Thursday, September 30, 2004
First, let me say if you ever get a chance to do an audioconference, do it. There's nothing better than being able to do a talk without putting on a tie or getting on an airplane.
Second, this discussion raised some really good issues about the future of public libraries. For example, Mona Carmack (one of the people we interviewed for the Library section of the Scan, and a former member of our Advisory Committee on Public Libraries) talked about the need to run "dual systems" as libraries morph into what they will become. Ginnie Cooper picked up on this as she talked about staff needs for training and understanding.
Martín Gómez asked Bob Martin if the people inside the Washington Beltway were saying that libraries are not going to be needed since everything is on the web. Bob said that this sort of thinking seems to have peaked several years ago, and as more people have experience with the web, and understand its limitations, the need for libraries becomes even more apparent. He stressed that the web is good for deluging the user with information, but libraries continue to have a role in the transformation of information to knowledge (and who knows, maybe even to wisdom...)
Mike Crandall talked about the various levels at which libraries around the world exist today, and spoke about what the Gates Foundation has learned in its interactions in Chile. Martín said it sounded as if we could learn from libraries outside the US, and Mike strongly agreed with him. Ginnie noted that one thing that we could learn is how to skip generations of unproductive or superseded technology to get right to the heart of what's needed now.
We had a lot of good questions from the 77 sites that participated in the call. One caller asked about how the library community could affect change with its suppliers. My answer was that you have to ask. I said that many of OCLC's new products and services came about because libraries asked for them, in RFPs, in meetings with sales staff, in discussion with network staff, when they stop by our booth at conferences. I also said that the best way to do this is to get state associations, regional cooperatives, and affinity groups to pull together to make these suggestions, to add weight to them. Another question that I wish I could answer dealt with how you can pick the trends from the fads; if I knew that one, I'd own my own blog. I did suggest that if enough of us pick up on a fad, it could become a trend if we reach the critical mass.
I'll be on the road a lot over the next few weeks talking about the scan (and tomorrow, a side trip to the Ohio Library Council conference to talk about WebJunction). I hope the rest of the programs are as interesting and challenging as this one, but without that cast of reactors, it's hard to see how they could be!
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
OCLC has several means of officially disseminating news but we are not yet using an RSS feed to let interested people get product updates, press releases and technical bulletins. We're working on it. (I know, you're thinking, how hard is that?)
And as this blog is a George, Alane and Alice production, (with full approval from our bosses--most days) and not an official OCLC vehicle, we quite deliberately decided not to use it as a platform to, um, flog OCLC services and products. Perhaps we're being too hands' off?
I am in Vancouver, British Columbia...as I have mentioned before, my library degree is from UBC and it is always a great pleasure to come back here. I'll be talking to the students in the library and archival programs at UBC on Thursday. Wendy McGinnis, the OCLC Director of PR, will be with me and we're hoping a Newsletter article will be the result--what are those librarians/archivists-to-be thinking?
I know I am thinking that I'm older now than half of my library school professors were!
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Clearly, we must be doing something right.
And did everyone see the Information Week article last week, Media & Entertainment: From Games To Ads, Self-Service Works ? I admit, it's not exactly the kind of self-service we think of in the library space, but the headline alone caught my eye as being "scanny," as Alane calls it.
So where have I been lately?
Just got back from a weekend in New Orleans. The Big Easy, the Cresent City, NOLA. What other city has so many nicknames?
Ate at a great restaurant, Jacques-Imo's and went to The Maple Leaf, next door. Fantastic, both. Next time ALA is in New Orleans, save up for the cab ride out there. Or perhaps we can go together as one big group? The "It's all good," party of 1,442+3? Your table is ready. (Disclaimer: 1,442 is what A9.com reported as our inbound links.
Dropped into Harrah's, in case Lady Luck was with us (assuredly, she was not). What surprised me was the information design (or seeming LACK of it) on the video slot machines. There were rows and rows of loud, blinking, flashing machines--all competing for my attention and all fairly enigmatic to the uninitiated. Each time I would bet my nickel, I would have to renavigate again (which button do I push now? What one makes the fruit spin? Why can I pull the lever or push the button and the same result happens?)
