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The Things They Carried: The Technologies (and Resulting Expectations) That Our Users Bring Into Our Libraries



“You can't tell where you are, or why you're there, and the only certainty is absolute ambiguity.” –Tim O’Brien ...

“You can't tell where you are, or why you're there, and the only certainty is absolute ambiguity.” –Tim O’Brien

Do you ever feel like this in your library? Are you overwhelmed by the flood of new technologies that seem to pop up faster than you can keep up with them? Do you feel like your role is ambiguous when it comes to helping your users find and master the technologies that could actually be of use to them?

Believe it or not, technology doesn’t have to be a battlefield.

This session will focus on the technologies that your users bring in to your libraries, and how those technologies can be used as launch pads into the library services that you are already providing. We’ll talk about smart phones, especially iPhone and Android devices, e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook, and various types of mp3 players and other gadgets. We’ll also cover some of the expectations that these devices create, and learn ways that library staff can meet them. We’ll also talk about some trending technologies, e.g. location-based tools, QR codes, etc, and discuss how libraries can utilize them to serve their patrons.



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  • Good morning – introductionThings they carried – timo’brienO’brien talks about the things his fellow soldiers carried in Vietnam – most of them relate to their personalities- one man carries comics, another condoms, one a toothbrush and another a bible. They carry non-physical things too, like fear, and memories, and expectations.If you choose to consider libraries a sort of warzone, at least it’s a much less gruesome warzone. Hopefully you don’t think of it as a warzone at all, but you’ll allow me the metaphor as we talk about the things our users carry.Mainly focus on popular things people bring into libraries: mobile phones, smart and dumb, mp3 players, ereaders – and also the non-physical things, their expectations, their hopes, their memories.Over the next 40 minutes or so we’ll cover some ways that we can reach our users, using the things they carry, and provide a better service to them in the process.I confess that I haven’t worked in a public library for about 5 years, so I’m relying on your input if I go astray, or if you have anything to add along the way.
  • I’d like to start with this quote from O’Brien because I think some people may feel this way when confronted with the onslaught of new technologies in the modern age:READ QUOTEPOLL AUDIENCE (do any of you feel like this?)If you don’t feel overwhelmed, maybe I can help …POLL AUDIENCE (how many know): * what a hash tag is * a QR code * augmented reality *facetime * a nook, a kindle, a koboThese are all fairly new technologies, and the point isn’t that we NEED to use these to connect with our audience. I may be a technophile but I still understand the core mission of the library and it’s not to jam technology down people’s throats. Our mission is to connect with our users, though, and if they’re out their using these things, that presents an OPPORTUNITY for us to reach out and connect to them.
  • Opportunity is one of those great words – heck, it’s a great notion, and there are a lot of good quotes about it:“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” –Einstein“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” – Whitney M. Young Jr.Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ combines the symbols for danger and for opportunity …The technologies that our users carry into our libraries present an OPPORTUNITY for us to provide a service to them, and maybe not services that we’re thinking about right now, but that could be worthwhile to investigate further.So I have some thoughts on what technologies I see people carrying into the library, but before I get into those, I’d like to hear your thoughts. POLL: What technologies do your users bring into your libraries?
  • I’m going to focus today on three technologies in particular.The first – I know you’re all aware of this one – is e-readers.POLL: HOW MANY HAVE AN EREADER? HAVE USED ONE? HAVE SEEN SOMEONE USING ONE?E-readers are a big deal, and they aren’t going away. They’re changing the way people read – and they haven’t even reached the tip of the iceberg yet there, because I think there’s a lot of ground to cover in terms of how e-reader CAN affect how we interact with stories …But no matter what we think about it, the library’s #1 brand is books, and anything that impacts how people interacts with books affects libraries a great deal. Maybe, you might argue, more than anything else out there.
  • And while it’s easy to focus on the technology, and there are plenty of them, and lots of cool choices – your kobos, your nooks, your kindles, and now your ipads too …What we should really be interested in is the people – those library users that are reading using an electronic device.David Lankes said in a talk he did recently that books are not social, people are social: connecting with readers makes more sense than connecting with books, and we should focus on the users, not the technologies.
  • And the same thing with mp3 players – it’s not a new technology, by any stretch of the imagination, and as a technology it’s not that interesting to libraries.What IS interesting is the proliferation of mp3 players out there, the cheapness with which they can be acquired, and the users that people can task them with.JUST A QUICK POLL: HOW MANY DO NOT HAVE AN MP3 PLAYER? - ipod, creative zen, sansa device, a zune maybe … maybe your phone plays mp3?
  • The final group we’ll tackle are mobile users. This, of course, is the Android logo, brought to life and tap-dancing merrily on somebody’s touchscreen.POLL: HOW MANY HAVE A SMART PHONE?These things are real game changers, and they blow my mind. Talk about information at your fingertips – and not only information, but situational information, catered to a specific need. If e-readers affect our “book” brand, smart phones affect our “information” brand, our reference services, etc, and in a major way.SWITCH – and I don’t know if any of you feel this way …But doesn’t it seem like the machines are taking over? People are CRAZY about their Androids and their iPhones. And they always have them out, chatting, checking in to a “location”, watching movies …It may be 9 years too late, but it really does feel a little 2001 to me.So those are the three main technologies that we’ll focus on today, and we’ll get started by looking a little more in-depth into e-readers.
