Category Archives: Top Tech Trends

News: Jen Waller, Miami Ohio Librarian, and Google Glass

Visions of the future:

Waller was one of 8,000 “glassholes” selected to be among the first to play with the new gadget, with the winning tweet: “MT @glennplatt: #ifihadglass my students and I would show that learning is everywhere. We’d help lead our university redefine higher ed.”

An innovation grant from the Miami University libraryfunded Waller’s purchase, but the Glass is hers to use, according to Library Coordinator of Strategic Communications Peter Thorsett.

“The innovation grants allow employees to play around with new ideas like this,” Thorsett said. “We like to encourage that kind of work.”

Though the Glass belongs to Waller, she spends a great deal of time sharing it with students and using it as a teaching tool in the classroom, as she promised to do in her tweet.

“I’m really interested in privacy and sharing and I like using this device to teach about it,” Waller said. “Our lives are richer when we share. Online support groups and image sharing are examples of this. With Glass, all photos taken are automatically uploaded to Google Plus, so it’s a good tool to talk about these things.”

Waller has been speaking in Interactive Media Studies (IMS) classrooms and allowing students to try out the technology for themselves.

(Bolding mine)

Learning can happen anywhere via our mobile devoices and wearable technology. This is no longer the future, folks.

Kudos to Jen! Click through to read the whole article. I love that Jen is encouraging this type of experimentation and play with her students!

Taming Technolust: Ten Steps for Planning in a 2.0 World (Full Text)

Stephens, M. (2008). Taming technolust: Ten steps for planning in a 2.0 world. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 47, 4, 314-317.

Note: This article was originally published in RUSQ and on the RUSQ Blog. Permission has been granted to share it here as well. I’ll be using it for a workshop next week at the 11th Southern African Online Information Meeting, Sandton, South Africa.

Back in 2004 when I started writing and speaking about technology planning, I urged librarians to be mindful of letting a desire for flashy, sexy technology outweigh conscious, carefully planned implementations. Over the years, I’ve returned to the topic of wise planning and technolust on my blog and in various publications. Simply, technolust is “an irrational love for new technology combined with unrealistic expectations for the solutions it brings.”(Stephens, 2004)

While the emerging technologies of 2004 seem quaint when seen through the lense of 2008, the issue of technolust remains.  Call it a 2.0 world, the age of social networking, or whatever you’d like, but now more than ever librarians are finding themselves in a position to make decisions about new and emerging tech – when everything is in beta and “nimble organizations” are the words of the day.

A fact: new technologies will not save your library. New tech cannot be the center of your mission as an institution. I’m still taken aback when I hear of libraries spending money for technologies without careful planning, an environmental scan of the current

landscape,and a complete road map for training, roll out, buy in and evaluation. When the latest technology hits, are you keen to add it to your library, boosting the coolness factor? For example, buying every  librarian on your staff an iPhone as a way to improve reference services is probably not going to be a wise solution. You may have some happy librarians, but that type of technolust does not well serve the organization.

I believe these days we’re dealing with a lot more than just lust. Consider the following other states, if you will:

Technostress:  New tools and web sites come at us daily, easily creating a feeling of unease or anxiety about how much technology we can take on or even understand. How do we keep up? How do we stay in the know, when it seems that those cutting edge libraries we always hear about are launching yet another social tool or widget on their blog-based, RSS-equipped, Meebo’d to the hilt Web site? This anxiety can lead to poor decision making and knee-jerk reactions. It might also lead to multiple irons in the 2.0 fire at one time, spearheaded by individuals and departments all over your library. Which, in turn, leads to more stress.  More stress aggravates bad decisions for technology which means more Technostress…well, you get the idea.

Technodivorce: It’s hard to admit we’ve made a mistake – especially in our profession. The culture of perfect in many libraries at times prevents us from cutting the cord on projects that just aren’t working. Did they really work to begin with? Many things: that IM service for young adults, the reader’s advisory wiki, RSS feeds sometimes just die on the vine from lack of use, promotion or upkeep. Found a few months later, a dead library blog speaks volumes about project management and buy in at all levels of the organization.  Who is watching this?  Maybe potential new hires who are now running for the hills.

