Monday, August 30, 2004
Stephen Cohen over at the Library Stuff blog responds: "Of course, the first thing that came to mind was that Peter should contact Dynix and show them what he has done. My second thought was that he should contact the other vendors and show them how it can easily be done. My third and final thought was to contact Peter, get on my knees, put my hands in the air, and scream, "I'm Not Worthy". Great spidering work Peter. I'd love to see some other feeds that can be created with the Dynix catalog (RSS Feeds by DDC or subject headings, perhaps?)"
DDC...hmm, there's an idea. Wait, Dewey R Us! Off to OCLC Research this suggestion goes! And thanks to David Leslie for pointing me to this--he had mused only a few days ago how useful it would be to have such an RSS feed.
And apropros of nothing....I've met Peter Rukavina. He spoke at the Access 2002 conference in Windsor.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
To some extent, it is already an artifact because none of the trends we highlighted froze at the moment we looked at them. Much has happened in the 12 months since the research was done. And I keep hoping to hear specific changes that have been made in a library organization as a result of some hard thinking and hard work about the issues we raised. Mind you, because hard work is needed for hard issues, such changes do take time.
Yesterday I gave a presentation to librarians in the Montgomery County Public Libraries system in Maryland. And in the coming weeks, I'll be doing scanny presentations for the University of Victoria, the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (my alma mater) at the University of British Columbia, the Columbus Metropolitan Library here in Ohio, the Connecticut State Library, the Library System of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the South Carolina Library Association, the West Virginia Library Association and the Southern Appalachian chapter of SLA, in Nashville, Tennessee. So, as you see, interest in the scan comes from all sorts of libraries.
Some of the presentations I do are informational--people want to hear about the Scan and how we did the work. But quite a few ask that the presentation be one piece of a larger strategic planning activity and this is heartening. On occasion, attendees at such meetings include people from the library's governance structure. A university provost attended one session I gave, and library trustees have attended two presentations for public library systems.
Also, George and I are both speaking to library school students as we've found some interest among library educators in developing better strategic planning skills in library graduates. Several schools will be using the Scan in fall courses.
Those of us involved in writing the Scan and now, in making presentations on it, have speculated as to why it has received the attention is has. It certainly seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist. It perhaps points to a need we have in librarianship for big ideas presented in an easily accessible way, written in a non-academic style that can be shared with people outside our discipline. And it suggests a gap in our collective abilities to do environmental scanning, scenario building and strategic planning that does not result in "managing the past."
George noted Martin's seminal 1940s report that was one of the factors in the establishment of public libraries in the U.S. as we now know them. I direct your attention to three reports--seminal? Perhaps not, but these reports, one from the U.S. and two from the U.K., take very different positions on what public libraries should be.
The U.S. one, "Barbarians at the Gates of the Public Library: How Postmodern Consumer Capitalism Threatens Democracy, Civil Education and the Public Good "is by Ed D'Angelo, a librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library. And the U.K. ones are "Who's in Charge: Responsibility for the Public Library Service" , by Tim Coates, who's worked in publishing and book retailing (That one of his main conclusions is U.K. libraries need to buy more books wouldn't have anything to do with his 30 years of working in the book trade, would it?) and Overdue, by Charles Leadbeater, who is as critical of public libraries in the U.K. as Coates. The last sentence of Overdue is "Libraries are sleepwalking to disaster: it’s time they woke up."
"Crikey!" as my English granpa would have said, tough language indeed.
That's all changing soon. Between September 30 and November 5, I'll be speaking on the scan at programs for the Urban Libraries Council, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, the Ohio Public Library Information Network, the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida, and NEBASE, the OCLC regional network in Nebraska. (Somehow, I have two programs on my Outlook calendar that I can't identify and that may also be scan presentations.) Charles Kratz, the new president of the Members Council, has planned the three meetings of Council this year around the scan.
The interest is both gratifying and scary. It's gratifying how much interest the scan has generated, and this interest has created a lot of discussion in the community.
But this in turn generates two fears in my mind. First, we can't let the scan get stuck in time; it will become an artifact way too quickly. And second, we can't let discussion of the scan be a substitute for action.