Good information design
Could the library ever be this bewildering? It made me remember once again that even an activity most people take for granted (playing slots, using an OPAC), can be disorientating. Calm, clear pathways of navigation would have helped. As an information consumer, I was happy to figure it out, myself. I just needed the basic clues to get me started. Eventually, of course, I was able to self-serve:
I was able to successfully lose all the money I had fed into the machine.
Monday, September 27, 2004
From the Hot Bytes E-Newsletter (this is put out by the E-Content Institute by-weekly). They do a poll every issue and these are the results from the question in the last issue.
When seeking to purchase content services or software where do you first turn for information?
Vendor's web site - 28 %
Contact local sales - 0 %
Colleagues - 72 %
Interesting....and those of you with perfect recall will remember we wrote this in the last chapter of the E-Scan.
It is human nature to seek information and advice as close to oneself as possible. This advice may live within a circle of family and friends, a personal library, and other reliable “close” resources, such as the Google search box that is so conveniently located on many browser tool bars. “There is a lot of groundwork libraries can lay that would be invisible, and we can stand at the ready as a trust circle when further service is needed. The unanswered question is how to move our circle closer, in a person’s network, at the level of their need.”
(The end quote is from Jenny Levine whom I interviewed for the Scan)
And finally, from September 25 The Hindustan Times.com, UK edition:
"A recent survey reported in newspapers last week revealed that the young in Britain have begun to believe in horoscopes like never before. Three thousand people were polled, and two-thirds of them said that they believe horoscopes are true. Significantly, only one-third believed the Bible to be true."
Today, for example, I received my weekly briefing from Outsell, a company that consults and publishes extensively about trends in the information content industry. Two items caught my eye. First, the briefing quoted a story in The Guardian that says Google is negotiating a revenue sharing agreement with Reed-Elsevier as part of Google's plans to create a premium content service. Reed-Elsevier would allow Google to index its proprietary material, and in return would receive a small royalty each time a Google user clicked through to Reed content. You don't have to be Jerry Fletcher to see this as another example of disaggregation, and, in theory at least, a way around libraries. Miriam Nesbit of ALA's Washington Office is quoted in the 2004 Information Format Trends Report as saying, "Sooner or later you'll get to the point where you say, 'Well, I guess that 25 cents isn't too much to pay for this sentence,' and then there's no going back." (Incidentally, in the interest of full disclosure, Miriam's quote originally appeared in The New York Times on January 25, 2004.)
The other item was a description of a presentation by Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Mr. Rainie noted that young people tend to underreport their internet usage, because they don't even think of IM, e-mail, or other tasks as being manifestations of the internet. It's just part of their lives, always on, always connected. Outsell concluded their all-too-short piece on his presentation by noting, "The implication...is to focus on the user's tasks and processes, not on the medium or the container." Hmm, sounds like a report I read recently!
This isn't news really, but I am surprised more library work groups aren't using Wikis. They're a natural environment for the sort of consensus-based decision making processes that are common to library committees. And wouldn't it be a blessing to have a space to go to for committee work rather than having to wade through dozens and dozens of emails?
Although this article from InfoToday is 18 months old now, it does cover wikis and libraries, and Colleen Bell at the U of Oregon has a nice resource here. And already noted on this blog but with regard to the articles on gaming and higher ed is the September/October 2004 issue of Educause Review has articles about blogs and wikis in education generally, not libraries specifically. The lead article is by Stephen Downes who has a blog I read regularly and if you follow e-learning, you should too.
The second item this morning is a link to an interesting chart called 3000 Years of Information Science and Technology from a consulting company called Taxonomy Strategies. My colleague Eric Childress, from OCLC Research, brought it to my attention. The two principals have both been active in the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative--neither come from library backgrounds.
What I found interesting was the bibliography of material these two guys consider to be core to taxonomies did not reference any libraryland writers (at least, that I recognize). And that OCLC and RLG are on the chart with closed dates--1960-1980--hmmm, I wonder if they see that twenty year period as the pinnacle of our place in the taxonomic universe?
