Emerging Tech Trends and Libraries

How are emerging technology trends impacting libraries? Tech gurus Lrobot armaura Solomon and David Lee King are delivering a 4-part webinar series for Infopeople to explore this question.

  • Part 1: Laura Solomon kicked off the series in December 2015. She discussed Gartner’s Hype Cycle, Internet of Things, wearables, the evolution of social media, and more. You can listen here (one-hour).
  • Part 2: David Lee King presented the second session in the series. His session covered trends and tipping points, including mobile, games, smart machines – all through the lens of “What does this mean for the library?”. You can listen here (one-hour).
  • Part 3: David Lee King returned to host the third session. This time he covered maker spaces, digital media labs, co-working spaces, and more. You can listen here (one-hour).

Part 4 in the series will be presented by Laura Solomon on June 15, 2016. You can register here.

 

 

Big week for all (library) things net

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released yesterday  its 2014 report on Who Has Your Back –a quick, clean way to see which online company platforms protect user privacy to what degree. It’s essential reading and a good guiding document for discussing privacy issues, advocacy, concerns, and practices with your library community, including students, the general public, and library boards.

This week also saw the FCC hold hearings on how making regulatory changes that affect net neutrality might be received by stakeholders. Hey, you’re a stakeholder. You can review the hearings, the current outcome, and make a response by following the #NetNeutrality hashtag on Twitter. (That feed includes links to formal documents published by the FCC in the immediate wake of the hearings).

It’s also been just over a week since the Gates Foundation made its formal announcement that the long-standing program that gave many American, as well as worldwide, libraries their first internet connectivity possibility, the Global Libraries project, will wind to a close across the next three to five years. That’s another indication that we need to step up, as library service providers in the 21st century, to evaluate and advocate for what’s good for our communities and what our communities need to have assured as sacrosanct when it comes to online access, privacy, and best practices for government and for us.

What’s going ’round

The past month (and in almost any “past month”), tech media stories have been awash with a few high profile stories that cry out for library-level responses. The pair selected for highlighting here involve a collection-oriented concern and one related to community information needs.

The We Need Diverse Books Campaign became solidified and systematized across the past couple weeks, although the concerns it addresses have been real and compelling for a century. Major publishing houses, the work horses that supply our libraries with books for youth, have a lot of responsibilities: finding, editing, publishing promoting works of fiction and nonfiction comprise a gargantuan job, undertaken by those who work as editors, editorial assistants, agents and other proposal and manuscript readers, cover designers, packagers, sales jobbers, reviewers…and only then do new works reach the point of audience discovery, and individual reader enhancement or rejection.

When a panel planned for 2014’s Book Expo America was first revealed to be exclusively white and male, years of discontent with this long outmoded staging of how-we-show-kids-their-world erupted into a groundswell of activist author, editor, librarian, bookshop staff, and reader response. Social media, including most particularly Tumblr and Twitter, became the stage for days of concentrated demonstration, and helped to establish a presence of alternatives. To catch up with how swiftly such a demonstration of needs can foment, articulately and cogently, serves as an ancillary lesson for library staff who have been slow to credit social media with relevant and awesome power.

This story, then, offers two bottom lines: no matter what you think your community looks like/identifies with, they (and you, in service to that community) need diverse books; and you, in the position of learning quickly and authoritatively, need to engage in linking to what is happening in the publishing world, now that it can be altered in direction by skilled social mediators.

The second story is one that originates with the discovery of the devastating breadth of the Heartbleed bug, news of which began to reach the general public at the end of the first week of April. What has developed across the six weeks since this news broke is a secondary story that implicitly addresses us as library staffers: a month after Heartbleed’s reported presence and publicity about how to mitigate its damages at the personal online security level, a majority of American computer users were not taking the steps required to rid their online presence of this security flaw. That is where we need to step up our game, taking a proactive stance toward educating, coaching, and actively supporting good online hygiene in our communities, instead of waiting to be asked for guidance.

We can be information sources for our communities. However, doing the informing, doing information, is a far more powerful and valuable approach. And to take that on, we need to address our own never-ending need to know and understand how big news doesn’t happen in a silo: we have a role in connecting news and our community in ways that enhance and promote the community’s interests.

To 3D or Not 3D: That’s just one question

One of the most popular place in the #clanoise exhibits was the California Library Association’s own makerspace area, which came fully loaded with soldering stations and three-dimensional printers for conference attendees to explore through use. Libraries and makerspaces have been a trending topic at both library conferences and in local and regional initiatives. With today’s online-accessible Smithsonian X3D Conference underway, it seems a good time to talk about 3D printing in a way that contextualizes its possibilities in Califorrnia public libraries.