In the late 1940's, Lowell Martin published a report on public libraries in the United States, noting how bad they were for the most part. This report, coupled with the enactment of the Library Services Act in the mid-1950s, saw an explosion in the quantity and quality of public libraries in the US. (Admittedly there were many other factors at play here. But this is a blog, not a dissertation.) This combination of intellectual rigor and nose-to the-grindstone hard work by library workers and their supporters made life better for millions of library users.
I hope some future library historian can say the same for our generation.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
In the article, Vonnegut rails against the current Homeland Security measures that impact the anonymity of library use (See related American Libraries post), and he praises librarians for resisting compliance.
At one point, he expresses such distaste for the current U.S. media--he claims that the only place he can get unbiased opinions is in books.
Surely e-books qualify...
Monday, August 23, 2004
It seems that people with these syndromes are frequently speeded up or slowed down by their illnesses, but that their perceptions of time are not. So while a person with these ailments may seem to be engaged in rapid tics or incredibly slow motor functions, from the inside, everything seems temporally "normal." Sacks writes
People with severe Tourette's...may find the movements and thoughts and reactions of other people unbearably slow for them, and we 'neuro-normals' may at times find (Tourette's patients) disconcertingly fast.In Parkinson's, the temporal perception may change in a single person in a flash. Sacks writes about one patient
One parkinsonian friend of mine says that being in a slowed state is like being stuck in a vat of peanut butter, while being in an accelerated state is like being on ice, frictionless, slipping down an ever-steeper hill, or on a tiny planet, gravityless, with no force to hold or moor him.Scary stuff. But as I read the article, all I could think was that our world is suffering from a similar temporal dislocation. At times, it feels like time is hurtling out of control, with technological and social change battering us faster than we can possibly deal with it. At other times, the pace of change seems glacial, as we attempt to do the things that seem so obvious, but which feel like an incalculable effort is needed to press even slightly forward.
This isn't like what happened to Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel Slaughterhouse Five. Billy never knows where he is going to be in time, but time moves at a "normal" pace for him. This is more like watching a time lapse movie of a flower opening, getting to see what may take weeks happen in a matter of seconds, or those famous ultra slow motion films of a bullet piercing a balloon, where what takes milliseconds in our temporal reality takes several seconds for us to view.
We see things in the scan that seem so obvious. But to some observers, we're slogging through that peanut butter, while to others we are all frictionless on a river of ice. If we are to introduce change successfully, we need to find ways to turn peanut butter into a lubricant while putting a little sand down on the ice.
And so it goes.
Anyway, just finished sending the final ads for WebJunction. I'm working on finishing up placements for OCLC CAPCON, and clearing the trusty whiteboard for ideas on the next round of OCLC Advertising creative. While I was looking in The Crab, the newsletter of the Maryland Library Association, I found a fun article (page 4 of 20: "Ten Things I Never Thought I would Do") that made me laugh, and reminded me why I love librarians.
New Advertising takes shape
This round of advertising is going to be really interesting--and we're operating under a whole different mindset with our advertising this year. Instead of advertising our services to librarians whose budgets are still not being funded at the level they deserve--why don't we talk to the people in charge of funding?
So it's really an educational campaign for nonlibrarians, to understand that libraries are (and should be funded as) the hub of your respective community's infosphere. And that libraries are a good economic investment, as well as an intellectual one. I could go on and on about this project, but my main question is this one: If we could contact your funding bodies with this message of "Did you know this about your Library and what funding them adequately could mean...," who would we contact? Send me names, addresses, Web sites!
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
I've mentioned David before as he's a regular reader, commenter and OCLC staffer, working in the Architecture and Standards division. As well as contributing to our blog, he's very interested in ways to use blogs, Wiki and RSS to better manage project information here at OCLC. In fact, he'll be giving a talk on this to staff in his own division next month. If you're interested in this too, I am sure David would be happy to share his thoughts with you. His email addresses are at the top of his web page.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
The opening speaker was marvelous: José Aponte, the Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There were many highlights to his talk, titled "Dancing with Elephants: Staying Relevant in Changing Times." But several of them directly related to the scan.