Thursday, September 23, 2004
I was going to note a bunch of fascinating items from Rafat Ali's great site PaidContent.org (sign up for the daily newsletter) about Audible going wireless, MLB offering 99 cent music downloads, using IM to get music, and a report of a conference "The State of Online Journalism" hosted by the Online News Association....but why don't you just hop over to PaidContent and read all this and more thought-provoking items yourself? It's one of the sites I read regularly as one of the best sources of content information from outside libraryland.
I will note that one thing in the ONA summary piqued my interest because it relates to the next item. Rafat commented: "CNET News.com is currently working on restructuring its inner story pages because they are the first point of entry for so many visits due to linking and RSS feeds. Smart...something every news site should be thinking about. "
When I do scanny presentations, I suggest the heretical: that libraries are spending too much time building elaborate portal sites and too little time making the information behind these portals easier to locate and use.
I say too much time because I suspect that just about no one in our community knows a lot about user behaviours and preferences with regard to web portals, and if we do have a gut feeling that people bypass much of the structure to get to the content, we're ignoring that in favour of indulging "ediface complexes". And, so I note the next item, an article published in this issue of FirstMonday, and listed in the September 23 issue of RLG's useful newsletter, Shelflife. Here's the RLG synposis.
THAT WEB SITE'S PRETTY, YES, BUT DOES IT WORK?
Many -- perhaps most -- museums nowadays boast full, sometimes elaborate and usually costly Web sites to augment their physical presence. But few conduct usability tests to see how effective and helpful those sites are, say library science
professors Paul F. Marty and Michael Twidale. To illustrate the importance of such testing, the two conceived their own "scenario-based evaluations" of 36 museum Web sites, then devised a framework that points out common usability flaws they hope museums will use to fashion ever-more useful Web sites and to conduct their own studies. They found, for example, that museum Web sites have large amounts of rich content. Eager to share their tremendous resources, museum professionals often offer thousands of database records and many pages with interactive features. But too much of a good thing can confuse and frustrate users, who find themselves unable to use the museums Web site to complete simple tasks. They also found that museum Web sites often have artistically designed graphical user interfaces. But beauty doesn't always go hand in hand with usability. Artistically designed interfaces may bring only confusion to the user who simply wants to know "what do I do now?"
(First Monday Sep 2004)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today jointly announced the creation of a broad initiative to spark collaboration among local public broadcasters, museums and libraries, harnessing community educational resources in new and more meaningful ways.
Read the whole press release here.
And only a few weeks ago, Bob Martin, the Director of IMLS gave a talk at an IMLS-sponsored workshop titled "Charting the Landscape/Mapping New Paths:Museums, Libraries and K-12". Read the whole thing here.
The need for collaboration among publically funded cultural institutions was something we noted while doing research for the OCLC Environmental Scan. Two of the documents that are included in our bibliography were by George D'Elia and Corinne Jorgensen on behalf of the Urban Libraries Council: Collaborations Among Public Television Stations, Public Radio Stations, Public Libraries and Museums: The Results of a National Survey and National Survey of the Markets for Museums, Public Libraries, Public Television, Public Radio and their Engagement in Informal Learning Activities.
Dr. Martin closed his talk to conference participants this way:
In the 21st century environment of rapid change, schools alone are not enough to foster the ability of our youth to learn throughout the lifetime. We need to embrace a bold new vision of learning. We need to think beyond our institutional boxes. Libraries, museums, and schools are all important elements in this web of learning. This "Charting the Landscape" conference provides an opportunity for us to consider ways in which we can further a seamless infrastructure for K-12 teaching and learning. The time to do this is now.
Seven Year Olds carrying Mobile Phones
"In 2002 only eight percent of 7-9 year-olds had cell phones, a year later this number had doubled to one in six having mobiles. In the age group 10-11 years 58 percent use mobiles, up 12 percent points in a year.
Nearly all older children have cell phones: 89 percent of 12-13 year-olds, 96 percent of 14-15 year-olds and 100 percent of 16-21 year-olds own and use mobiles. The survey measured habits at 1,500 households across the country."
