Friday, November 03, 2006

WLA 2006: Sensible Technology Trends in Libraries

Friday, 9-10:15am

This was a presentation by Jessamyn West, author of, co-editor of Revolting Librarians Redux, an ALA councilor, a rural librarian, and library activist.

You can see all the links from Jessamyn's talk at

"Vermont is all rural all the time"

Library 2.0 means...
  • the library is no longer the box where the books are
  • it's a read/write environment
Ranganathan would have like the concept of the read/write web, especially regarding...
  • Save the time of the reader
  • A library is a growing organism.
The easiest freest thing you can do to increase your library presence:
  • Offer an easy way for the public to ask you a question
    - consider creating generic email addresses for trustees@ and genealogy@ that get directed to whoever is in charge
Instant messaging:
  • Consider offering IM so the public can reach you quickly & easily; be where your patrons are
  • IM is also great for in-house communication with your colleagues
  • "remember, we also debated telephone reference"
"Let computers do the heavy lifting."

Wikis aren't for everything, blogs aren't for everything.
Use the appropriate technology for what you want to offer to your patrons.

Blogs & wikis & RSS
  • There are very easy tools to blog (like -- don't settle for using the old-school "" URL if you already have a domain name for your library; you can publish your Blogger blog to your web site host
Social software:
  • your patrons are already using it and might like help from you about using it
  • understand why people might like it
  • understand how your library might use it
  • it's leaping the "flavor of the month" stage
Open source software...
  • is free
  • is redistributable
  • has an open code base
  • is the great unknown
  • can have erratic documentation
  • be aware of the geek culture vs. librarian culture
Mashups and open APIs
  • It's one easy way to attract people to your library
  • In some communities the library offers the only wifi in the area; your library may be the only wifi hotspot in town; this is especially in communties there's no broadband Internet access in the town
The good news and the bad news:
  • No amount of money will make a tech-phobic staff love technology.
  • No amount of dissuasion will keep a technophile away from technology.
  • Knowing who you're working with and [the full range of] what your options are is more valuable than any amount of money thrown at your technology problem.

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