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How Emerging Trends and Technologies Will Affect the Library. John Burke ALAO SSIG Spring Workshop May 8-9, 2003. Coping and keeping up. Where’s the wind blowing? What’s new? How do I prepare? Will I be working in a library in 10 years? 5? Contrasting examples; stories that teach

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How emerging trends and technologies will affect the library l.jpg

How Emerging Trends and Technologies Will Affect the Library

John Burke

ALAO SSIG Spring Workshop

May 8-9, 2003


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Coping and keeping up

  • Where’s the wind blowing?

  • What’s new? How do I prepare? Will I be working in a library in 10 years? 5?

  • Contrasting examples; stories that teach

  • A list of lessons learned and steps to follow


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Library technology truths

  • Dual technology needs: streamline our workflow and serve the public

  • Add popular technologies both by demand and proactively

  • We create our own systems on occasion

  • Budget pressures often slow changes

  • New items both replace and complement

  • Both products and processes

  • Computers are a key technology today, but not the only crucial one


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Truth #1:Not all technology works as expected


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Failure – the Rudolph Indexer

  • View 175 catalog cards at once

  • 12,000+ cards in single indexer

  • Too expensive; never caught on


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Success – Shared cataloging

  • MARC records

  • OCLC

  • Cooperation continues


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Technologies on the rise

  • Handhelds – Palm Pilots, Pocket PCs, Cell phones, Tablet PCs

  • Wireless networking

  • Open source software

  • MP3s

  • DVDs

  • E-books

  • Full-text reference books and periodicals


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What can we learn?

  • Three possibilities for each new technology:

    • Essential technologies that last (DDC, OPAC, etc.)

    • “Flashes in the pan” that never materialize (Rudolph Indexer, bubble memory, etc.)

    • Transitional technologies that have shorter lifespans (8-track tapes, records, etc.)

  • We hope to choose 1 early, accept 3 before it’s too late, and avoid 2 altogether


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Truth #2: It’s hard to know what patrons will want or need


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Trends in society

  • 66% of Americans use computers at home or work (over 54% use the Internet)

  • Reading habits: more “scanning”

  • 90% of children and teens use computers

  • 50% of homes have DVD players

  • 42% of U.S. adults are not Internet users (Pew Internet Study)


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“Thumb tribe”

  • Technology  Society  Biology (?)

  • oyayubizoku – Japanese (or “clan of the thumb”)


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How do we adjust to the trends?

  • Mixed bag

  • Stress customer service

  • Patrons want self-suffiency

  • Patrons need guides and helpers

  • We need to be flexible – alter workflow, policies


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Truth #3: Libraries face many concerns and choices


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Trends in libraries

  • Nearly universal Internet access in public libraries

  • Graying of profession (63% of librarians are > 45)

  • Less spending on books, but higher circulation

  • Budget cutbacks

  • More and bigger electronic resources to buy

  • Audiovisual spending is growing

  • 24/7/365 access and assistance

  • Buildings – need flexible, tech-friendly spaces

  • Digital reference – chat, email

  • Focus on adaptive devices and web design


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Major issues to solve

  • Copyright

  • Confidentiality – USA Patriot Act, etc.

  • Access – “digital divide”

  • Library budgets

  • Archiving of digital resources (& long-term access)

  • One-stop access to resources – easy interfaces

  • More fee, less free resources

  • Spam, cyberterrorism, and the regulated Internet

  • Marketing the library, finding niches

  • Cooperation among libraries


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Where to turn?

  • It’s always been this way to some degree

  • Libraries must have a voice in solutions

  • Stay in communication

  • Stay a little behind, but still see who’s up front

  • Be informed (Technology Awareness Resources handout at www.users.muohio.edu/burkejj/)


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Truth #4: Not every library needs the same technologies


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A tale of two libraries

  • Cerritos Library, Cerritos, CA (cml.ci.cerritos.ca.us/static.htm)

  • Oscar Johnson Memorial Library, Silverhill, AL (www.gulftel.com/bclc/bclibraries/silverhill.html)






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What does our library need?

  • Know thy community

  • Consider the budget

  • Don’t fear change

  • Remember Truth #1

  • Take a few leaps of faith


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Truth #5: All visions are imperfect, but we need them


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Visions of the Future:Yesterday

  • Charles Ammi Cutter (1883)

  • The Buffalo Public Library in 1983

  • Guessed wrong:

    • Sprawling, many floored library

    • An army of uniformed pages

    • Scrupulously clean and dust free

    • Multiple “reading rooms”

  • Guessed right:

    • Fax machines, interlibrary loan, photocopying

    • Mass electric power

  • Based his thoughts on what he could see


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Visions of the future:Today

  • Raymond Kurzweil (2000)

  • The “Terminator” future

    • 2009 – wearable computers

    • 2019 – books are rarely used

    • 2029 – implants connect us to the Internet

  • Libraries fade away

  • Unabated development of technology

  • We’ll have to wait and see


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Vision #1: “It’s Alive!”

  • Primary access to information is electronic

  • Most users access materials remotely

  • Private companies offer content and access equal to and beyond that of libraries – competition and outsourcing

  • Our interaction with the Internet and networked information sources becomes a single interface, perhaps voice responsive

  • Library cannot compete as a public space – home becomes central


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Vision #2: Ozymandias

  • Things fall apart: current tech cannot be sustained

  • Bleeding edge stops bleeding

  • Archival issues end e-resource use

  • Declining funds push libraries to print only

  • Terrorism makes networks unworkable

  • Libraries survive as they always have, and grow as centers of information and learning

  • A step back, or a step ahead?


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Vision #3: Today & tomorrow

  • Public, academic, school, & special libraries

  • Near-universal Internet access (thanks to us)

  • Many electronic resources

  • Declining periodical collections

  • Growth of e-books and other publications on handheld devices

  • Remote access to resources is available, and growing in use

  • Library is still a vital spot for the community


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The future for support staff

  • Jobs increasing (66% of library workers now)

  • Workload shift continues (more formerly MLS-only duties)

  • Entry requirements increasing (in places)

  • “Graying” & retention issues

  • Opportunities to seek MLS (if desired)

  • Pay may rise, but slowly


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Lessons Learned

  • Not all technology works as expected

  • It’s hard to know what patrons will want or need

  • Libraries face many concerns and choices

  • Not every library needs the same technologies

  • All visions are imperfect, but we need them

  • Consider the essentials of our work as you innovate


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Five New Laws of Library Science

  • Libraries serve humanity.

  • Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated.

  • Use technology intelligently to enhance service.

  • Protect free access to knowledge.

  • Honor the past and create the future.

  • Revised: Walt Crawford and Michael Gorman


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Further reading

  • Gorman, Michael. Our Enduring Values. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

  • Wisconsin Library Services. New Tech News. (www.wils.wisc.edu/pubs/ntn/)

  • Burke, John. Neal-Schuman Library Technology Primer. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2000.


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Questions or Comments?

John J. Burke, MSLS

Assistant Library Director

Gardner-Harvey Library

Miami University Middletown

(513) 727-3293

[email protected]

http://www.users.muohio.edu/burkejj/


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