Posts in academic libraries

My #ALA12 Conference Report

My #ALA12 Conference Report

(Or how I discovered LITA, said goodbye to ACRL, and rediscovered a joy and engagement with library professional involvement)

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(tl;dr version: LITA has some kick-ass interest groups.)

This year at the American Library Association’s annual meeting in Anaheim #ala12, I decided to change-up my standard method for dealing with the conference and was greatly pleased with the results. I found engaging new content and interesting projects that are worth the effort of engagement. Read on:

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King James, Gutenberg, and Information Abundance

Libraries are solutions to the problem of information scarcity

Libraries, broadly speaking, are solutions to the problem of information scarcity. Given a world in which information is rare, difficult to acquire, and expensive; collecting information into a central location where it can be shared with a population of users is a very good idea. People who on their own could not afford to purchase all of the books they want to read can pool their money and build institutions that collect, house, and share books. Libraries are genius solutions to the problems posed by information scarcity.

More and more often, however, I’m left wondering what happens when information scarcity is no longer the overriding information issue? It is still a big issue, mind you, and for the present, libraries are still appropriate solution to information scarcity. However, digital information products, the Internet, WordPress and other free self-publication platforms, and Wikipedia have changed this. Or at least have changed this for people w/ computers, smartphones, tablets and ubiquitous broadband connections. As one of my favorite librarians has pointed out: the IMDB app on a smartphone has changed bar-bets about movie casts forever. Wikipedia on a smartphone changes ready-reference for ever. We’re still figuring out the full extent of the disruption, but for many of our patrons this means that they no longer need libraries to discover that Lima is the capitol of Peru or that Val Kilmer starred in Real Genius.

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The user becomes the collection

(This is a previously unpublished post  from my WordPress drafts folder. I’ve cleaned it up and finished some thoughts, but mostly it stands as written in November 2010)

The user becomes the collection

At this Fall’s ACRL Northwest conference, I had the good fortune to participate in a panel discussing the future of libraries. We were asked what we thought the theme of the conference would be five years in the future. In the month or so since the panel took place, I can’t seem to stop mulling over the answer that I gave. I said something along the lines of “The user becomes the collection”, meaning that libraries, instead of providing access to static content will instead provide access for our users to connect with networks of like minds. I predict this trend will continue to the point where libraries become more about curating networks and connections between thinkers and creators of information and less about the static content we store in our collections.
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Imaginary Libraries

I was asked recently to write a response piece to an article written by one of my CMDC colleagues John Barber. John is a Richard Brautigan scholar and has recently proposed creating a digital archive in the spirit of the library described in Brautigan’s The Abortion: an historical romance. My response focused on three questions. What was the essential nature of Brautigan’s library? Is this a sound model for a contemporary digital archive? Is John’s proposed archive both in keeping with Brautigan’s model and a practical solution for today’s archival needs? Our pieces will be published in a upcoming issue of Hyperrhiz.
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It’s not about the book

If you want to have game rooms and pingpong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don’t pretend it has anything to do with libraries” – Michael Gorman

The L.A. Times recently published a story about the future of libraries. It contained the sorts of things you would expect to find. A comment about the relevance of libraries in the age of Google? Check. Discussion about the relevance of libraries after information goes digital? Check. Michael Gorman antagonizing his fellow librarians by using his status as a former president of the American Library Association to advance a narrow and anachronistic definition of what a library is? Check. So what is new here? Is it really worth re-hashing the Blog People incident all over again? At first, I had a hard time finding the energy to care. Library bloggers at 8-Bit Library and Agnostic, Maybe offered up spirited defenses of the place of games in library collections, does more really need to be said? This is a blog, so of course something more is going to be said, whether it needs to or no.
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