Technoshame: The librarian who steps up after one of my presentations and whispers “I don’t know anything about this stuff and have no idea how to begin…” might be experiencing a bit of embarrassment. The world is moving just too fast. Fear not! And feel no shame. It’s never too late to kickstart an institutional learning program or learn on your own. See the tips below for more.

Technophobia: This librarian is frozen with fear about new tech.  Often the reaction is to oppose vigorously. In the right position, this person can infect a good portion of the organization. Tech projects stand still until any light of day vanishes. Is it really the technology or is it rapid change that causes the fear? Sometimes I think it’s more a fear of the open, transparent times we’re moving into more than blog software or a wiki for planning the new branch or department.

This begs the question then: How do we plan in this shiny new world when anyone in your library can create a library blog at a free hosting site, develop an online presence at sites such as Flickr or Facebook for the library or launch the institution’s own social network with a few mouse clicks? Submitted for your approval, Ten Steps for the 2.0 Technology Plan:

#1 Let go of control. ACRL offered this as a means of examining the evolving roles of academic libraries: “the culture of libraries and their staff must proceed beyond a mindset primarily of ownership and control to one that seeks to provide service and guidance in more useful ways, helping users find and use information that may be available through a range of providers, including libraries themselves, in electronic format.” I believe it extends farther – to all types of libraries and way beyond the “electronic format” only. The culture of perfect is based on control. Is your library guided by a department or an individual who holds the reigns too tightly? Often times, it’s the marketing department that feels the need to control the library’s story – in an age where the message has long since passed to the people. PR speak, filtered voices and stifled projects lead down the wrong path for open libraries. Think of all the staff, all their enthusiasm, and all their creativity being set aside because none of it was in a pre-arranged marketing plan. Or it’s the IT department holding tight to any technology initiatives. I’ve heard this statement more than a few times: “IT doesn’t allow that.”  Balance is key here: all departments need to come to the table. No one area or agency can control planning and implementation. This leads to the idea of the Emerging Technology Committee: a team made up of stakeholders from all over the organization. Techno-planning is best done in open, collaborative space where everyone has a voice and can share their expertise.

#2 Let “beta” be your friend. Let your users help you work out the bugs of that new service. Admit openly that whatever you are planning is new and there may be a few kinks. Share plans and prototypes. Be sure to interact and reply/respond. Make changes accordingly. This goes for technology projects as well as other new initiatives that might not be solely tech-based. Michelle Boule explored this at ALA TechSource blog, stating: “Building beta is more about flexibility and allowing the participants—not the creators—to redefine the meaning of the service. Planning beta is about allowing for failure, success, and change.” Technolust does not survive when users are cooperating to build the service. Maybe instead of system-wide RFID, your library users might be better served with laptops or other devices for checkout. Tap into your user base to plan effectively.

#3 Be Transparent. Communicate and make decisions via open meetings and weblogs. Michael Casey and I advocate for transparent libraries based on open communication, a true learning organization structure and responding quickly and honestly to emerging opportunities. “Transparency—putting our cards on the table—allows us to learn and grow, and it lets our community see us for all we are, including our vulnerabilities.” (“The Open Door Director”) This is incredibly important for management and administration. You are the ones that need to set the standard for open communication within your institution – walk the walk and talk the talk. I’m reminded of a talk I did at a larger, well-known library system, where five minutes in, the director stood up and slipped out the back door. The staff took me out for drinks the night before and one said “We hope she stays to hear you. We can’t do anything without her approval and everything we put out on the web is vetted through three departments.”

Pilots and prototypes are great if they are just that. Don’t call it a pilot project if it’s already a done deal: signed contracts, “behind the scenes” decisions to go forward or a “this is the way it’s going to be” attitude will crush any sense of collaborative planning and exploration for the library. It’s a slippery slope to losing good people to other institutions.