  • Quote via Alfred Garwood, a commenter at the Wall Street Journal - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703846604575448093175758872.htmlSo, e-readers. THIS IS A QUOTE FROM … Wall Street Journal – ABCs of e-reading. Lots of new research …POLL: SO IS THIS TRUE? IS THE RISE OF E-READING THE FALL OF LIBRARIES?DISCUSSShort video from IDEO about the future of reading … lots of cool ideas here.
  • Now I’m still an old-school reader – I like a book in my hands and I check them out by the bucket-load from our local library, but these ideas get me pretty excited about a more interactive reading experience.So really here we’re looking at three technologies:First we see the social life of information;Second we see the social life of the reader;Third we see the social life of the story.I particularly enjoy the last example, Alice, because it seems to be more about interacting with the book itself, rather than making reading a social experience.
  • Via - http://www.deloitte.com/us/realitychecke-Readers Open the Door to a New Golden Age for “Print”• 61% of U.S. consumers that purchased e-Books are buying more books in digital format than what they bought in hardcopy/softcopy• 72% of Millennials that purchased e-Books are reading more books in digital format than what they read in hardcopy/softcopy• 55% of U.S. consumers state that the ability to search for related content (such as prior articles) would be somewhat/very influential in purchasing an e-Reader version of a newspaper or magazine• 53% of U.S. consumers state that access to additional content not offered in the print version would be somewhat/very influential• 18% of Millennials state that reading an online version of a newspaper or magazine motivated them to subscribe to the print editionA recent Harris poll adds that 10% of everyone polled own e-readers, and another 10% plan to buy an e-reader in the next 6 months. Which means than in 6 months one person in five in the US will own an e-reader.
  • January 2008 in Washington D.C.So are they competition, or aren’t they? As you can imagine, this kicked up some buzz when librarians ran across it.Especially since everyone knows that nothing is sexier than a librarian.
  • Chicago Public Libraries “Not what you think” campaign. One of my favorite campaigns since Wyoming did those mudflaps.Maybe not “sexy”, more “tough”? But the list of services IS sexy.Take that, Sony.
  • How do e-readers affect what WE do? Check out ebooks to users / help them find free ebooks. Check out ereaders to users. Create e-reader kits, preloaded with books on a certain subject: e.g. starting a business, raising a kid, going back to school, etc. E-reading polls show that they increase reading in general, which is good for libraries. WHAT ELSE?Problems with ebooks: Licensing instead of owning content (a la databases) theft and damage ($ cost!?) loss of book identity (for library)WHAT ELSE?
  • The key with mp3 players is that they’re everywhere. Everyone has one, and everyone likes to listen to something on them. The doorway for libraries here is really in terms of providing content, but there are a lot of ways to do that.
  • Downloadable audiobooks are the big thing in the audio market right now. In the marketplace, businesses like Audible.com are huge, and libraries are just now getting started.Having a usable digital download section on your site is one thing, and letting people download audiobooks through your catalog, that could be good too. A lot of k-12 libraries are taking the pre-loaded mp3 player route, and I think publics could get a lot out of this too.Audiobooks are a good market for us because they relate so strongly to our book brand, and it’s a good edge into technology in the minds of our users.
  • Podcasts are another good way to connect and provide content to our mp3 users. This could be in terms of collecting links to the podcasts we think are worthwhile and making them available on our library websites – maybe we could even put them in our catalogs?I think there’s a lot to be said for the value of curating digital collections, even if it’s collections of free stuff, and making it available.Of course, we could also create our own content, build our own podcasts, which isn’t very technologically complicated or expensive, you just need to have something to talk about.
  • Trouble finding good image because of no-pants flash mob in Paris recently … this one in SPL.Flash mobs tend to happen at libraries, but they’re not generally organized BY libraries. They can be a fun way to create a sense of community around an event or within a group, because participants get to be secret co-conspirators in something that no one else knows about.Improv Everywhere MP3 Experiments – everyone turns on MP3 players at once and you get a silent flash mob, everyone doing the same thing with a single MP3 track or use multiple tracks to add diversity.Library scavenger hunts!?They’re fun, but mainly a promotional tool – but they could also be a good gimmick to spread the word about the library and to catch some new interest from your non-traditional library users.
  • Everyone loves music.Right now Freegal is the only service I know of that is basically selling music rights to libraries to provide free downloads to their patrons. And while it’s happening at libraries in other states we’re not entirely sure that it’s legal here in WA, since you’re basically using public funds to buy a product for an individual.Otherwise, though, there is a lot of free and open source music out there that could, like podcasts, be curated and shared with users.
  • Mobile devices are like the “everything else” category. They are e-reader and they are MP3 players, and they can do nearly anything else, too.Therereally isn’t anything that a person couldn’t do with a mobile device, and they expect to be able to anything. If there’s not an app for that, then that’s a fail.There are some cool apps, though, and some cool ideas that could have an impact on libraries.
  • First, an oldie but goodie. Text messaging may not be new, but it’s still the most popular thing that most people do on their phones, and there are a lot of services integrated into texting now. You can check the weather or flight info, do a search on Google, get movie times, get answers to questions, and a lot more.Sadly, unless your library is really pushing the edge, you can’t place a hold on a book, text a librarian, or find out the library’s hours with a text message. Texting isn’t new and it’s something that people really expect at this point. If someone leaves a # on Craigslist I’d rather text them than call, and even my best friends texts all the time but he hates talking on the phone.Using a tool like Google Voice would let a library implement texting without needing a cell phone, and it can integrate into email and virtual reference workflows too.HOW MANY HAVE HEARD OF GOOGLE VOICE? EXPLAIN.INTRODUCE CONCEPT OF AUGMENTED REALITY.UP NEXT: GOOGLE VIDEO – GOOGLE GOGGLES
  • I would call the library version “Library Lense”Find and learn more about books, find readalikes. Find the closest reference librarian or staff person to provide assistance.Have an information overlay on a map of your internet computers that shows which ones are available, which are reserved, and which will become available soon.An example of augmented reality, which is, I think, the coolest and most library-applicable thing happening in the smart-phone arena. Augmented reality basically means that you put another layer on top of what you see that provides additional information about what you’re looking at.POLL: How many ways do you see that libraries could take advantage of this?
  • Location-based services are trending like crazy right now. Foursquare and Gowalla are probably the biggest, though Facebook just launched their Places tool which is similar.These services are basically a game that allows people to check into a location. So for instance, if you went to Starbucks you could check in, leave a little note or send something out on Facebook that said you checked in at Starbucks … and say you checked in 10 more times that week, you might get a “badge” calling you a coffee junkie. This can come with some real-life perks, for instance in Foursquare if you become the mayor of a particular Starbucks then you might get a deal on your favorite grande drink once per day.People do check in at libraries, and yours is probably listed in these services already, since anyone can add you. Your role, then, would be to interact with the people checking in at your building, create some perks for those people that are checking in a lot, and give them incentive to come back. For instance, maybe the mayor gets all their fines waived, or maybe they get longer on the internet computers. You could also use these services to provide some sort of scavenger hunt in the library, having people “check in” once they’d found the manga section, and then again once they’d found a biography of Ben Franklin.This can be another fun tool that gets users to interact with the library in a new and interesting way., and increases our value in the eyes of our users even if it isn’t offering too much in the way of direct service.
  • Apps, apps, and more apps!You’ve probably heard the phrase “There’s an app for that”. For the most part, it’s true, and there are a handful of library apps out there that are pretty great, too. SPL has a great app …The Ask-WA app connects any users in WA to a live chat librarian, 24x7. You can see Sno-Isle on the list there, of course, since this app connects through the statewide virtual reference cooperative that Sno-Isle participates in.The library of congress has an app, too, which provides a virtual tour, among other things, and you can see in the corner there all the other apps with the words “public library” in their names.A lot of library apps allow library users to complete normal tasks like place holds, search the catalog, and check hours. But there’s nothing to stop us from making more innovative apps: for instance, those that turn the library into a social network for mobile users, or that locate the nearest reference librarian, or that challenge our users to read more, or different, books.POLL – OTHER THINGS THAT APPS COULD DO?We can work with apps out there or choose to develop our own.
  • I like this quote because I think it applies strongly to libraries – especially when it comes to technology. We shouldn’t spend our time mastering technologies that our users may not want.What we should do is out what technologies they’re using, already, in their day-to-day lives, and then spend our time mastering those. And we could do worse than taking a close look at e-readers, mp3 players, and mobile phones, and finding out how we can integrate our services with those devices. And there may be some hurdles.Libraries are in a prime position to develop local social networks based on reading. This starts with letting users tag, rate, and comment on books, and continues to the point where your users are friending each other because they like the same books, making recommendations to other users, and interacting more with each other and with the library that makes these interactions possible. Of course, so long as we maintain our stranglehold on patron privacy, this isn’t possible. We can’t have our cake and eat it too, and privacy is one of those tenets that many libraries won’t negotiate.But maybe it’s time we did?DISCUSSION ABOUT PRIVACY, IF THERE’S TIME.I’ve used the word “users” throughout this talk because it’s generic, though I’d be yelled at for some. David Lankes suggests we use the term “members”, and treat them not as passive consumers but as active constructors. Many of our services now are geared toward the passive consumer mindset: we have books, come get them. How would that change if we encouraged participation from our users, and brought them in to help build the library and its services? If we become a center for participation, does that change what we do or why or how we do things?
  • Yay Creative Commons!
  • I’m afraid I may have asked more questions than I provided the answers for. But I hope some of the topics I covered were useful, and I hope, at the least, that you’ll go and take a fresh look at these three technologies, and think about how you can use them to ENGAGE your users, to get them to PARTICIPATE, and to reach out to them in new and exciting ways.It’s been my pleasure to talk to you all here today, and if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas about the things I talked about, please feel free to get in touch with me anytime.Thank you.

