The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise?

David Lee King

Cindi Trainor

Michael Porter

Meredith Farkas

Roy Tennant, Moderator

 

Description of the analogy of the elephant – People grab onto different parts and form an opinion based

 

Q – What does library 2.0 mean to you?

 

Cindi – It’s not just a set of tools and technologies. It’s a philosophy. It’s about creating services and spaces for users that invite them.

 

Michael – What libraries do to fulfill their roles as community anchors has to change. There are new tools tht make us more vibrant and more relevant than ever before.

 

Meredith – Creation of services as an iterative process. You’re constantly fixing and assessing. It’s about putting our money where our mouth is and being really user focused.

 

David – Wikipedia as a tool – It’s a new way to present information and to let everyone contribute their knowledge. It’s a new philosophy about how to do things.

 

Michael – I’m more interested in what works. I don’t care about Twitter or Gmail or Facebook. Focus on why the tools do or do not meet our needs.

Cindi – It’s useful to think of Library 2.0 as a derivative of Web 2.0. Distinguish new types of companies from dotcom bubble companies. It enables software as a platform. There are applications on the web (not just on the desktop).

 

Meredith – Technologies that allow us to build communities and communicate with one another. People form relationships with others who are only electronic blips.

 

David – Making tech tools easy for non-tech audience to use. 2.0 technologies are made to connect people. If it is succeeding, the technology is out of the way.

 

Michael – 2.0 technologies can be distracting. It’s hard to know what to use as brands change (so pay attention to functionality). It’s very difficult to track the success (or lack thereof) of your institution’s use of these tools. It’s all anecdotal.

 

David – It’s sad that we’re still trying to figure these tools out because some of them are 15 years old. Disagree with Michael on tracking success. You can find blog stats. If users are commenting, then they are reading and engaged. Facebook gives some basic statistics and demographics.

 

Cindi – Just because someone had a page open for 10 minutes, how do you know they were actually reading it and not talking with friends?

 

Meredith – It’s scary that so little assessment is being done. We’re spending time on these services. Why not assess them?

 

Michael – If you use the reporting tools from these various sites, they don’t always sync up on the same timeline. When the way you report is numbers-numbers-numbers, that doesn’t account for social connections and interactions and how people’s lives are impacted.

 

Cindi – Tools like WordPress, Blogger, PBWiki, and Flickr gives libraries the power to reach out to audiences in new ways.

 

David – In a normal library, how do you capture this anecdotal evidence? It’s recorded in these social tools.

 

Q – What are some of the barriers you see to libraries adopting and using these new tools?

 

Meredith – We’re entrusting our knowledge and hard work to third party sites that may or may not be there in the future. Twitter is a good example of a highly popular service that is constantly losing money. People aren’t planning for web 2.0 tools the same way they’re planning for others with regard to backups, etc.

 

Cindi – Any time you want to do something new or create a new service, don’t be afraid of failing. Take a risk management approach. What are the terms of service?

 

David – What are the barriers? Technology. The bigger barriers are our own. If you want to really "get" a technology, you have to immerse yourself in it.

 

Michael – Years ago, there was a debate in public libraries about whether to circulate fiction. In the 1970s the companies that produced VHS and Betamax tapes went to court to prevent libraries from circulating them. Do we circulate digital movies in our libraries? Very few. Go to Netflix. THEY circulate digital movies. These companies are usurping our content distribution. If we don’t figure out a better way to circulate digital content, we’re in deep trouble. Setting up a blog or a Flickr stream are first steps in doing something about it.

 

Meredith – Time is a barrier. People say that they don’t have time to learn or do a new thing. People are asked to do new things, but no responsibilities are being taken away from their jobs. This has to change at the organizational level. People have to be given the time and resources to do this.

 

Michael – Use the tools to get more effort out of what you’re doing.

 

Meredith – We spend a lot of time outside of work learning to do these things. If our administrators don’t give us time and resources to do these things, then they don’t value them.

 

David – Some people are better at managing their time than others. Reference librarians do 20 hours n the reference desk and 20 off. What are they doing with the unscheduled time?

 

Q – What libraries are good examples of using 2.0 technologies and principles?

 

Michael – Lester Public Library in Wisconsin.

 

Q – What is the one thing you want to say to the audience?

 

David – Administrators and managers – let your staff go with it. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a filed project and learn something from it. That’s a positive outcome.

 

Meredith – These technologies are not a magic wand. We shouldn’t use a tool just because someone else is. Think about what is appropriate to your audience.