The Smithsonian presenters note: “We want to make sure any technology we bring in is in service of our mission” (at 2:25 of the Overview video linked above). This might be the begining point, too, for any local public library when considering including a 3D printer in their makerspace provisions. In your library, would three-dimensional printing, as a service provision, be about explorationand discovery of knowledge through access to information? Or, as lots of conference goers in Long Beach seemed to find, is the thrill of producing the driving force the library hopes to highlight?

Let’s take another step back, however, before analyzing what a 3D output experience might do for your own community. Public libraries didn’t “invent” makerspaces, in spite of the increasingly rapid adoption of them as a kind of plug-and-play program element…or a desirable program element. Themakerspace ethos grew up in a variety of communities and among several related movements. In its broadest terms, the makerspace is a publicly accessible collection of cooperatively held tools and experts in applying them to find project solutions. (Hmm, the public library’s print collection comes to mind, complete as it is with library staff (experts) who connect members to “solutions” to whatever their projects might be, from pleasure reading or listening to figuring out how to compute health insurance costs).

As well to consider is that makerspaces have developed “out” in the community, frequently with a monetary charge for membership. Bringing the makerspace into the public library does the same thing for access as the public library providing an alternative to fee-based services and experiences such as the newest books, live performances, and even classes in citizenship or test taking. So, maybe the first question would be: what are the demonstrated needs for a makerspace in your community? Followed by: where are the community-based experts who can shepherd the energy into the public library purview?

Now, back to 3D printers and printing. Revisiting the question at the end of paragraph two here: to what purpose would this investment respond? In a library context, there are some uses of three-dimensional printing that are definitely off the table: we aren’t going to provide access to printing dental crowns or other body parts, a technology now used in medical practice. We can provide access to printing out plastic bot-sized bits; will that be the occasion to teach children (and adults) about trademark infringement? Or we might want to put the 3D printer to use as an element of exploration that is less about reproduction and more about exploring; if that be the case, how would we fit it into our library’s larger program of service? Is it then a makerspace item or independent of makerspace-ness and instead in the suite of service tools that include software and hardware employed to deliver a wide variety of information and experiences, both mediated and unmediated by staff?

Now, here’s hoping you get some time in the next two days to peek in at the Smithsonian X3D.

Lots of training news!

Is there really a slow time around Infopeople training roll outs?  Nah! And so far, this August is proving to be busy for those of us creating lots of new content areas and formats for library staff training and development!

Here’s an overview of what’s happening, and a glimpse ahead, too:

With the Affordable Care Act approaching a new stage, that of health insurance enrollment, libraries and library staff have been called upon to prepare to assist our community members to accessing information and the tools needed to expedite individual and family enrollments. There is a humongous amount of information for us all to recognize and absorb–and we know you are already busy. So, upcoming very soon is Infopeople’s online resources page dedicated to leading you and your staff to the most urgent Affordable Care Act news and resources. By “soon,” you can think “end of this very week.”

Also in the hopper related to the Affordable Care Act is a webinar featuring our excellent Kelli Ham, along with the ever knowledgeable Barbara Bibel, and another panelist from Covered California. The one-hour webinar is scheduled for noon, on Monday, September 9. Kelli, besides being a librarian at UCLA, is Infopeople’s link with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region. Barbara has been certified by the Medical Library Association and regularly provides training to public library staff around health and wellness materials.

As of Sunday, the independent online learning series Infopeople has hosted for UC Davis, titled Health and Wellness Competencies, has moved to Infopeople’s direct aegis.  Any generalist who wants to gain a better understanding of how to deliver health and wellness information to his or her library community, making use of best practices, can enroll in this six-module wholly asynchronous series by registering on the Infopeople training site. While this series does not address the Affordable Care Act, we have another series of independent online learning rolling out in September, titled Affordable Care Act @ Your California Library.

And speaking of independent online learning series, what had been called CORE 2: Subject Area Reference is now titled Subject Area Reference. We’ve returned its layout to that of a single strand with six modules, one evaluation and one certificate of completion.

With two fully developed independent online series already underway and a couple more in development, this is a good time to remind everyone that these series are low cost ($25 for Californian library staff, with free registration for rurals, and $50 for out of state participants). Each series is available for registration any time and each one runs all the time. A participant has two months to work at his or her own rate on any of the modules within the series for which he or she has registered.

Now, if you would like to receive such updates in breaking moment and perhaps more specifically concise way, here’s a reminder that you can follow Infopeople on Twitter (@infotweets), receive updates on Facebook by “liking” us there(facebook.com/infopeople.org), connecting your RSS feed to Infopeople’s home page, and/or making sure you are subscribing to this blog.