Sunday, June 27, 2010
WCC Ballroom B
Moderator – Gregg Silvis, Chair of the LITA Top Tech Trends Committee and Assistant Director for Library Computing Systems, University of Delaware
Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience, Darien (CT) Library.
Vice President, OCLC Research and Chief Strategist, OCLC.
Head of Library Information Technology, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
Associate Director of IT and Virtual Services, Douglas County (CO) Libraries.
Coordinator for Library Technology and Data Services, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries.
Joan Frye Williams
Information Technology Consultant.
Panelists will speak on three types of trends: current, imminent (6-12 months), and long-range (3 years or longer).
Blyberg – Multilevel convergent media.
If we look at the way we consume media now on our various devices, content delivery is not one-dimensional.
Media and information are flowing in the context of what’s happening in the world around us. Ex. – Twitter.
Users (not manufacturers) are the ones who find ways to take advantage of new devices.
In the past convergent devices have been less effective than their component parts. Think about trying to write a term paper on an iPhone. You’re not going to do it, because it’s not the right device to do that kind of work.
With new devices such as the iPad, the quality of the convergent device is greatly improved so we can do things in a much more efficient way.
Convergent devices provide the opportunity for everyday people to connect to something larger.
Dempsey – Mobile
As we begin to provide services for mobile devices, it’s not a matter of mobilizing the existing array of services. It’s about how services can be reconfigured for this environment.
It also offers a way to connect the physical environment and the digital environment. How can we connect users in our physical spaces with new experiences? QR codes offer one possibility.
We can think about services in a new location-based sense. WolfWalk from North Carolina State University offers one example. Users can walk around campus looking through an app on their phones, and historical building information from the library archive is overlaid on what the see. (augmented reality)
Mobilization introduces microcoordination. We coordinate our activities at a much more fine-grained level (because we’re always connected). This changes the way we think about space because people need to meet in a more ad hoc way. We need better ways of microcoordinating and the facilities to do that.
If you have a lot of devices, you can do a lot of creative things. Things move up to the cloud because you want your content to be available on every device wherever you are. You don’t want to be tied to a particular machine.
For the majority of the life of the library, the material we bought has been tied to a container, and that container provided the user interface. Increasingly what we purchase is no longer in a container: it is information without an interface. We’re having to purchase or build the interface to interact with the information. Over the last few years we’ve been trying to give people mobile containers because of the increasing use of mobile devices.
The next big drive will be in the area of touch-based interfaces. This is happening because of touch-based phones, the iPad, and the upcoming devices that will follow the iPad. These have changed the way we have interact with things things that contain information.
People who have used iPads describe them in emotional ways. People are emotional about books because we interact with them in a tactile way, and there is a connection when we touch them. Interfaces like the iPad give us that back. Touch-based interfaces give us unmediated access to the content: there is no mouse or pointer between us and the content.
As more touch-based interfaces emerge, that will be the method by which younger generations interact with information.
We will see a lot of new devices making their way into libraries. The differences will be in the software and applications.
Libraries are still in the infancy stage of interacting with mobile technology, but the commercial sector is already doing this very well.
Libraries are going to have to adopt a different approach from that used in dealing with library catalogs in terms of having disjointed interfaces. We’re going to move really quickly with the software and applications for mobile platforms in order for us to be relevant.
Users aren’t coming to us because of mobile devices; they’re coming to us because of the experience.
Will there be a time when we don’t have public access computers and provide instead a platform for users to interact and have a library experience? People are coming into the library with their own devices, and they want to access our content. The hardware will not be an issue.
The iPad changed the mobile platform because of the user experience. Will we be able to get to the point in our libraries where we are using mobile devices to interact with patrons? (Ex. circulation transactions)
We need to develop a mobile strategy so we will continue to be relevant to our users.
We’re undergoing a transformation of libraries from places where users have to figure out where to go depending upon what they want (ILL, etc.) to places of "You ask for it, we get it.
This has implications for library workflows, tools, and user-centeredness. Services should be user-centered rather that fitting workflows around the tools that we happen to have.
How do you get patrons to things that you don’t own? Some libraries are experimenting with putting MARC records for all e-books offered by their vendors into the catalog. If the library doesn’t own the item a patron needs, there is an option to purchase. Collections are more patron-driven.
I don’t track technology. I track human behavior, cultural changes, and follow the money. I look around and see what kinds of implications that might have for library technology.