This has nothing to do with phones or trends but is worth a chuckle...dog robs a gas station of its favourite chocolate candy, complete with photos from the security camera.
Monday, September 20, 2004
True enough, this doesn't have a whole lot to do with trends. But literacy and education are fundamental to a civil society and this event has a lot to do with supporting people in their quests to be educated.
Most of the OCLC UNCF walking team. George is taking the picture and his wife, Joyce, is in the front, leaning on her water bottle. Lillie, who organized the OCLC team is to Joyce's right. We're all very proud of Lillie as she was recently awarded a Phd. I'm in the middle--black cap and blue rain jacket.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
I spent the afternoon on planes today. I had packed crossword puzzles to do in-flight, but I finished both the one I had in my purse and the one in the inflight magazine and as it was turbulent I needed diversion so I leafed through the Sky Mall mag. I was bemused and a bit horrified to find that I receive about 98% of the catalogs represented. I can remember the days when this magazine was terra incognito to me...elevated dog beds? Have I caught up with the world or come down to the level of...dog beds?
I had dinner with Robert Smith, the OCLC sales rep based in NYC. (did I mention I was in Albany?) He used to work at the OCLC mothership in Dublin and I miss him, so it was very nice to spend a few hours with him. Tomorrow I'll be at SUNY Albany doing a Scan presentation.
I know lots of you who are kind enough to read this blog have also read our environmental scan, and now, may also read the 2004 content trends report. We would really truly like you to tell us about stuff we missed and to point us toward trends you think will have an impact on the LibrarianShip. And while you're at it, if you have ideas about what OCLC should be going forward, we'd love to hear about them. As you know, OCLC has been around since the early 70s. Of the Fortune 500 companies only 20 that were on the top 100 in 1971 are in the top 100 on the 2004 list...so, OCLC is doing very well!
Nice work on the new "Information Formats" pamphlet. (Is it a pamphlet when it's 18 pages long?) I can't wait to work it into my scan presentations beginning later this month.
I enjoyed your comments about magazines. I'm still one of those people who likes to read a magazine from cover to cover (pretty much). Weekly, I read Newsweek and The New Yorker thoroughly, except for the articles on religion and rap in the former, and fiction in the latter. I also read Information Week, but I have to admit that I don't read every article thoroughly. The only online weekly magazines I read are (embarrassed pause) The Warrior Librarian and The Onion. I also subscribe to and read Esquire and Smart Computing monthly, and American Heritage on the irregular schedule on which it comes out. I used to love Movieline, but it became a fashion magazine and my subscription has lapsed. On the newsstand, I'm likely to buy American Demographics, Premiere, Acoustic Guitar, The Utne Reader, Mental Floss, and the occasional graphic novel. (Art Spiegelman rules. In conjunction with Will Eisner.) I still miss Spy Magazine.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
But, do tell us what you are consuming--and how--content-wise. I think I may read as much stuff online now as I do offline. Aside from work trend tracking I read Arts & Letters Daily, Salon, The Writers Almanac and even though I subscribe to many print magzines I might spend more time with the online mags.
And the lovely thing about online reading is that serendipity is not confined to your own shelves. You have the shelves of the webby world to bump into.
Friday, September 10, 2004
Thursday, September 09, 2004
More statistics on literary, as relates to libraries:
- 75% of the Ohio inmate population does not possess a high school diploma
- 40% of individuals entering the prison system read below the 6th grade level
- Patients with a 3rd grade reading level or less have average health care costs at 6x higher than those with better skills
- 51% of hospital patients could not understand a standard informed consent document
- 42% of patients could not comprehend written directions for taking medicine
Allocating money to libraries does that.
My source. (These are specific to Columbus, Ohio--but Columbus is generally considered a bellwether for national averages.)
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
That is, ROI.
Return on Investment.
George and Alane have been sending me lots of great links to materials.
Anyone read much on this topic? Fascinating research and methodology on how to calculate a public library's economic return on money spent. (The latest I read was that for every $1 spent on the library, the community/cardholders received $4 in return. Those are pretty good statistics! Even better results ($10 to $1 for some areas) on the results page.