 

Michael – If you focus on your role and mission in your community, you’ll be fine.

 

Cindi – It’s a matter of having someone in your library who understands the role of these tools in the community.

 

Q – How can library 2.0 tools be supported in brick and mortar libraries?

 

David – We had a tweetup with free food sponsored by a local tv station. The library will be hosting a conference on 2.0 tools for the community.

 

Q – What are ways to help people who are intimidated by computers, let alone 2.0 technologies?

 

David – If you have staff who are still intimidated by computers, why did you hire them, and why do you still have them? Why have you not fired those people if they are not fulfilling their roles?

 

Michael – I’m a big advocate of partnering people. Pair someone with greater technology skills with someone with lesser skills.

 

Meredith – Technology petting zoos. I like the idea of having a place where people can play with technology in a non-threatening environment. Host a training session where people can just play around.

 

Cindi – Subject guide boot camp. People will spend all day together working on subject guides  and reinforcing their skills.

 

Q – It sounds like a lot of library 2.0 is marketing. Would you say that that sums it up or is there something that goes against that?

David – That’s only part of the picture. Marketing is part of it because it’s a broadcast medium. It’s also a collaboration platform for connecting and sharing. It’s more about using pooled knowledge to come up with a better idea.

 

Cindi – It’s also a tool that lets users give feedback to us. It’s not just a wooden suggestion box in the corner.

 

Q – If you’re going to have a technology petting zoo, what tools would you show them?

 

Meredith – It depends on your population, what they need, and what will be appropriate to them.

 

Michael – Kindle, iPhone, Palm Pre, Flip camera, Livescribe Pulse

 

________________

 

David – Set your priorities and focus on them. Don’t focus on what will take the most or least amount of time.

 

Michael – If you’re going to do something like a blog, you have to have the plan, commitment, and follow-through to keep it updated.

 

Q – What some of the privacy pitfalls that we need to be aware of and let our patrons know about?

 

Michael – Every company doing these social tools is a for-profit enterprise. We care about privacy, but these companies don’t. I think there should be a non-profit connected to libraries that develops tools like this.

 

David – The bigger privacy concern is just a lack of understanding about what these tools do, where they go, and who follows them. People THINK they’re being anonymous. Some people don’t quite understand the tools well enough to know who can read them.

 

Q – There are people with legitimate arguments and complaints that Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time. These users may be feeling left behind in face of 2.0 initiatives.

 

David – The largest growing segment of Facebook users is the over-50 group.

 

Michael – We don’t have any trouble doing what we’ve always done.

 

David – My job is digital branch manager. My patrons ARE these users of digital tools.

 

Additional Reading

 

The Great Debate – Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? – at Librarian by Day

 

Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled Its Promise? at LITA Blog

 

Starter Questions for Ultimate Debate 2009 by David Lee King

The Future of Library Education – and again, and again, and again

Over on her blog, Meredith Farkas has a post and a brief survey about the future of LIS education. This one is only four questions and doesn’t take long to complete. Dontcha just love SHORT surveys? It seems to be one of life’s little ironies that the shorter surveys sometimes seem to draw out the most thoughtful and meaningful responses. With a long survey you sometimes just click click click wondering when you’re ever going to get to the end. With Meredith’s though, everything is there on one page – nice and concise. But I digress . . .

Most people will agree that the nature of the profession has changed drastically over the past 30 years. Rapidly changing technologies have introduced an amazing amount of innovative programs and services – some that were just a flash in the pan and others with decided staying power.

Meredith’s survey is very open-ended. It isn’t tied to a specific technology trend, but it leaves the door open for people to discuss technology where they find it appropriate. In fact it’s so open-ended that it makes me wonder how people would have answered the questions 5, 10, or 15 years ago. I’d kind of like to see this one go on for awhile. Given the pace of technological change, I think it would be interesting to compare a decade’s worth of responses to this one. That way we could hear from actual practitioners how the profession is changing on a yearly basis and how the profession is staying the same. I think we would find some surprises in both areas!

Privacy, Openness, and Access to Information

Time for some randomness. A trio of stories caught my eye recently. The topics are vastly different, but there is a loose common theme that ties them all together: restricting or opening access to information.