#4 Explore emerging tools.Try various paths or tools to find the best fit. Don’t just say “we must have a library blog because Michael says so”, or “an article in American Libraries says many other libraries are doing great things with a blog.” Your purposes may be better served with other technologies or tools. Prototype new sites and services and ask for and respond to feedback. Try out a blog or wiki on a limited basis. Learn from your successes and failures. Tech decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. What failed a year ago offers a learning opportunity and might help you make a better plan today.

#5 Spot trends and make them opportunities. Scan the horizon for how technology is changing our world. What does it mean for your AV area if iTunes and Apple are offering downloaded rental movies? What does it mean for your reference desk if thriving online answer sites are helping your students? What does it mean when Starbucks or Panera Bread becomes the wifi hangout in town for folks looking for access? Read outside the field – be voracious with Wired, Fast Company, etc. Monitor some tech and culture blogs. Read responses to such technologies as Amazon’s Kindle and ponder if it’s a fit for your users and your mission. Being a successful trendspotter is one of the most important traits of the 21st Century librarian. Be aware, for example, that thriving, helpful virtual communities, open source software platforms and a growing irritation with what ILS and database vendors provide libraries could converge into a sea change for projects like Koha and Evergreen. Who know how close we are to that tipping point – but trendspotting librarians will be far ahead of the game.

#6 Offer Opportunities for Inclusive Learning. One of the first steps of successful planning is learning the landscape. We can’t deny the unparalleled success of the Learning 2.0 model of staff education as a means to inform and engage all levels of staff. Created by Helene Blowers at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County in the summer of 2006, the system has been replicated all over the world. It works when staff are encouraged to explore and learn on their own and communicate that learning via blogs. Such a program will not fly if managers and administrators don’t support it or participate as well. Middle managers: please realize that you set the tone for your department or silence it. You can make it or break it when it comes to participation in training or planning activities. One librarian recently told me that Learning 2.0 failed for her because her manager saw no use for it. Library administrators: even more rests on your shoulders. The staff know if you don’t care about emerging technologies and the opportunities they bring or if you don’t see the value in learning new things. Set the stage with your own participation. Mess up and learn from it. Be the poster child for the change you want for your institution. Also, create a physical and virtual sandbox for staff to play with the technologies and tools that figure into your plan. Hands-on experience equals an understanding a path toward buy in.

#7 Overthink and Die! Don’t get hung up on preparation and first steps. Planning in this shiny new world needs to happen faster than ever before – without losing quality. How do we do this? We gather evidence from our professional literature, the  library blogosphere and other librarians. We ask our colleagues “How’s that vendor treating you.” Spending valuable time coming up with witty acronyms and writing FAQs anticipating any and every thing that might happen can kill a project.

#8 Plan to plan. Instead of willy nilly emerging technology projects, plan to plan. Create timelines and audit progress. This takes project management skills, something LIS educators (like me) should be teaching in depth!  We need expertise in bringing projects to completetion. Your “Digital Strategies Librarian” or “Director of Innovation and User Experience” should have impeccable management skills and be able to see the big picture. How do you find that person if you don’t have one? Evaluate current jobs and duties of your library staff. What can be done to streamline workflows and free up hours for new duties and new titles.  Find who is suitable, then, guide projects and people well. Have effective meetings with action items and follow up. I spent more time in meetings when I became a manager in my former job than practically anything else.  Planning projects focuses creativity.  Meandering meetings sap creativity.

#9 Create a mission statement for everything. A mission statement and vision of your tech implementation will help guide development, roll-out and evaluation. For your tech plan, create an overarching mission and vision. Are you well-funded and well-staffed? One goal might be to experiment with emerging tech — testing the waters if you will. Tighter budget? Limited staff? Create your mission with that in mind: our institution may move a bit slower, (could it be faster?), but the decisions will be wise and based on evidence from what those folks out at the cutting edge of our marketplace are doing.

