Project Information Literacy (PIL) has just shared the Information Literacy’s latest “Smart Talk” interview with Craig Watkins a leading thinker on social media, connected learning and youth.
In the interview, Craig says:
“While schools do not always suffer from a lack of technology, they consistently suffer from a lack of vision in how the technology will be used. In high-poverty schools, technology is rarely used to promote the development of higher-order thinking skills, such as design, problem-solving, or coding. Schools must invest in highly-skilled instructors and curricula that cultivate the skills associated with innovation. This is not necessarily a technological barrier, but rather a social barrier. By expanding what we help students learn to do with technology, we increase the likelihood that they can begin to more fully leverage the power and possibilities of social, digital, and mobile platforms.”
Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff. – See more at: http://ninermac.net/breaking-up-with-libraries#sthash.F7Wn43FP.dpu
I had been thinking about this same thing for the past few years when I made an attempt to look into a digital product for teens. My thoughts with that product were:
1) Wow, I don’t know any teens that would use this.
2) Wow, this is so expensive and there is no way I could ever afford this.
3) Wow, this product has such horrible design.
The outcome? I did not buy that product.
It was not until a few days ago that while under the influence of Nina’s post and seeing the amazing work that Dan Eveland (Web Developer, Chattanooga Public Library) and Mary Barnett (Social Media Manager, Library) did on the Chattanooga Public Library website that I had it hit me: we really need to start investing in employees who can make amazing things that do what we want them to do.
Like these calendars, databases, and whatever else that we buy from vendors, hiring awesome people to build stuff just for us is an investment. Sometimes your investment may not work out. But don’t think about that. You can always try again. But what if the investment in awesome people works out? You get awesome things that were built for what you need them for.
A good example is the website you see above, teens.chattlibrary.org. About one month ago, the team started talking about what we wanted to do with this site. We got some ideas and Dan put up a template and we slowly worked on it. Mary gave the project a deadline and said “let’s get this done” so all last week we put our hardhats on and did it. Dan and Mary built teens.chattlibrary.org to reflect what I thought teens would be looking for: quick awesome tidbits of information, news of big things going on for teens at the library, a hub for the Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and a contact page. All built with Drupal on The 4th Floor in about one month by some amazingly talented people on the Chattanooga Public Library team. The best part? It’s works super well, is easy to manage, and it is exactly what I was hoping for with the teen site. Another great part? If it needs fixed or modified, I only have to head up two floors to talk to Dan and Mary and it’s done.
Hiring awesome people to help you realize your library dreams? To me, that’s the way forward. Not only do you get amazing products that you can actually use for what you want, but you get to surround yourself and the library staff with talented and kind people who contribute to the positive vibe of the community. A win in every area.
(please note: This post originally appeared over at justinthelibrarian.com)
Clive Thompson recently gave an excellent interview on the findings tumblr as part of their “How We Will Read” series. In the interview, Thompson discusses his ideas on eBooks, social reading and the future of print. But I think that his thoughts about print on demand books are the most interesting.
What you see with print on demand in the last couple of years is that there’s been explosion in the number of things printed, but they’re printed in small quantities: three, four, five copies total. They tend to be things like very specialty books; weird memoirs only three or four people want to read; mementos: people put together photographs of their vacation with a little writeup. You get books that get updated in curious new ways. The University of Calgary hosted the former prime minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, and offered to sell copies of her book at her event. But her book was out of print. So she got the digital file, wrote two new chapters, a new introduction, and they printed 50 copies of it for the event.
Justin Hoenke‘s recent webinar has me thinking about the idea of libraries as “content creators.” This is probably why I get so excited to read Thompson’s thoughts and then connect them with the video from the Sacramento Public Library that I’ve embedded below. The possibilities with a print on demand machine in a library are many, and the programming and communities that could spring up around it would be fun, creative, and informative – for all ages.