Libraries are all about open access to information. Libraries have tons of great content, and they want to share this content with the widest possible audience. The very title of Meredith Farkas‘ blog emphasizes this: Information Wants To Be Free. However, librarians will readily admit that there is some information which should not be freely available. (Patrons choosing to opt-in on book reviewer services is another matter.) Patron reading records come to mind. Patrons’ reference questions are also taken to be private and confidential with libraries taking great steps to anonymize all questions before analyzing their service quality.

I guess this dual perspective of openness and privacy helped pique my interest in these stories:

CNET: Olympic head: No deal on Internet censorship
CNET: The FCC on Comcast: Confusion in spades
MSNBC: Recordings raise questions about inmate rights

The first story continues the saga of China’s ongoing efforts at Internet censorship. In spite of an agreement with the International Olympic Committee, the Chinese government continues to block access to Internet sites of which it does not approve. International journalists are up in arms about it. This censorship limits their ability to do their jobs, and it simply isn’t what China promised.

The second story deals with Comcast‘s throttling of BitTorrent traffic. Interestingly enough, what Comcast did is regularly replicated on university campuses across the country through various packet shaping technologies. Apparently the FCC’s biggest complaint about Comcast was that the company hid their activities from customers.

The third story highlights illegal eavesdropping on privileged attorney-inmate conversations by the San Diego county jails. Apparently the jails were not only recording these conversations, they were also making them available to prosecuting attorneys. In at least one case, this gave the prosecutor explicit information about the defendant’s trial strategy. The story also reveals that similar recordings occurred in other counties as well. Interestingly enough, in California eavesdropping on inmates’ telephone calls with their attorneys is a felony. I wonder how the state will choose to punish the county?

So here we have a country censoring information that should be open and freely available. We have a company secretly throttling customers’ access to certain types of data streams. And we have county governments clandestinely recording privileged conversations.

In the United States we (SHOULD) treasure our free speech. We (SHOULD) treasure our free press. We (SHOULD) maintain an awareness of corporate practices that impact our access to information. We (SHOULD) actively protect confidential communication from unlawful scrutiny. These stories serve to illustrate that people need to protect their information rights. Without demanding constant accountability, these rights will be slowly, surreptitiously whittled away.

Top Tech Trends pt. 2

During LITA‘s annual Top Tech Trends program, and number of experts are invited to offer comments on what they view as some of the trends to watch. A few highlights are listed below. In some cases these may be paraphrased, and in others they may be direct quotes. For more detail, check out the podcast listed on the LITA blog.

Marshall Breeding

Open source trends in library automation

For a couple of decades things have been done in a certain way by a certain set of vendors. Open-source has fundamentally changed this. Libraries have perhaps been underserved by their vendors.

Open source ILS options: Koha, Evergreen, OPAL.

Although a number of libraries are moving towards an open source ILS, there is much more action in the public side than on the academic. The number of academics moving to open-source systems is much smaller than the “swell” of public libraries moving in this direction. It may take another year or two before we start seeing greater involvement on the part of academics.

Instead of traditional licensing arrangements, the emerging model is support of open source with contract programming, moving the focus of the revenue from the licensing side to the services side.

There is also a move towards open data.

ILS Discovery Layer Interface Committee – Working on standards that define interoperability between library automation systems and the new generation of front-end interfaces.

The Berkeley Accord
Some automation vendors have already signed on as part of this project.

Anyone developing library automation software has to respond to libraries’ demands for more openness.

Openness is great, but beware of the marketing pitch. Read the fine print, be skeptical, look deep. Are things as open as the vendors portray them? Are they doing tings that really deliver new value through openness?

Karen Schneider

Open-source
“You know that open-source is viable because people make money at it.”

Broadband – We never have enough of it, and we seem to be in a perpetual cycle of catch-up. These limitations drive library policy and practice. Some libraries can’t explore certain initiatives because their broadband simply won’t support it. No federal broadband strategy.

Open-source – We have come full circle with our automation history. Librarians are now writing their own software, charting their own destinies.

Sarah Houghton-Jan

Now people have faster Internet access at home than at libraries. The problem is multimedia. When you have a lot of people in libraries watching videos, playing online games, and streaming radio stations, you wind up with clogged bandwidth. (Probably more of an issue in public libraries than in academic?) More of IT budgets are going to be dedicated to broadband.

People talk a lot about things that are new and beautiful, but not so much about sustainability. At the outset, people are not thinking enough about how much effort it takes to sustain new projects. How many abandoned library blogs are out there? How many library myspace sites are not being maintained?

