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Presentation to Library Assistants' Day 2014, NLNZ
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Presentation to Library Assistants' Day 2014, NLNZ


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  • 1. “First: there is one.”* A few thoughts on the digital future of libraries Presented to Library Assistants Day 14 April 2014 Michael Lascarides Manager, National Library Online National Library of New Zealand - Te Puna Mātauranga @mlascarides * Tip o’ the hat to @librarykris Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 2. Don’t think of digital as something separate. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Digital is now (and will be for the rest of your careers) inextricably linked to the physical. It will be a different mode of the same thing, like reading aloud vs reading silently from the printed page.
  • 3. Tuesday, May 6, 14 We think about new things in terms of what preceded them. They take time to become their own things. “Digital Libraries” are an example of this phenomenon.
  • 4. Stop worrying about the future of reading. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Books are not going to go away. People are reading more than ever.
  • 5. Tuesday, May 6, 14 People who worry about the future of books think most books look like this.... Altar Gospels.
  • 6. Tuesday, May 6, 14 ...but many look like this...
  • 7. Tuesday, May 6, 14 ...or this.
  • 8. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Many books were just waiting to turn into something as awesome as this.
  • 9. Tuesday, May 6, 14 And while we’re on the subject, stop fretting that the kids with their LOLs and their OMGs are becoming illiterate. In fact, they’re writing better than ever. (First-year students have always sucked at writing; today’s suck a little less.)
  • 10. Be specific. What books? What use? What patrons? Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 11. Tuesday, May 6, 14 (Note: this slide is anecdotal, not data-based. Caveat emptor.) Many libraries are seeing the figures for certain parts of their collections plummet due to the internet (eg, general reference vs. Google and Wikipedia), but an increase in others (popular titles, rare and unique items). KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
  • 12. Mobile computing matters. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 13. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 14. Tuesday, May 6, 14 The fastest computer in the world in 1990 is slower than one iPad.
  • 15. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Your phone now does all of this. (1985).
  • 16. Tuesday, May 6, 14 There are almost as many phones on the planet as people. Circles represent population. Dark circles represent number of cellphone subscriptions. Light areas represent the difference. (Data: World Bank; Visualisation: Michael)
  • 17. Tuesday, May 6, 14 The always-on connection can lead you from “hey there’s smoke!” to...
  • 18. Tuesday, May 6, 14 to...
  • 19. Tuesday, May 6, 14 this in seconds.
  • 20. Make connections. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 21. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Make your data linkable and of the web (not just on it)!
  • 22. Design for participation. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 23. Tuesday, May 6, 14 [35:00]
  • 24. Tuesday, May 6, 14 http://
  • 25. Tuesday, May 6, 14
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  • 29. Tuesday, May 6, 14 If it’s possible to keep track of who’s participating, give rewards. Hold a special reception with refreshments in your library, and only give the invitation to online participants. If you’re not tracking the identity of participants, make sure the messaging you display is loaded with gratitude.
  • 30. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Expose the stories behind a collection, and make them relatable to users. Use feedback to create narratives (as in Old Weather, where every entry moves the ship along on a map).
  • 31. Tell stories. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 32. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 33. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 34. Understand as much as you can about copyright. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 35. Tuesday, May 6, 14
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  • 37. If you want to take an image of “The Milkmaid” and put it on toilet paper, it’s OK with me. But don’t take it off of Google Images—take it off of Rijksstudio because we have the best image. Peter Gorgels, Rijksmuseum NZ National Digital Forum, 2013 Tuesday, May 6, 14 This is the healthiest attitude towards open reuse that I can think of.
  • 38. Become porous. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 39. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Traditional library practice is like a fortress with a guarded entrance, because it was tacitly assumed that use = decay.
  • 40. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Don’t do this.
  • 41. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Be open. Put as many holes in your walls as possible. Digital libraries can get better with use. And there is no single “right” pathway into and through the library. The best thing you can do for a patron might be to send them somewhere else.
  • 42. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 43. Look for better problems. Tuesday, May 6, 14
  • 44. Tuesday, May 6, 14 The prevalence of the word “becaufe” in Google Books (due to improper scanning of the olde-style “s”) was cited by some as a problem with Google Books itself. I think it’s a great example of a better problem to have... I’d rather see a critical view of the GB corpus than not have GB at all. %2Cbecaufe&year_start=1600&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cbecause%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B %2Cbecaufe%3B%2Cc0
  • 45. Libraries are ideally positioned Tuesday, May 6, 14 Hmmm, a cohort of trained information professionals with deep, physical roots in our communities and an ethos of sharing information as freely as possible? Yes, I think we can put them to work helping people :)
  • 46. Play! Tuesday, May 6, 14 Experiment. The whole world is changing. The Web itself is built by people who make it up as they go along. Jump in and make something.
  • 47. Have empathy. Tuesday, May 6, 14 Everyone is one this ride together. Some will thrive. Some may lag behind. Some will be OK with a bit of hand-holding. Understand what your patrons are grappling with, and learn as much as you can about how to help them.
  • 48. Thank you! Questions, please. Presented to Library Assistants Day 14 April 2014 Michael Lascarides Manager, National Library Online National Library of New Zealand - Te Puna Mātauranga @mlascarides Tuesday, May 6, 14