The recently-failed economy was driven centrally and included a lot of lawyers, bankers, and accountants. Local governments seem to be interested in the "creative economy." There is a lot of talk about cities and counties thriving by attracting people in creative disciplines. The model for a creative economy tends to be individualized small business – typically home-based – entrepreneurial, and hyper-local.
How can libraries intersect this particular trend? Libraries are well-positions as incubators for "creatives," because they have great bandwidth, they’re media-rich environments, and they’re already established as meeting places.
There are implications for our workflows around what business we think we’re in, what environment we’re creating, and how we support that technologically.
The biggest challenge right now is to create workspaces that support creativity and innovation with all of its mess and iteration. If our technologies are deployed around discovery and transport, and if we assume that delivery of content is the end of our story, we’re hard-pressed to imagine a workspaces that supports a messy, iterative, studio creative process. But that’s where the money is.
We need to stop being the grocery store and start being the kitchen.
This is not a real change from our current capacity; it’s a change in emphasis. We think our work is done when we deliver content. We don’t provide the tools for people to work People go home and don’t always have the tools to work with the content.
As we design new workspaces, we have to consider the new ways in which people work. It’s not all with perpendicular monitors. The iPhone, iPad, Microsoft Surface, and similar touch-based technologies are even changing lighting requirements. Architects have never even considered these new ways of working.
I see a real problem with how we collect and manage creative content. The way people in creative areas access their content seldom has to do with topical descriptions. We have a lot of technique around how WE find stuff, but that’s not the work that’s going forward, and we need to support that too.
Question from Sendze to Blyberg
How confident are you that we’ll get to a point where things are so platform-independent that they all play well with each other.
Blyberg – I don’t think they have to play well together. Individuals need to find the devices that best fit their lives and create their own information frameworks based upon their needs and interests. That’s why the marketplaces isn’t just iPhone. These devices are just portals into what’s going on in our world.
The way people are designing apps for the iPad is starting to take into account the ways in which people work collaboratively.
3D home fabrication. The line is blurring between information about a thing and the thing. The library world has moved in some disciplines toward collection, distributing, and manipulating shop drawings, CAD files, art. We need new ways to think about, organize, and manage the rights and re-versioning of the things.
In the future we’ll need to know a lot more about how things move from a set of descriptions to the object itself. We’ll need to know more about how that will be managed and retrieved.
Ex. Architects look at shapes. We don’t bring a design sensibility to the way we organize things. We don’t tag by shape. There is room for a new type of information that is a step in the manufacturing flow.
Facebook – Anonymity and open-source
As more people (non-techie people) begin using emerging technologies, the conversations around these social tools are changing.
Who is responsible for preserving the new collective knowledge being created online? This content can’t be bought and owned by a single or even multiple libraries. For example, the Facebook terms of service states that contributed content belongs to Facebook. Will we be able to go back and look at this Facebook content in 100 years?
Sendze – Changes in the way IT as a function is delivered.
When technology started coming into libraries (especially 2.0 technologies), there was a shift in what librarianship was going to be. We all had to redefine what it was going to be.
Cloud computing is going to redefine the way we use our back room IT staff. We have situations where entire infrastructures are being hosted in the cloud. A lot of my infrastructure is already in the cloud. My web services are with Amazon. My backups are in the cloud.
IT is going to have to become embedded in the day to day work of the library. They’re no longer going to have to be the back room people.
There are currently two main classes of e-readers: e-ink devices such as the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook; and LCD devices such as the iPad.
The prices of e-ink devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) are plummeting. By this time next year we’ll probably see $50 e-readers.
"How does it change our acquisitions and our materials processing and our circulation when you can purchase an e-reader for under $50 that has the entire western canon on it for free?"
How do you change the model for providing books for an intro to literature class when you can buy a device that has every book the students will read and the content doesn’t cost anything?
At this price point, e-ink devices become almost disposable. At the same time there is a rise in LCD and OLED displays. The new iPhone display is 326 dpi. This is literally better than the quality of most printed magazines. This technology can eliminate some of the problems that people have noted with electronic displays because the quality is literally better than print.
These types of screens will allow us to display things and provide content in ways that were never possible before.
The 2011 iPad will probably have Apple’s new Retina Display. On the low end we will have disposable e-ink devices.
There is a lot of interest in what is currently called the discovery layer. Over the next few years they will change the character of how we look at the library collection. As these services represent as much of what is available as possible (licensed materials, books, digitized materials), they will come to be seen by users as the full library collection. The library collection will be what is available through the discovery layer. This will push the integration of other services. You could also see Google Book material, ILL services, and a variety of other services.