Libraries as organizations are not nimble. We need to look at how we make decisions and how we encourage innovation. Innovation is discouraged in many libraries. The structures and practices of our organizations create these barriers to innovation. Part of this is attibutable to the age-old librarians’ fear of failure. We can’t try anything new unless it’s been planned to death and it has already been tried in 80% of other libraries (so we’re pretty sure it won’t fail for us). Staff are hesitant to innovate because of the seemingly insurmountable multi-level bureaucracies. People don’t have the time in their workdays to think about innovation. Then trying to wade through the bureaucracy is a waste of time.

Clifford Lynch

There is a growing enthusiasm about open-source in libraries, the higher ed community in general, and cultural heritage organizations. Open source is wonderful, but it isn’t a panacea. There seems to be a widespread belief that by declaring something to be open-source, you can solve a widespread range of financial, technical, and design problems, that are otherwise insoluble.

After their enthusiasm, there is likely a coming backlash against open source as people try to calibrate on a realistic view the places where it solves effectively, the places where difficulty is conserved. You need to be smart about it. You need to not overreact in any direction about open source. You need to think about when open source makes sense, and when you’re just appealing to it to solve a problem that basically nobody knows how to solve in the first place.

Virtual Organizations – Concept from the ideas of cyber-infrastructure, collaboration across the network.

People need to be able to work together and set up work arrangements in a fairly agile fashion. There is a need to be able to do this in a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous ways. Real indications that travel will get more expensive and more difficult in the future. Besides fuel, airlines are dropping a significant amount of air transportation capacity. We’re going to find that a mixture of physical and telepresence will become more of the norm at meetings for participants and audience. (Cliff said that this was being handled pretty badly at this Top Tech Trends session!) Needs to get much better very quickly. Has implications for teaching and learning.

Network storage, cloud storage. This is starting to take off in a bigger way.

Move by libraries and cultural heritage institutions to make their digitized materials available outside the library in places suck as Flickr. This is a “letting go” of holdings so that they can be reused and so that they can be put into contexts that are valuable to people.

Information overload – Social networking systems/social software. How quickly and how severely will we run into overload situations? We’re already seeing early signs of this.

Roy Tennant

The age of experimentation – revealed through a number of different projects – VuFind, Scriblio, Extensible Catalog Project. People are taking control, experimenting, and trying to find out what might be usable techniques.

Game-changing surprises such as Google digitizing entire libraries.

Data – Everyone needs to get really good at extracting data from within whatever system it resides. ILS, ERM, etc. You will be throwing those systems away at some point, so you need to be able to get your data out. Even if you keep those systems, you need to be able to analyze your metadata: find missing elements, find bad elements, do transformations.

People – Take responsibility for your own professional development. Don’t expect training courses. Support people in the organization with the opportunity to learn what they need going forward.

Systems – Take control of your systems. Don’t be locked into an outdated version just because it’s so hard to upgrade. If it’s that hard, get out of that system.

Question for Roy: What can library schools do to help prepare students for an environment of constant technological change?
Answer: Good luck. The trouble there is that personality traits are needed rather than specific knowledge, and that is really hard to impart in library school. Either you’re the kind of person who loves change and loves to learn new things, or you’re the kind of person who likes to get comfortable in a position without having to learn new things. Library schools can’t really affect that. However, library schools can focus more broadly on concepts that can be applied in different technological situations: information retrieval, precision, recall. Those kinds of things last. Specific systems don’t last. However, it would be useful to teach people at least one specific programming language because that helps them talk to programmers. This is a role that librarians increasingly need to play.

Meredith Farkas

Social software – The role of social software in collecting local knowledge. Local wikis for cities. Why can’t libraries collect local knowledge to benefit everyone? Having a space to collect knowledge is very important. Libraries can be the online hub of local communities. This presence will in turn drive more visitors to the library website.

Libraries can provide an important technical and educational role in communities. Some libraries are doing extensive technology training in their communities. Example: The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County.

Archiving blogs as historical artifacts. Many of the real current library conversations are happening in blogs. Will this knowledge be preserved for use in future research? This could change the way we think about how we archive materials.

John Blyberg

Green technology – In 2005 American consumers dicarded 2.5 million tons of electronic equipment. Most contained some amount of toxic material. Manufacturers are coming up with new types of material that are more eco-friendly. Energy efficiency is also a rising concern. The Internet (and related computers, monitors, hardware) consumes about 350 billion kilowatts of electricity per hour in America. This is almost 10% of total energy generated in the U.S. Most of that power is wasted in toe form of heat generated and energy required to cool hardware. New devices/innovations for ultra-low voltage and heat abatement.