#10 Evaluate your service. This is the next step in all the 2.0 talk. Sure, we’ve rolled out the library blog, IM reference service, wiki and more but the final part of the anti-technolust, on-the-money technology plan is a detailed, ongoing means to gauge the use and return on investment for these new technologies. This will be the next wave of discussion you’ll probably be hearing by the time you read this. How do we track use? How do we prove the usefulness of the virtual branch and digital librarian to governing bodies, boards, trustees and those who make the funding decisions? For this, we need new models of tracking statistics and gathering stories. In my mind, the return on investment for many of the emerging technologies will be proven with qualitative data such as positive stories from users and an increased amount of participation via commenting and content creation.

We have a great opportunity to harness emerging technologies and create engaging and useful services, deeply connected to the core mission and values of librarianship. Balancing technolust in this shiny new world and planning mindfully and openly can certainly lead to success. I wish all the libraries on this road much success! Please keep us informed as it goes!


Technoplans Vs. Technolust

The Open Door Director

Building a Better Beta

Changing Roles

Meaningful Essential Services Beyond Commercial Content

Don’t miss the new column by Aaron Schmidt:

Fortunately, there are examples of libraries creating new and valuable services that may just serve as a template for fresh, more community- responsive services than the current “free bookstore” long-term gamble we’re making.

Baltimarket is a collaboration among Enoch Pratt Free Library, the city of Baltimore, and other organizations to bring healthy food to food deserts. People can order groceries online and pick them up at library locations. No ­ebooks required.

In January, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ, hired a nurse. She leads programs and is also available to answer questions and make referrals. Combine this with expert help searching databases, and there’s near endless potential to assist people.

LibraryYOU is a project from the Escondido Public Library, CA, that helps its community create and publish videos and podcasts “to collect and share local knowledge.”

Pinterest and the New Meaning of Curation – A TTW Guest Post by Rick Thomchick

I have read quite a bit lately about the concept of social curation and sites such as Pinterest, a “virtual pinboard” for organizing and sharing images. ”Curation” is very much the nom en vogue these days for a number of disparate activities, and I imagine many librarians roll their eyes when they see this term used to describe RSS news aggregators, search filters and even brand strategy. Nevertheless, the rise of Pinterest has been nothing short of meteoric, and even Syracuse University’s iSchool is getting into the act, so I decided to try out the site and see for myself just how “curative” it really is.The first thing to know about Pinterest is that it is currently by invitation only, at least for now. You can be invited by another user, or submit an invitation request (I submitted a request and was granted an invitation 3-4 days later). Once you’ve signed up and logged in, using the site is relatively straightforward. Simply find an image you like on the Web or your own computer, and “pin” it:

creating a pin

The site asks you to select a category and briefly describe the image you’re pinning. Once you create your pin, the site automatically adds the time, date, and source, and adds the image to your user stream. Other users can then “like”, “re-pin” (repost) or comment on your pin, or follow your posts to view new pins as you make them.

Curating Your Aesthetic Interests

After using the site for a couple of weeks, my impression is that much of the user activity on Pinterest can legitimately be described as digital curation, at least as it is defined by theDigital Curation Centre. At the very least, users are engaging in rudimentary cataloging when they categorize a previously miscellaneous image. Describing to a pin can further enhance image discovery. And comments from other users may also constitute a form of curative content—especially if they provide additional insights about the pin.

But to truly “curate” an image, you’ll want to organize your pin into thematic collections (“boards”). For my first board, I organized a set of images from stories about Pinterest that I’ve read over the last few weeks while learning to use the site. These images (and the articles they are from) wouldn’t all show up in a single search query, and together they form a narrative about Pinterest that goes beyond the content of each individual pin. What’s more, I can allow other users to add new pins to my board, which introduces the possibility of true “social” curation and group storytelling.

Sharing: Caring, or Copyright Infringement?

Pinterest has drawn a lot of criticism about the legal issues around pinning and re-pinning copyrighted images. Some of the most poignant comments have come from Pinterest users like Kirsten Kowalski, a lawyer and professional photographer, who recently deleted all the pins she felt she didn’t have permission to use. The issue for Kowalski and others is that people may be indadvertedly committing copyright infringement and exposing themselves to lawsuits because Pinterest copies full-resolution images to its servers instead of just linking to them or creating thumbnails (which is what Google Images does).