José spoke extensively about the idea of the library as a "sanctuary," which he defined very much as a third place. He talked about the need to create a sense of public space that will empower the communities that use that space, that will reflect and engage the entire service district. He spoke of using demographics to the library's advantage. Noting the graying and the browning of the US population, he said, "These are our users. Take advantage of this." He also spoke of the need to build archival collections that recognize the contributions that all the various communities have made to the building of the modern, variegated community. He said that in Colorado Springs, the library had done a pretty good job of reflecting the current demographic make up of the community, but in its historical collection, it had omitted the role of the Spanish and Mexican settlers that had developed the area and given many of the geographic features their names.
José was also very eloquent on the need for political (as opposed to partisan) planning and strategy in libraries. He stressed the importance of knowing what is important to your boss. He said that while he reads LJ and American Libraries, he also reads the magazines and web sites that government officials read, such as the Governing Magazine site. He also repeatedly mentioned the importance of understanding demographics in planning for the future, the logical outgrowth of which might be reading American Demographics magazine and website.
One comment José made touched me very deeply. He said, "Choose optimism over pessimism. But understand that optimism requires action."
We have about 160 people attending this conference, and about 110 who are going to come to hear Martín Gómez, the new President of the Urban Libraries Council and a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees, at our fundraising dinner for the ALA Spectrum Scholarship program. These are people who have chosen optimism over pessimism, and it is inspiring to see them plan action.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Ms. Dempsey goes on to explain how Borders has designed itself as a "third place," and uses examples from the chain's store design, program offerings, and from a spokesperson from the firm to back this concept up. But I think they miss one key attribute of a true third place. It has to be noncommercial, in my opinion. There should not be the expectation of a purchase in a third place, and although Borders is a wonderful place to lounge (I do it regularly myself), it's still a store. The sound of cash registers, the presence of sale tables, and the offers of gift certificates around the store attest to the nature of the place.
Libraries have managed to keep the commercial element to a minimum. Even those libraries with coffee shops and used book stores seem to have figured how to keep this element in perspective. I was in the Dublin Branch of the Columbus Metro Library on Saturday afternoon, and was struck again by the simple joys of relative quiet and of people sharing a passion for their favorite public service.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
I saw the earlier post about libraries and gaming and thought I'd mention that this is going to be one of the major topics of conversation at the October meeting of the OCLC Members Council. We will host a discussion of the educational implications of gaming on Sunday night, and on Monday morning, three OCLC staffers who are serious gamers themselves will provide a demonstration. And by the way, did you all see the article in USA Today this week about the educational uses of games?
One of my favorite stops on our cruise was Grand Cayman Island, which was just gobsmacked by Tropical Storm Charley. (A colleague of mine in Tallahassee just e-mailed me that the National Weather Service really missed an opportunity by not naming this storm Clyde, so that we would have had a one-two punch of Bonnie and Clyde.) Anyway, on Grand Cayman, I stopped at the public library, which was quite busy at lunchtime last Monday, and which featured several PCs for public use. It's a historic building just behind the tourist strip that I happened upon quite by accident. If I can figure out how to upload the picture I took, I'll share it with y'all.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
The question was roughly about how fair it was to use her star status to unduly influence voters. Her reply was terrifically un-Hollywood. She said without skipping a beat, "I just envision the world I want for my kids. And that's who I vote for. So when people ask me who I'm supporting, I tell them."
Listen to the full story here.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
This evening I am here waiting to catch a flight to Vancouver, B.C. and then on to Penticton, B.C. in the Okanagan Valley, tomorrow morning for a week's vacation. Napa Valley North. I am not sure I'll be visiting any libraries but I will spend time with a few librarians. Several people from the library community in Alberta have retired to this part of B.C. and we'll get together sometime for dinner and some tall tales. We all used to belong to a society known by its initials IPALLOSH (InterProvicial Association of Library Lovers of Sheep). The genesis of the name was the Monty Python skit called Ovine Aviation, but also appropriated the British Wool Board's mascot, Sarah. Hence, each President of IPALLOSH was referred to as the Grand Sarah, regardless of gender. Mind you, some of them did insist on being the Grand Harold (see the Ovine link). There were a lot of library directors who put IPALLOSH on their CVs. I certainly did. Baa-aa. May the flock be with you.