In the future conferences may be transformed by technologies that allow more and better virtual participation. Less physical presence also translates into less total energy consumed.

Semantic webNew Reuters API that adds semantic markup to unstructured HTML documents. As you do a search and refine the search, the software helps you locate other connections that you might not otherwise have found.

Converged Media Hubs
Portable media devices are actually mini-PCs, such as the iPhone. They can bring together a wide variety of content such as RSS feeds and live TV, and this is available in the palm of your hand. We may not be ready to accept the idea of reading books and watching entire movies on a handheld device, this drastically and fundamentally changes the expectations of our users when they look at us as information providers. Those who use these devices heavily customize their experience so that it’s tailored to their needs. This indicates that people are beginning to develop a very personal relationship with information. As users build these customized information frameworks, they begin to place a good deal of personal reliance on them. This puts in a position where we can help them do this.

The Library as Content Creator (not just content provider)
When users leave the library, they enter a world that is very highly produced. Highly crafted radio, television, and Internet experiences. Not necessarily highly crafted content, but definitely a highly crafted container. This creates an expectation from the users that their user experience will be well-presented and professionally developed. The problem is that users don’t appreciate it, they just expect it. When it works well, they take it for granted. When it doesn’t work well, they are highly judgmental, and they will disregard the content if the container is not up to their expectations.

Karen Coombs


APIs are becoming very important to libraries. Beyond just bibliographic APIs, libraries need to consider media sources such as Flickr and Blip.tv. These will enable libraries to pull data back from those media sources or make it possible for faculty to simultaneously upload content to the institutional repository and these media sources. Libraries have to find ways for faculty to put content in institutional repositories, discipline-specific repositories, and government repositories with a single submission. Repositories are a way for this to happen.

Virtual Participation
New facets to virtual participation. More experiences with people in a physical space and in a virtual space collaborating together.

Eric Morgan

With regard to scholarly publishing, it is no longer just about the article anymore. It’s about the data that supports the article. How are we going to collect and provide access to that data, and maintain it for a long period of time.

Mobile devices
Mobile devices will become more the norm. As libraries, how are we going to get our content onto these small screen.

Web APIs. these are the pieces that fuel web 2.0. This is a way to get your stuff out there.

It’s increasingly important to make sure that library websites have bling. People really do judge books by their covers. Libraries need more expertise when I comes to graphic design. We might know how to organize information bibliographically, but when it comes to organizing it visually, we stink.

Next-gen library catalogs/discovery systems
All of these next-generation type things are essentially indexes with services running against the index.

The next challenge for libraries is letting patrons use the content that they find. Finding content is not the problem. As libraries we can allow patrons to use the content in a different sort of way. The next gen catalog is a tool to do others things that are exemplified by action verbs: tag it, review it, annotate it, compare and contrast.

Libraries always serve a community: business, university, city, government. Your library will be able to provide services against your content better than Google can.

Karen Coyle

I want to be able to walk into the stacks and do catalog searches with handheld devices. The fact that when I’m in the library and have less access to resources than when I’m sitting at my desk at home is ridiculous.

What my job often is these days is that I’m paid to write reports you couldn’t pay me to read.

“The future of bibliographic control will be highly collaborative, decentralized, international in scope, and web-based. It will take place in cooperation with the private sector and users will be among the new partners who collaborate with libraries. Data will be gathered from multiple sources. ”

Paraphrase of the opening section of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.
http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/news/lcwg-report-draft-11-30-07-final.pdf

The future of bibliographic control will not have control. It is not going to be a controlled future. It will be a gigantic mash-up. My fear right now is that if we don’t make some extreme changes, it will not involve libraries. Other people will be doing it, we won’t. And we won’t because it is going to be about linking, it is going to be about everyone having access to the data. The data has to be unencumbered and anyone can use it in any way they want. Right now it is easier to get bibliographic data from Amazon and from the publishers than it is from libraries. So if we don’t really get on the ball, the future of bibliographic control is not even going to involve us. There are a lot of things that we have to give up in order to allow this future to include us, one of them being that it no longer matters if the data/records we create for bibliographic data are the same.

Need to be able to offer the users the option to see other items that are similar.

The increase of user to user interaction.

More and more the institution is not going to be the focus of the interaction. As users can connect and interact with each other, that will be their choice. Libraries have to make sure that their content is available and accessible while users are interacting with one another.