Fight the future


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A presentation I first did at the South Carolina Library Association in 2012 about a different aspect of what I discussed in Lose the Desk. This time I discuss what shouldn't change instead of what should.

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Fight the future

  1. 1.  A World of Libraries Without Librarians
  2. 2.  Manager York County Headquarters Library Reference / Outreach / Circulation / Collection Development Still a Systems Librarian
  3. 3. "A further sign of health is that we dontbecome undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that its time to stop struggling and look directly at whats threatening us."
  4. 4. … Collections… Curation… Expertise
  5. 5. Libraries automated, adding computers to the infrastructure but circulating things stayed the same. New mediacame in (vinyl, tapes, CDs,etc…) the library handled it all the same. And thelibrary chose how to do it.
  6. 6.  In the Information Age user needs are greater than ever from finding basic sources, to understanding copyright, to getting a book to read to understanding if a website is authoritative There are more sources of every kind than ever There is more access than ever Access to devices and data sources are proliferating
  7. 7. All this stuff is going digital. Digitallydistributed, portably consumed, but sowhat? We’ve got download services.
  8. 8. It’s disruptive. It challenges circulation’s functions andmuch of the workflow of putting materials in patron’s hands. A real but clearly solvable problem.
  9. 9. It’s disruptive. It challenges circulation’s functions andmuch of the workflow of putting materials in patron’s hands. A real but clearly solvable problem.
  10. 10. A library in every pocket challenges ourability to supply our three core skill sets. Collections Curation Expertise
  11. 11.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  12. 12.  Storage (weight, sizes, total  Securing funds space)  Processing Preservation  Cataloging The logistics of purchasing
  13. 13.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  14. 14.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  15. 15.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  16. 16.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  17. 17.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  18. 18.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  19. 19.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  20. 20.  Books (many sizes) Magazines Newspapers Prints Maps Globes Etc…
  21. 21.  New materials are being invented both digitally (FLAC) New materials are being invented physically (Playaways) Consumption devices have to be part of the collection to maintain access (Kindles, computers) Content is often licensed not purchased
  22. 22.  Seek as many sources for materials as possible Determine needs of users Budget
  23. 23.  Seek as many sources for materials as possible (with more aggregators, self distributed and new formats than ever) Budget (no one has enough!) Determine needs of users (with the information age driving needs through the roof & information literacy not keeping pace)
  24. 24. Imagine it is 1985. Tapes are now popular and widelycirculated in libraries and bought in stores. But, the librarianhas to tell the patron the functional differences of the five majorbrands of portable tape players, boom boxes, home stereoplayers and car players just to get the tape to play they’rechecking out and they might ask you which tape player tobuy to get the tapes in your library toplay and then go out and buyanother tape from a store onlyto find out that it
  25. 25. Our ability to provide our three core functions are nowcompromised. There is more content than ever to curate and it challenges us. Collections have newstorage, licensing and management challenges. We arestruggling to catch up. But it’s the expertise that’s being shoved in our face every day by patrons.
  26. 26. Users are increasingly comfortable with and fearless in using the increasingly user friendly technology. But, the ease of use has disguised that their technical and informational skills are not improving significantly.
  27. 27. So, where do they go? The library.
  28. 28. A library in every pocket means a library with a differentcollection (and collection needs), different curation(and those consequences) on a different device(with the expertise that needs). A librarian nowmay work in one library while they work withhundreds of libraries.
  29. 29. Don’t worry, it will get worse.
  30. 30. Don’t worry, it will get worse.No one may have wanted tocirculate 8 Tracks (and mostdidn’t) but nor did anyonewant you to put your storytimes on them. I’ll be doingthat with Youtube soon.
  31. 31. All we have to do is go virtual, get rid of our buildings, thefuture is virtual, we can supply everything throughcomputers…
  32. 32.  being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such i.e. NOT REAL Virtual Libraries have force, power, can have effects but aren’t libraries We don’t need electronic libraries, we need libraries (electronic and more).
  33. 33. I say fight the future The world needs ourbecause the future is collections, curation and a world filled with expertise. They need us libraries and no on their phones andlibrarians, unless we computers. And they do something. need us in physical facilities.
  34. 34. Our basements should beserver farms we host ourdownloadable content on.We need electronic librariesand should have apps forour libraries on everypatron’s smart phone thatthey go to as quickly asYelp or IMDB.
  35. 35. Above ground we needstory times, computer labs,game centers, careercenters, class rooms andeverything else that turnsus into community centers.A book mobile should beparked outside foroutreach.
  36. 36. In both libraries we needlibrarians; we need accessto databases and we needbooks. We need to beavailable by email and inperson. We need humanswho build better tools andhumans who are therewhen the tools aren’t
  37. 37. We need to be OK with part of libraries dying – its calledevolution. A lot of human assisted casual reference andcirculation will go away. This in no way endangers ourcore mission. It does meanthere will be shifts. It doesnot mean that reference orcirculation are dying. Itmeans they are evolving.
  38. 38. However it does mean that a library that doesn’t evolve willfind life as uncomfortable as a ten ton exotherm during the Ice Age – i.e. freezing to death.
  39. 39.  Demand ownership of content. Eliminate middle men for electronic holdings. Fold ERMSs into our ILSes. Make critical decisions about platforms (i.e. e-readers and formats).
  40. 40.  Build community centers. Never let go of libraries in those buildings. Build a vocabulary around information literacy. Find a way to educate about our changing role and their changing needs.
  41. 41.  Integrate collections for complete library experience. Use better statistical tools and technology to better track library needs (e.g. living hoods). Own the content and develop the norms for maintaining electronic holdings.
  42. 42.  Find tools to better manage so many diverse sources. Use consortiums to better manage material limits. Accept that more subject expertise will probably be needed and specializations become more common.
  43. 43.  Libraries get an A+ for this. Do everything we’re doing now and keep going. Career guidance, story times, financial literacy, adult literacy and on and on and on ….
  44. 44.  Stop teaching IT in library schools. We don’t need to know how to spin up a Virtual Machine (thought it’s fine if you do know). Teach XML and RDA and where they’ll intersect. Teach signaling and search algorithms and human searching behavior. Teach to read people for reference interviews and how binary
  45. 45. If this sounds like an argument for fighting to keep traditional libraries – in many ways it is. We need to embrace change, even radical change, but we also canfight the entropy inherit in unguided change. We need toupdate our media and mediums but there is nothing wrong with our values.