They sent me studies from St. Louis (Glen Holt), Florida and Kansas City.
And I'm sure there are plenty more studies out there.
Anyone? ROI demonstrations you've done/would like to see done for your library?
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
The author, Christian Mikunda, suggests that “the experience society has grown up” and that we members of this society look for a combination of “entertainment with big, true feelings, with genuine materials and high-quality design, and help with our problems in everyday life.”
As I read, it struck me this could be a description of some of the more architecturally spectacular libraries that have been built in the past few years. The main branches of Seattle Public Library (Alice blogged about it on August 10th and there's lovely pictures linked), Salt Lake City Library, Vancouver Public Library (both designed by Moshe Safdie) to name only a few. I've heard people express puzzlement about these buildings in an age when the Web has become a replacement for many, for a visit or a call to the library. Why, they ask, would these edifices be built?
Back in May, Louis Rosenfeld posted to his blog from the Seattle Public Library: "I don't pretend to know anything about architecture, and I've never worked in a public library. But I do find this building fascinating. It's an interesting mix of utilitarian and whimsical. You'll encounter great finding aids, like call numbers prominently displayed on the floor next to each row of shelves...But what strikes me most is how social a place this is. Sure, many are here to enjoy an initial tour, but there are a wide variety of group-oriented seating areas. This is clearly a place to hang out and enjoy the view."
Pacific Northwest, the magazine of The Seattle Times, said in an article by William Dietrich in its April 25, 2004 issue: "Above all, the library is designed to be inviting and intuitive to people who want to find a book. Designers calculated that the downtown Barnes & Noble bookstore had 40 times the people traffic, per square foot, as the old library. Why? What was the public sector doing wrong that the private sector is doing right? They want to compete."
So, back to Mikunda and his notion of an experience society. He begins his introduction with a description of what a visitor to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice might do: have a look at the paintings and sculpture, go to the museum store, and have a coffee in the museum restaurant, all the time enjoying the particular ambiance of the location, above the Grande Canal. He describes the experience as being one of a place where one temporarily feels at home, that is emotionally powerful and allows visitors to recharge themselves. The museum is, he declares, a Third Place, one of three "staged habitats" (the others are Home and Work). Malls, theme restaurants, concept stores are all staged habitats too.
So, I am thinking that this trend of building and redesigning libraries to be impressive architecturally is a response to the need people have to spend their leisure time in staged habitats and be entertained at the same time they accomplish something--whether it's browsing books in a library or a bookstore, or visiting the Longaberger basket company which, in addition to having a head office that looks like a giant basket, also has a golf course, several restaurants and entertainers at its Homestead. All this to encourage the purchase of baskets.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that the architect Rem Koolhaas designed the Seattle Public Library and the Prada flagship store in New York city—which, by the way, is in the former SoHo branch of the Guggenheim Museum
Creative Reading is a 70 page report by John Holden in conjunction with The Reading Agency which is a "UK wide development agency with roots in the public library sector. Its mission is to inspire a reading nation by working with libraries and their partners."
Here's a bit of the press release.
Public libraries are the ‘forgotten players’ in the creativity debate,
according to a new report called Creative Reading published by Demos. Libraries can help the next generation develop the higher-order skills of creative reading needed to get the most out of cultural and social life and meet the challenges of the 21st century job market.
“Given the number and variety of creative activities going on in libraries, they should be seen as one of the primary means by which the government can fulfil the cultural pledge given in the white paper The next Ten Years, Culture and Creativity,” says the report’s author, John Holden.
The report recommends that libraries build on their role in developing ‘creative reading, encouraging young people to make connections between different ideas and information sources. They should create spaces where the flow of ideas stimulated by reading can be recorded using whiteboards or computers.
Demos reports are available under a Creative Commons license.
Friday, September 03, 2004
"New Tools for Back-to-School:Blogs, Swarms, Wikis, and Games"
"Redesigning Games: How Academia is Reshaping Games of the Future."
