BISAC (Book Industry Standard and Communications) and lost Dewey entirely. Stuck completely with what’s out there. They were renovating and decided to make the switch. Used lots of volunteer brains and brawn to help with the redesign and the construction. “We had two 80-year-old guys who had nothing to do and knew a lot about construction. They cut down our 8′ shelving to open things up.” Again, circulation goes up when you weed, when you make things browsable, when you have attractive collections. They cut 50% of their collections, and nonfiction circ went up 62% over all, with 133% right after the conversion. Train your staff to watch patron traffic flow and keep track of this. You have to be willing to change, responding to requests and patron use. Homemade signs are better than no signs. Move the related magazines to the appropriate categories.

Question from audience: Have you heard of anyone doing this with very large collections? Yes. Topeka & Shawnee County. For instance, spend a year pulling all the books needed for subject displays per month and do each section at that time.

MLA2011: Day 2

On so, we’re on to Day 2 here at the Massachusetts Library Association. I spent the morning updating here and thoroughly enjoying Lobbycon. Now, it’s on to the afternoon. Remember, follow along on Twitter: #mlajoinforces

“State of the Library Nation”: Keith Fiels, Executive Director of ALA, is talking about the major issues, trends and myths currently affecting libraries around the country. He pulled a lot of scary statistics from the ALA report State of America’s Libraries (PDF) and countered a number of myths about libraries with those same stats. “No one will give you money because you want it or had it & would like it back. Vision drives funding.” “The closest I’ve seen to a library without walls is a politician giving a community a library without money.”

Digital Public Library of America: Maura Marx of the Open Knowledge Commons at Harvard’s Berkman Center outlined the push towards a single, umbrella-like national portal and repository, tentatively called the Digital Public Library of America. A good history lesson and an update on what’s going on now, and it sounds like this is an initiative that might just have enough big guns backing it to get somewhere. “Just because we didn’t succeed 15 years ago doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again now. There was violent agreement.”

Highlighted links:

That’s all the major stuff from today. Tonight is trivia, complete with superhero costumes to complement our “Join Forces” theme. Reports on that in the morning!