Once you reach the point where these services are part of the library offering, more patron-driven options begin to emerge. You can present a "possible collection" through the discovery layer, and behind that decisions are made about whether to acquire things based on patron demand and discovery.
Open source library systems
If you have something really successful you see instant returns, and you see them fairly quickly. But you get to the point where successes plateau, and everything gets quite a bit harder. At that point you have to decide whether to quit or keep going.
The next 6-12 months is a period of a dip for open source software in 4 areas: technical, logistical, financial, behavioral.
Logistical – A lot of libraries have migrated to open source systems in the last year – so many in fact, that they’re going to have trouble finding support. There are a limited number of support agencies, but this mass exodus from proprietary to open source systems has really overburdened the existing support system.
Technical – The open source alternatives available right now don’t really go toe-to-toe with proprietary alternatives in terms of feature sets. That’s okay in the short term, but in the long term this lack of functionality may be compounded into other problems.
Financial – We’re coming to the end of first- and second-round grant funding for open source implementation, and there’s no guarantee that the money will still be available in the future.
Behavioral – I think that the open source community has a way to go before it reaches the point where it can participate professionally in discussion about what open source is and can be. Ex. A paper critical of open source was leaked last year, and the response from the community was less than professional.
This is sort of a natural process on the way to becoming a significant contributor.
4th generation mobile infrastructure will be in place in 3-5 years. 4G will give a minimum of 100 megabits per second to cell phones. It will be like walking around with an ethernet cord in your pocket. We don’t really know yet what we’re going to do with this level of bandwidth, but it gives us an unprecedented ability to send/receive information quickly.
Researcher Masatoshi Ishikawa has developed a scanner that allows high-speed book scans simply by fanning the book pages in front of the camera. When asked about where he thought the technology would be use, Ishikawa replied that it would be use by cell phones.
What kind of world will it be when we have ubiquitous high-speed Internet access coupled with a device for which print is digitally available at any moment? Combine this with Google Translate . . .
Google Translate – Take a picture of words in another language, Google OCRs it, and gives it to you in the language of your choice.
Profiling and the death of Internet anonymity
Search engine and other online companies are collection a lot of information about users and doing a lot of data analysis as well as commoditizing it. In contrast, libraries collection a lot of patron information, but we have policies for purging it. We really don’t hold onto patron data. It seems that our users are willingly giving a lot of information to online entities for what the users perceive as their own benefit. We have the same data on our users, but we’re not mining it or using it. I see an Internet that will offers ways to present content to users before they even know exactly what they want. Will this change the way we think about privacy in libraries?
Does the library have a better reputation for protecting privacy than companies?
Our users want us to offer better suggestions. They want us to present content that might be useful to them based on their profile. This could transform the way we look at patron privacy.
The era of physical copy scarcity is over. What will be the rare and valuable things in the future?
It’s up to libraries to help provide access to whatever these rare and valuable things will be and to help patrons navigate that landscape.
What is the role of the instruction librarian when a lot of students interact with the library through the website? What is our role when we no longer have face-to-face interactions at all?
The information industry is evolving in ways that mimic the energy industry. There are interesting relationships between those who supply and those who distribute. Libraries have primarily been involved on the distribution side of information while the supply side has been globalized.
Many libraries are trying to attain clean information systems. But we’re all vulnerable to spills. What is the analogy to an spill? Massive loss of access. Massive data corruption. Government crackdowns after an incident that limits access to information.
Could there be a possibility of war of over preserving the information supply from a strategic partner who controls information that we didn’t create?
Is it possible to position libraries as strategic information reserves?
Two external elements pushing against libraries: Visual content and our access to it; the economy.
We’re going to enter a phase where libraries need to admit that they’re very inefficient. That will make us look at what our overhead is on backend processes. Some of these backend processes can be automated and made much more efficient.
Libraries have spent a lot of time managing the complexity of multiple streams of resources. Systems for bought materials, licensed materials, repositories for digitized materials, etc. This means that there is a lot of time spent on overhead activities and less time on managing the relationships with users.
Users are finding ways to get what they want in CONVENIENT ways.
Perhaps some of the ways libraries manage supply don’t have the same value or relevance because the supply channels are simplifying and users are finding content elsewhere.
There are a variety of areas where the library wants to make sure that their constituency uses information effectively.
Library systems don’t rate, recommend, and relate things in the same ways that consumer systems do. We need better ways of doing this in library systems, because users expect it.
Embedding resources in the environments in which people need them.
Services that connect your workflows to library resources.
Good search optimization techniques.
The liveblog for the session is available here.
The video of this session is available here.
You can read the American Libraries writeups here: