Professional Development

Susan’s Final Morning at ALA Midwinter 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:31 am

I had two sessions on my itinerary this morning, both at the Convention Center. So my roommates and I checked out bright and early and hopped the shuttle down to the BCEC one last time. It was a snowy ride, as the wet weather W-S experienced yesterday made its way to New England and turned wintry.

I attended the LITA Town Hall Meeting for the first time. It is a discussion gathering where members get to provide input on what they would like to see from their organization in the next year. What I didn’t realize is that it is a breakfast meeting (with real,hot good food) so I wasted $11 buying a fast food meal from the convention hall vendor. Oh well, it wasn’t too hard managing two breakfasts :-)

It turns out that LITA is in a strategic planning process and used this meeting to ask the members to look at what has been created so far and provide input. Each table was assigned a “theme” area (ours was “innovation”) and we reviewed the goals and suggested others. It was an interesting process as most of us were coming in fairly uninformed as to the history of the planning process and how it is anticipated this will fit in with the larger ALA organization. Still, it was a lively discussion and I believe several good ideas were generated by the various groups.

My final session was one that Lynn recommended. It was titled “From Ideas to Reality: Trends to Embrace in 2010″ and was led by Arnold Hirshon, LYRASIS’s Chief Strategist & Executive Consultant. He cautioned that every topic discussed in the session would not necessarily become a trend but all bear watching.

Three broad areas that drive library trends were discussed: technology, content and people. The presentation was engaging but the content didn’t surprise me as many of these ideas are ones that we have have under discussion or for which we actually have existing projects.

The summary of the technology trends he discussed were:
*computing is migrating to the cloud
*Open source software market is moving to maturity
*devices portability is diversifying
*social networking is experiencing growing pains
*bandwidth demand is insatiable

In the area of content, the economics of information is shifting. There will be a shift from free web content as ad revenue models are failing. Providers will be looking to augment ad revenue with other approaches, for instance, raising the cost of mobile applications. Currently free content may not continue to be free. Another content-related trend concerns the devolution of crowdsourcing. The decrease in Wikipedia content authors may be a bellwether of things to come. It might be that many topics are already covered, the rules discouraging participation have turned people away, or boredom has set in as the newness of participatory authorship fades. The biggest content trend concerns e-books. Roz has discussed this issue at length, but I’ll just add that Hirshon believes that e-books are at the tipping point and predicts they will continue to see rapid deployment, innovation and adoption.

People are numbered among library directors’ biggest problems (along with the economy and speed of change). However, some assumptions about staff are not borne out.

Studies on age-related traits find that when comparing under-30 and over-50 year old staff:
*over 50′s are more cooperative, contributing, and risk-taking.
*Under 30′s are slightly more more competitive.
*both groups are looking for flexible work arrangements and opportunities to give back to society.
*the best teams are ones that include both age groups.

Another staff trait that is important to understand is that achieving results and receiving support in that endeavor is the top motivator for most staff (over recognition or incentives).

Hirshon concluded by cautioning that it is hard to innovate and transform by embedding change within your existing operation. It is best to create a separate group to get an initiative started and then move it into normal operations after it is established. Finally, he encouraged us to stop believing that everything must be perfectly prepared and analyzed before you take action.The final advice he had for the room filled with library directors was: Act!

Sunday @ ALA Midwinter According to Susan

Sunday, January 17, 2010 10:10 pm

Welcome Trendsters!

Today I had the pleasure of watching as the LITA “Top Technology Trends” torch was passed to a new group of “trendsters” that included our very own Lauren Pressley. Top Technology Trends is a highly regarded semi-annual event at ALA where the top names in the library technology field predict next year’s top trends.

The panel this year was made up of all new names:

Amanda Etches-Johnson, User Experience Librarian at McMaster University
Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Yale University
Lauren Pressley, Instructional Design Librarian, Wake Forest University
David Walker, Web Services Librarian, California State University System

Each introduced one trend and then the panel posed questions and offered opinions on the trend. I thought they offered an interesting mix of ideas. David Walker thinks Discovery Systems are a major trend. He feels they will help facilitate and mature other trends, such as RSS. Amanda’s trend prediction involved the user experience in regard to interface interaction design. She focused on the mobile interface and the fact that, by necessity, they are designed to get the user what they need faster. One of the related trends she discussed is user analytics and where that might be heading. Joe discussed the effect that saturation of mobile technology is having on library services; everything from facilities (ie outlets) to pressure on staff. His concern was that every new thing we take on is a loss of something else, but we don’t want to compromise the soul of libraries. Lauren talked about augmented reality and cited the 2010 Horizon Report which predicts it will have widespread impact in the next 2-3 years. Finally, Jason talked about the tremendous trend that has taken off in the past year with the proliferation of mobile applications. Apple opened the App Store in July 2008 and there are now over 3 billion apps that have been developed. However, he predicts the death of the mobile app, maintaining that they will be replaced with the HTML 5 / CSS 3 standards.

The last part of the session was spent discussing another trendy topic: ebooks. Jason talked about 2 new products he learned about at last week’s CES Conference: Copia and Blio. Copia is a software platform that is attempting to produce a social experience but one where the reader interacts with the text of the book. Blio, which is not yet available, is a ebook reader that will try to enrich the reading experience where readers can “fully enjoy the subtlety of design originally intended by the publisher.” It was developed in partnership with Baker and Taylor.

A very interesting viewpoint was offered by David Walker who thinks that students have moved their research toward journals simply because they are readily available electronically. In his undergraduate days, it used to be easier to get a book than an article, so that’s what students used. Often in their research, undergraduates might be better served by a book because it provides a broader base. He believes that delving more deeply into ebooks could bring back parity. He thinks libraries have been overbuying into journals because they are available online. I don’t know that I had ever thought about the issue in this light, but it makes sense to those of us who have watched the research habits of students who routinely bypass print materials for whatever is available electronically. I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this!

My second big goal today was to find the book scanner vendor Atiz, which manufactures a book scanner that might work for us PLUS it is in our budget. Roz and I were given a demonstration and I think it could do what we need. After talking with several vendors whose scanners were double and triple our available funding, it was encouraging to discover a potential solution!

My favorite “networking” encounter came about this morning when Roz and I ran into Teresa Faust and Tina Kussey. They are doing great and it was wonderful to catch up with both of them since it has been years since I’ve seen them (although I am a facebook friend with Tina!). Tina and Teresa say “Hey” to all their old colleagues at ZSR. Teresa is happy to report that Vermont McDonald’s now serve sweet tea.

The weather report is calling for a wintery mix overnight in Boston, so please cross your fingers for the temperature to stay above freezing so we can have a non-stressful trip back to NC.

Susan at ALA Midwinter in Boston

Saturday, January 16, 2010 11:17 pm

Exhibit Hall

My first full day at ALA Midwinter 2010 was chock full of meetings, discussions, exhibits and renewing acquaintances. Our hotel is close to Boston Common, not far from Beacon Hill. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is farther than a walk away, so the first order of business was to familiarize myself with the conference shuttle system. Roz and I headed down to the center to check in, eat and get access to the Internet to get prepared for the day (Our hotel’s Internet access is sketchy at best).

I headed to the Exhibit Hall as soon as it opened since I have a real mission there this time. I wanted to talk with book scanner vendors to find out if there is any chance of a scanner within our price range (doesn’t look good…..). I always take a spin by the Alibris booth to say Hi to Bill. This year I had heard a rumor that Alibris was raffling a Kindle. Turned out it was just a rumor, but I was glad to give Bill a good laugh!

Lauren P. has been involved with the LITA Distance Learning Discussion group for many years and since the subject is one that I am hearing more often around WFU, I thought it would be interesting to attend. I ran into Debbie Nolan on the way and she came to this session also. There was a good exchange of talk about different tools people are using to provide virtual learning experiences, including facebook, twitter, LibGuides and Sakai. One of the most interesting topics, in my opinion, was about the level of text reference. Most in the room are offering this service, some using libraryh3lp (as we do) or text-a-librarian. But, uniformly, everyone reported that they do not see high use figures for text messaging. Everyone agreed that it is early in the game so things might change. On a side note, I enjoyed sharing our South Trip facebook story with the group and I think they found it interesting.

Debbie joined Roz and me for the Ebsco luncheon. Roz reported on what we learned there so I won’t be repetitious. I ducked out early (but not before dessert) to catch the shuttle to attend a session titled “New Campus Partnership Roles for Librarians.” The session was facilitated by Barbara Jenkins at the University of Oregon. She is the Director of Instruction and Campus Partnerships. When selecting her title, they made a conscious decision not to use the term “outreach.” “Outreach” has a one way sound to it, where “partnership” evokes a two way relationship. This set the tone for the session where participants discussed the importance of going beyond successful one-on-one relationship-building to building relationships that connect into the campus infrastructure. The main premise was that only through effective on-going partnerships do librarians become part of the “living/learning” experience in the university. It was a very interesting exchange of ideas.

Over the course of the afternoon while heading from here to there, I connected with Elisabeth Leonard, Beth Barnhardt, Jim Galbraith, and Eleanor Cooke. I also had a brief Steve Kelley sighting….

My final meeting of the day was my “real” purpose for being here. I am on the LITA National Forum Planning Committee for the 2010 conference that will take place in Atlanta this coming fall. We spent the meeting discussing all of the details for securing keynote speakers, and preconference/concurrent session presenters. It’s fairly amazing the amount of details that are required in putting on a first class conference (almost as many as putting on a first class 5K race!).

This evening Carolyn, Roz, Elizabeth Novicki and I ventured out to a fabulous restaurant, Legal Seafood, where I had the best non-Maryland crabcakes ever (and that is saying a lot). Now we are back at the hotel and ready to turn in. Tomorrow is another full day of conference activities.


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