Based on my own experience with the DMCA process, I am dubious as to one’s chances of getting sued out of the blue with no prior warning. But the more larger point raised by Kowalski is still valid: It’s not okay to use someone else’s work without permission. Unauthorized use of photography cuts across the same grain as music and file sharing with Napster and BitTorrent, and I have never heard anyone refer to BitTorrent seeding as “curation.” Respect for authorship, whether it means obtaining permission or attributing sources, must play a central part in this burgeoning culture of curation, lest the term fade into a faddish euphemism for piracy and plagiarism.

I think there is a growing awareness of the responsibilities that come with curation, as evidenced by sites like Curator’s Code, a project put together by Maria Popova (contributor to the Atlantic Monthly and author of the blog, Brain Pickings) as a way to ”honor and standardize the attribution of discovery across the web.” Some librarians I’ve spoken to have expressed a healthy skepticism about whether people will actually use this system, and attribution is certainly no substitute for obtaining permission to use an image. But I hold out the hope that Popova’s ambitious experiment could someday pave the way for a future where chains of attribution are as much a part of the Internet as hyperlinks.

Teach Them How to Fish

I have a feeling that someone is going to call 2012 “The Year of Curation,” if they haven’t already. Heck, by the end of summer, I will probably be thanking the employees at Cold Stone Creamery for “curating” my ice cream cone. And perhaps I will discover upon graduation that, as John Farrier exclaims, digital content curation is a career for librarians.

Sarcasm aside, there is a unique opportunity to seize the moment and “grab the public’s interest” while the coals are still hot. In fact, one could argue that engendering a culture of curation is of critical importance if libraries are going to adapt to the age of participation. As Michael recently pointed out in his Office Hours column, “preserving a community’s digital heritage is the work of both libraries and museums, but involving the community in these efforts is imperative as we move forward.” Initiatives such as theLubuto Library Project are living proof that this approach can be wildly successful, and I hope it’s the kind of thing I get to read more about in years to come, regardless of how we label it.


Overcoming e-book ‘stagnation’ by Åke Nygren

Don’t miss this article by Åke Nygren at InformationToday Europe:

Åke explores how Stockholm Libraries are responding to e-book stagnation:

Since 2010 the Stockholm Public Libraries have been working hard at coming to grips with the conflict between a growing public demand for e-books and the devastatingly low percentage of e-books available in their stacks. The overall conclusion: instead of waiting for a print oriented publishing market, paralysed by its anxieties for possible loss of market shares, let’s get the job done ourselves! 


The third step will be to explore the potential with EPUB 3, an open format that has the potential to move e-reading from a disclosed and lonely activity towards an open, creative and social experience.

In brief, Stockholm Public Libraries response to e-book stagnation is to:

  • Cooperate:  we can’t do it on our own, let’s find strategic partnerships, for e-book openness and innovation.
  • Digitise: let’s not just sit and wait. If nobody else seems keen on digitising, well, then we do it ourselves.
  • Integrate: making literature accessible for everybody in 2012 is not just about digitisation, it’s also a question of packaging and integration of the content in user friendly and flexible user interfaces.
  • Engage: let’s explore the potential of co-creating new content together with the users of today: the prosumers.

Make Something … at Portland Public Library

Don’t miss:

TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke answers some questions about the library as a creation space for teens:

How do artists use your library?

Every day after school we get anywhere from 30-60 teens using our teen library space.  I see the teens making music, art, and videos on their laptops everyday.  A lot of them also sit around and doodle, and the almost always give me their finished products.  I’ve got quite a compilation of teen artwork created in the library that someday I hope to put together and feature in the library!

This image gallery is a collection of pieces that teens completed in the Portland Public Library as part of the Searching For ME program, where teens designed their own story in their image. The program was a collaboration with The Telling Room and The Maine College of Art. All photos are courtesy of Justin Hoenke.