The Things They Carried: The Technologies (and Resulting Expectations) That Our Users Bring Into Our Libraries The Things They Carried: The Technologies (and Resulting Expectations) That Our Users Bring Into Our Libraries Presentation Transcript

    The Technologies (and Resulting Expectations)
    That Our Users Bring Into Our Libraries
    Ahniwa Ferrari
  • “You can’t tell where you are,
    Or why you’re there
    And the only certainty
    Is absolute ambiguity.”
    - Tim O’brien
  • E-readers
  • This e-reader.
    Not this e-reader …
  • Mp3 Listeners
    Mp3 players
  • Mobile
  • E-readers
    “The real losers in the ascendancy of e-books are public libraries who are seeing the last of their business model go out the window.”
  • Oh?
  • Now That’s sexy
  • Mp3 players
  • Podcasts
  • Flash mobs
  • music
  • Mobile devices
  • Sms / texting
  • Closing thoughts
    “There go my people.
    I must find out
    Where they are going
    so I can lead them.”
    - AlexandreAugusteLedru-Rollin
  • Photo Credits
    1. Toy Soldiers (silhouette)
    2. Seed Heads #3
    3. End of summer
    4. Yay! The WHOLE Kindle Family
    5. Girl reading her Amazon Kindle ...
    6. Touch Me
    7. P1010714
    7.2.1968- “2001” – Hal’s Eye
    8. No more rulers, no more books
    9. IDEO: The Future of the Book
    10. eBook Readers Galore
    11. Reader Digital Book
    12. Chicago Public Library: Not What You Think
    13. Sno-Isle Libraries: Edmonds Library – Explore!
    14. Audiobook
    15. Washington State Library: Downloadable Audiobooks for WA
    16. Roscoe Considers Recording a Podcast
    17. DANCE This Flash Mob @ Seattle Library
    18. Blind Sax Melancholy – Bangkok, city of angels
    19. Original iPhone + iPhone 3G + iPhone 4
    20. Blackberry
    21. Google Goggles
    22. Infographic matrix – Location Based Social Networks
    23. App Screenshots: Ask-WA, Library of Congress, Seattle Public Library, all apps for “public library”
    Via iTunes
    24. day 69
    Creative commons ftw
  • The Things They Carried:The Technologies (and Resulting Expectations)
    That Our Users Bring Into Our Libraries
    Sno-Isle Libraries: Staff Inservice Day
    11 October 2010
    Ahniwa Ferrari
    Online Resources Consultant
    Washington State Library