Since I'm always curious about architecture and spatial design for buildings, I picked up the August edition of House and Garden. Not the New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, This Old House or even Dwell. No, the cover allured me with its ocean scene of tranquility--something the Newark airport is decidedly lacking in.
What a delight when I flip to page 60 and there's a feature story on the new Seattle Public Library!
Of course, the article centers on the innovative design and the architect, Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Still, the words and glossy photo spreads more than convey the central theme: libraries of the future are hip, cool and here to stay. (See the library's own slide show.) A quote from the H & G article says it's "a state-of-the-art facility that...reinvents the library for the electronic age." (63)
They use RFID to speed book sorting and there's a mixing chamber (a trading floor for information) and a book spiral, a rectangular ramp system that lets materials be displayed by their DDC classification in an interrupted flow.
The kicker comes at the end of the short article:
"With economy and elegance, Koolhaas throws new light on his subject, which turns out to be not just a library, but a model of how to make a rousing noncommercial public space in an age when the shopping mall often seems America's defining building type."
Yeah! Go libraries!
Friday, August 06, 2004
We the People
For the first time, bloggers have been awarded press credentials to cover the national political conventions. That's a harbinger of bigger changes in the media landscape, according to nationally known columnist Dan Gillmor. His new book, "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People," tells the story of the grassroots journalists--including bloggers--who are dismantling Big Media's monopoly on the news.
Through Internet-fueled, interactive vehicles like blogs, these readers-turned-reporters are transforming the news from a lecture to a conversation. They're publishing in real time to a worldwide audience that's eager to read their independent, unfiltered reports. And the impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover. "We the Media" sheds light on this deep shift in how we make--and consume--the news.
Journalism in the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the Big Media that prevails today. "We the Media" casts light on the future of journalism, and invites us to be part of it.
Now I need to use that xISBN bookmarklet to find it on someone's shelf!
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Now, normally a tattoo on the arm doesn't excite me. But I'm there with a colleague from OCLC, Gregor, and we both realize simultaneously that the tattoo is for the Columbus Metropolitan Library! And that this young, hip, ice-cream-scooping girl, all of 22, is sporting it in its full glory!
Curiosity Took Over
Of course we had to ask.
"Wow, how'd you get that tattoo?" I ask.
Gregor, always the bold one, cuts to the chase. "Is it real?"
It turns out it was temporary, but she seemed surprised at all our effervescence. "Yeah, I got it from a friend who works there. It's cool. [shrug] I like it."
Moral of the story
Now, whenever someone scoffs at you, to say libraries aren't cool with the hip young crowd, tell them about the ice cream tattoo. Kids are branding themselves with your library logos!
If I only had a photo of this event...I would show you.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Online Gaming is done by Grandmas.
Here's the Wired article that a colleague, Mickey Hawk, sent around about The Wrinkled Future of Online Gaming.
Mickey explains that,
"we can't lose sight of seniors in the online future. I certainly
understand the attraction of enticing youth to our libraries to create lifelong relationships, but let's not lose them as they age.
Note that the key to 'gaming' and community in general seems to be to provide people with "a place to go" ('the third place' we've been talking about) that is exciting, yet familiar (This is one reason you see familiar offline icons used in online applications, like 'envelopes' used to communicate in e-mail applications and why it prospered as "e-mail" rather than "messaging"). Then entice them with new, but similar experiences while rewarding them for trying the new things."
Mickey went on to isolate a few key passages from the article:
Yet with 82.5 million players in the casual gaming sector, Word Whomp and its ilk have almost 20 times the following of the hardcore titles like Counter-Strike and EverQuest that get all the media attention.
