Computers in Libraries: Day 1

Here we are!  D.C.!

Good evening!   Crystal and I managed to make it from Atlanta to Washington DC without much trouble… although it took so long at baggage claim I had visions of doing our presentation in the ratty clothes I traveled in!

We attended the games, gadgets and makerspaces on Sunday night. Crystal’s favorite takeaway: Www.SoundEgg.com I think students / patrons would find these very cool. Surround sound/filters out sound from outside the egg. Good for viewing videos, scype calls, phone interviews, recording multimedia. Pricey, but can pay postage both ways and try free for 90 days.

Monday morning the convention started.   The official hashtag is #cildc,  by the way,  if you want to follow along.   The Monday keynote speaker was Dave Weinberger.   The title of his talk was Hack Libraries: Platforms? Playgrounds? Prototypes?  The gist was that information is becoming more open and that that fact makes discussions and creativity blossom in many unexpected directions.   Libraries are mostly shut off from these conversations,  and without finding ways to be a part of them will be bypassed and irrelevant.

 Weinberger’ next major point involved the Swiss Army knife.   He showed a picture of one that is about a foot long,  weighs seven pounds,  and is loaded with such charming features as a fish cleaning tool and a laser sighting tool for a gun.   It will set you back a mere $1200 on Amazon,  at which point you will have a paperweight,  as it is so cluttered it is impossible to use.   So he asked,  now that linked data is finally becoming a reality,  what data do we want to link?   He suggested a new type of filtering,  that we filter forward by anticipating user’s needs.

He works with Harvard’s library and mentioned some of the things they are doing.   One that was heavily tweeted was the Awesome return box –  if the user thinks one book is really good,  they return it to the Awesome box.   They haven’t hooked those statistics up to the library catalog yet,  but are keeping track.   Also at Harvard is Stack View,  an open source software program I discussed in a post earlier this year.   Besides giving an idea of the book’s physical size and popularity,  it also connects to the Wikipedia page for the book (if any) and any available NPR story on it.

Now we can start building apps that utilize linked data,  and data is going to get much smarter much faster.  Librarians have more information than anyone on the planet,  so we can make connections using our expertise and draw in users to share their own expertise.   We can guide people to new sources,  both those that agree with them and those that challenge them.

Mary says: I went to a couple of other interesting sessions today.  The first was Enabling Innovation,  by Jill Hurst Wahl from Syracuse University.   She discussed brainstorming,  both rules and tools.   Her slides are available on the CIL site,  so I won’t go into too many of the rules… though one of the most important ones is to have only one speaker at a time.   She also talked about four kinds of brainstorming (1) Role Storming,  wherein the group approaches the topic as if they were a historical or fictional character –  Darth Vader,  for example.  (2)  Long List – the idea here is quantity,  trying to get 100 ideas in 15 minutes,  because the first ideas tend to be the least original and get better the longer the list gets.   (3)  Opposites – take the viewpoint opposite the expected one; and (4) Brand Storming – similar to Role Storming but from the viewpoint of a brand,  such as Apple or Disney rather than the viewpoint of a character.   Each table in the room then chose one of these four,  spent 15 minutes with a topic and used one of the four methods.   My table chose Role Storming and so brainstormed the kind of library Lady Gaga would design,  such ideas as special collections including video and images,  for fashion,  costuming,  and makeup,  a consortium with the Muppet Library,  a design full of unexpected features,  maybe something like a room filled with different textures to experience.   Then various tables reported out.   The whole program was a lot of fun and I plan to bring these ideas to my place of work.

The next panel I attended was Designing for Collaboration in Digital Information Environments, which was fascinating.   A high school librarian and English teacher,  working with a Rutgers University communications professor,  took an honors 9th grade English class and had them work in groups.   They collaborated using Google Drive,  and had to comment on each other’s work in threads.   Another assignment would be to write briefly but daily about their experience of the process of doing research – for example,  what they found difficult that day.   They got almost immediate feedback from the librarian and teacher,  who were treated as equals in the course.

Crystal says:

Super Searcher Tips by Mary Ellen Bates. Mary Ellen Bates always rocks any session I am lucky enough to see! I like to think I’m a pretty good searcher, but Mary Ellen always proves how much I have yet to learn. I couldn’t begin to share all I learned, but here are a few favorites: 1. Interested in searching social media for topics?      Try social-searcher.com.  It can adjust results by how often a link has been retweeted or how popular the search topic is via Facebook likes,etc.      An alternative is socialmention.net.

2. Looking to keep your search unaffected by “smart” browsers who pre-filter your results based on prior searching?     Try motherpipe.com

Crystal’s favorite quote today:    From Rock Your Library’s Content with WordPress.  Chad Haefele advised that WordPress.org is “free like puppies, not free like beer!  You still have a responsibility to take care of it after you get it.”

 Th-th-that’s it folks,  for today.   Stay tuned for more excitement!

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