"Gaming the System: What Higher Education Can Learn From Multiplayer Online Worlds."
"What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy" Click on book icon and then on the left bar, Learning by Design: Games as Learning Machines.
"The New Culture of Gaming"
"Second Generation e-Learning: Serious Games." This is a special issue of On The Horizon (vol 12, no. 1, 2004) and is available to subscribers at www.emeraldinsight.com/oth.htm or for FirstSearch subscribers, in the ECO database.
In the "Introduction to the Study of the Future" classes I took at the World Futures Society conference, the Life Cycle of an Issue was presented as one way to gauge the maturity of a trend. Here's some of the elements--think of the axes of the life cycle as time and degree of public awareness. In other words, the newer the trend, the less the amount of public awareness. Based on the list, I'd say gaming is moving to the mass awareness level.
Visionary (artists, scientists, radicals, lunatics)Uninhibited (fringe media, underground)Diffusion (specialists' journals, web sites)Mass awareness (general interest magazines, websites)History (doctoral dissertations)
Thursday, September 02, 2004
A quick stage-setting: George is busy moving office, Alane is on a whirlwind wrap-up of a new report (stay tuned--our catchy headline is: The Content has left the Container--sounds like NASA should be telling it to Houston or something) and I am knee-deep in thinking about advertising on behalf of libraries, to the people who make funding decisions.
In short, we are all busy, tired, not-quite-ready to let go of summer. When we convened our meeting, all three of us felt a little brain-dead, scattered, low energy, blah--whatever you want to call it.
As we started to talk about possibilities, a curious phenomenon began. The more we talked, the more energy we gained. Silliness is a great restorative. By the end of the meeting, we were rockin' and rollin' and ready for more. It was a fantastic way to rejuvenate, refocus and renew our commitment to future OCLC adventuring. And it happened almost accidentally.
So the moral of the story is, when you're feeling overwhelmed, leave your keyboard for a minute and talk things through with a co-worker. Start with a joke, perhaps. But get the ideas flowing and soon you'll be ready to tackle the world again!
Anyway, I stumbled across a pretty interesting free newsletter recently called "Trendwatching.com." The current issue focuses on a trend it refers to as "Inspirience," which the authors define as the desire to replicate within the internal space some of the best features of the public space. So people have brand name products generally associated with retailers of one stripe or another in their homes: Starbucks cappucino makers, Westin hotels' Heavenly Beds (which as a frequent traveler I can aver are indeed heavenly), or draft Heineken beer in the entertainment center.
Here's an excerpt from the current newsletter:
So here's what TRENDWATCHING.COM suspects to be the next big thing in the world of domestic bliss: INSPERIENCES. Basically, in a consumer society and outside world dominated by experiences, preferably branded, designed, themed and curated to the nines, the INSPERIENCES trend represents consumers' desire to invite brands offering experiences exclusive to the (semi) public domain, to set up shop within their own domestic domain. Needless to say, before they're allowed to pass through the front door, some of these experiences need to be stripped from the dangers, annoyances, and unwanted interactions with strangers that normally come attached.
So what's driving the home-upgrading and INSPERIENCE trends? Well, try one or more of the below:
• Rampant individuality -- we are all Masters of the Youniverse these days, our homes turning into highly connected, sophisticated control and entertainment centers.
• Post 9/11 insecurity -- 'let's stay in and invite some friends' says it all.
• Unheard-of levels of prosperity for hundreds of millions of MASS CLASS members from Sao Paulo to Singapore to San Francisco, and ever-higher demands for comfort and quality from 'mature' and experienced consumers. (Americans alone spend more than 125 billion USD annually on remodeling their homes!)
Those references to Sao Paulo and Singapore incidentally are not gratuitous attempts at globalization. According to their home page, Trendwatching.com is the result of reports from more than 2,000 trend spotters from more than 50 nations and regions. I can almost hear the reaction now: "We're libraries, why should we care about what's going on in the consumer marketplace?" All I can say is to that is since those same consumers also consume library services, it behooves us to know as much as we can about them, right? Looking at the world through the prism of a different but related industry like retailing can help us gain new perspective.