The ruling class of online gamers isn't pimply young boys, it's moms - and grandmas. Ruth Lyon is a 66-year-old retired nurse in Honor, Michigan. Instead of watching Jeopardy or reading, she spends three or four hours a night playing euchre and bridge online with her son in California and her daughter in Ohio. And, since she lives tucked away in a cottage on a remote lake, she finds it a convenient way to make friends. "It's amazing how many older people are doing this," she says. Online games also help Anne Richards, 56, feel less alone. Confined to a wheelchair, Richards spends a lot of time inside her Florida home. "What I really like is that it's a place to find some human contact," she says. "It gives me a place to go."
"Gamer still has the connotation of technogeek. I don't think the Pogo audience even knows what a gamer is." But that's just semantics. As Hachenburg notes, "What's casual about someone spending eight hours a day playing Word Whomp?"
Getting people to start gaming is one thing; getting them to keep doing it is another. Spinning around in his chair at EA, Tahd Frentzel says one reason he thinks people hang out at Pogo longer than at other gaming sites is the "experience" it offers. Badges aren't just hokey, pixelated tchotchkes, he says; they're sources of pride and self-esteem. Word Whomp offers players all the glory of an EverQuest win, but without the bloody mess.
Kudos to Mickey for sending this around. What are some of your experiences with gaming? Do people do it in your libraries? I'd like to put together a gaming portal where all of us who don't "game" can have a go of it. Anyone interested?
Monday, August 02, 2004
- Alane is in DC.
- George is in Chicago.
- I was in New York.
The Library Tour
The woman who led our tour, an undergraduate ready to begin her junior year, led us to the Butler library with great gusto. She readily explained that the library was the place to be--and that anyone who is anyone at Columbia spends untold hours in the physical library and on their Web site.
If her presentation was any indication, I'd say academic libraries are still a big hit with students. Here are a few excerpts from the tour:
"Oh yeah, we can bring food and eat in here. It's convenient--there's a coffee bar/cafe in the basement when you get hungry. Sometimes people even order pizza to be delivered to their study carrel!"
"We use eBooks a lot--and digital collections. We're totally wireless. The entire library is a hotspot, so you can take your laptop to the stacks and still have a Web connection."
"One of my professors made us use the physical card catalog, just to make sure we all didn't think that Web searches were the only source of information."
So all of these things: unrestricted food and drink in the library, student knowledge of eBooks, and professor-mandated use of the card catalog, make me realize how far we've come since I was a lowly undergraduate. Even graduate student, when I had to schlep all my research materials to UCL because the book I needed could not leave the library and I could not afford to photocopy it!
With this great facility and glowing endorsement from a real life college student, I am proud to say that I am now one of the newest Columbia University library card holders with borrowing privileges. All I can say is, good thing they have a great Web site! (See the cool Digital Scriptorium!)
Sunday, August 01, 2004
But, interesting stuff and a most interesting assortment of people from a wide variety of sectors. I've met the Policy Director for the Quebec Liberal Party, a senior person in the state library of Maryland, the Director of HR at the Ocean County Library, NJ, many "futurologist" consultants who work with clients running the gamut from Coca-Cola to the Pentagon, and some who are characters you'd have a hard time inventing, like the cybersexologist with a Phd who's a pagan--not an odd thing in her family as her dad is a druid. And I am not even going to provide a link to her web site as you have to be over 18 to go in which means it would not be wise for me to forever link an OCLC blog with it. That would be a CLM as my sister would say...a career limiting move.
So, for the next few posts I am going to share some things that I've heard or read here.
Ten Innovative Products for the Next Decade.
1. Genetaceuticals --treatments combining genetic research and pharmaceuticals.
2. Personalized computers --customized hardware and software
3. Multi-fuel automobliles -- combining electricity, natural gas and gasoline--and
maybe animal fats.
4. Next-generation TV -- high-definition, wall-sized flat screens.
5. Electronic wallet -- a smart card to replace cash, keys, driver's license, medical records and so on.
6. Home health monitors -- automated analysis of your vital systems.
7. Smart maps and tracking devices -- for finding lost kids, pets or a new restaurant.
8. Smart materials -- sensors detect stress in bridges and buildings.
9. Weight control and anti-aging products -- ranging from genetic cures for baldness to nutritionally enhanced fruits and veggies.
10. Never-owned, leased-only products -- computers, refrigerators and other appliances that become obsolete quickly.