I just finished Carson Block’s article, If Books Are Our Brand, in Public Libraries magazine. It’s yet another look at the changing world of libraries and how e-books have shaken things up. Block says, “I would love our brand to be ‘access to the resources and tools in an ever-changing world.’ That means access to e-everything, including the tools and training needed for content creation, and in physical spaces. Places to gather and discuss ideas. Places to learn, and places to teach.”
I agree with Block when he says we need places to gather, learn, and teach. But, Block’s statement made me think more specifically about our reference collections. For years, we have been shifting to an e-reference model. Many print reference collections have been shrinking as they’ve been replaced by subscription databases. In the past year, my library’s reference collection has been weeded by close to 50%. Our pushback on doing so came more from internal sources than from the patrons.
I think it’s interesting that libraries have been able to successfully shift to online database usage, but we can’t seem to find a common ground with book publishers on making a transition to e-books. I’m not saying I want to make a complete and total transition to e-books. I still am very much a print person, but I hope we can give the people what they want in whatever shape that may take.
GetGlue and LibraryThing got me thinking about how we could make the library an even neater place if we could somehow integrate these services into what we do. Imagine going into a library and heading for the catalog. You start your search and because of LibraryThing you can read other library members thoughts on that item. The stack map then will help you locate what you’re looking for. Imagine if we took that a step further and GetGlue made a product called GetGlue for Libraries. Members could opt in to the program and check in to what they’re checking out at the library. Library stickers could be unlocked and shared. Even better yet, the conversation and recommendation part of GetGlue could make the entire library experience even more social and community driven.
Now you’re not just borrowing stuff, but you’re talking about it with your community as well.
I bought a Kindle for these reasons and for the past few days, I’ve been using it in a few different ways. I bought two books from Amazon totalling $6.99. But most of the space on my Kindle is taken up by a collection of PDF’s. Yes, this is how I’m hacking a Kindle. It’s my PDF collection device.
Does your library subscribe to some databases? Chances are, they do, and this will be where you will start your hacking. My current topics of interest include empowering patrons to create “stuff” in the library, user experience, teens and technology, and The Beach Boys. I dove into these topics pretty deeply one night and searched for PDF’s that interested me.
If I couldn’t find an article in PDF form, I turned to Google Chrome extensions to help convert that text into a PDF.
Once I downloaded the articles, I sent them to my Kindle account using my Send to Kindle email address. The next time I turned on my Kindle, I synced the device and viola! My PDF’s showed up, ready to view, highlight, share, and cite.
At first, the process may be a bit cumbersome (and there may even be better ways to do it!), but once I got into the groove of searching/saving/uploading PDF’s, I had quite a collection in no time. I highly suggest that if a librarian has a patron that has a Kindle and is interested in collecting their research that they at least think about using this way to aid the patron.
UPDATE! I got an email from @verbivoria last night (thank you!) that explained how to use Instapaper to send web articles to your Kindle:
You can use Instapaper to save web articles you like, convert them to Kindle files, and then import to the device.
The neat thing is this: you install a “Read Later” button on your browser, and when you find something that you want to peruse later, you click the button. I find this invaluable.
Special thanks to my SJSU SLIS grad assistant Patrick Siebold who worked very hard the past few weeks inputting the content. I know the examples from ’06 and ’07 may seem out of date and quaint in some ways, but I’m very proud of the framework we used for the works back then. Conversations, Community, Connections, Collaborations – all those great C words Jenny Levine and I used throughout our early social software roadshows in 2005 & 2006 provide a useful context for looking at Web 2.0. I hope these works are still useful to some of you. Comments are open for adding more to the chapters and I plan on doing some types of updating as time permits.
The site will also serve my course Web sites and other items related to my teaching.
For my interview at SJSU and for my recent Trends & tech talks, I’m framing the discussion around the four thematic areas above. The slides from my Trends talk at New Jersey Library Association expand on the areas – I cannot believe I haven’t posted them: