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Page 16 • Cognotes 2012 Midwinter Meeting HIGHLIGHTS–Dallas

Top Technology Trends Impacting Libraries Today

By Brad Martin
LAC Group

The LITA Top Technology Trends panel explored issues that included on-demand "retro converting" of digital files, the ultimate demise of the integrated library systems (ILS), the importance of web analytics, the benefits of new digital tools for instruction, and looming "platform wars" in the digital content arena of competing devices and content.

Stephen Abram from Cengage Learning (Gale) presented his first trend that he called simply "frictionless." Abram told how a Chicago cab driver's accepting payment on his iPhone) in Chicago prompted a realization about how technology is resulting in increasingly seamless transactions – anything from financial transactions to people directly downloading digital music and books. This trend, according to Abrams, demands that libraries consider how this is impacting their service models. Abram also said that on-demand services such as retro converting digital files to physical copies is something that needs to be considered for various reasons, including helping to bridge the digital divide.

Nina McHale, Arapahoe Library District in Colorado, noted a continuing need for more staff and an increasing trend at her library and elsewhere to hire more programmers for library staffs and some of the challenges it is presenting. One challenge, according to McHale, is that "we have never paid ourselves enough and we need to up the ante to get pool of good applicants." McHale added that she does know the situation is improving, but it needs to continue. She also went into detail about how increasing digital content i n libraries has increased the need for good web analytics, a concern that was also explored by other panel members and reflected in a question from one audience member.

Sue Polanka, Wright State University, told of a trend she has noticed concerning more self-service, and that this might actually provide some relief for library staffs that are stretched thin. Polanka also noted how this could free up some staff with the training to do more programming. An interesting example was anebook vending machine that is being used in Japan. She also described some recent advances in technology that will improve instruction – like touch screen white boards that turn walls into "smart boards," making it easier to work anywhere.

Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC, talked about how users are dependent upon using a variety of devices and the resulting emergence of large platforms or ecosystems such as Apple and Google entry in television and competing devices for ebooks such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad.

Dempsey sees impending "platform wars" as these companies vie for market share. Another trend he presented was that "increasingly, discovery happens elsewhere" and described what he calls "personal institution creation services" or PICS - and examples include the citation management tool Zotero and Mendeley and social reading sites like Library Thing. "One major issue is that if users are spending a lot of time in these environments, how do you link them back into the library?" Dempsey asked.

Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt University Libraries, spoke of the "impending demise of the integrated library system (ILS). What he sees as taking its place is a set that he calls "library services platforms." Breeding said he often thinks in terms of longer term cycles of 10 years, which i s how long he thinks it will take for this next evolution. The ILS was created in an era of books and other physical materials and is "not so integrated anymore." He noted an opportunity to reintegrate discovery and automation through the use of a "new genre of automation systems."

Midwinter attendees break up into roundtable discussion groups for participant-driven debate about specific issues at the Friday, January 20 "Unconference" event.

Participant-driven "Unconference" Addresses Myriad of Library-Related Topics

By Frederick J. Augustyn, Jr.
The Library of Congress

Friday, January 20 featured a three-hour interactive sharing of concerns and interests of librarians whereby attendees selectedone of several topics to deliberate collectively for an hour before moving on to another table and subject. With no formal presentations or assignments, this exercise built on the success of unconferences held at the beginning of several previous Mid-winter and Annual meetings and several participants had returned to relive the experience. Attempting to solve problems rather than just pose them, the goal was to "walk out with something actionable."

Among the topics suggested were: the current job market for librarians; the emphasis by administrators to do more with less; web services for the 21st century; web publishing using OMEKA; the place of the Ph.D. in information science; limited open data; electronic serial adventures; the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)/ Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA); using discovery systems wisely; and effective mobile services.

Examples of the discussion concerning the subject of doing more with less during times of economic constraint included multi-tasking flexibility vs. the efficiency of performing one set of tasks and how the stimulation of different duties compared to expertise acquired through repetition, although the latter was sometimes accompanied by mental fatigue.

Members recognized the preference for several years within librarianship for generalists, albeit generalists who also had particular subject specialties. Medical libraries in particular need trained personnel who

» see page 17

Build Community Connections Through Civic Reflection at Annual Conference

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office will present a preconference titled, Civic Reflection Builds Community Connections: A Program Model for Libraries, during the American Library Association's (ALA) 2012 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Anaheim, Calif, from June 21–26, 2012. The day-and-a-half long preconference will be held, Thursday, June 21, 2012 from 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. and Friday, June 22, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This preconference is targeted at library directors, department heads and senior staff from public, academic and special libraries.

During the Civic Reflection Builds Community Connections: A Program Model for Libraries preconference, participants will be trained on dialogue facilitation with proven success in strengthening partnerships, building effective teams across departments and organizations, and raising the profile of the library as a center for community life. Participants will leave the preconference with valuable facilitation skills that can immediately be applied to enhance their library and community. For more information, including conference registration and hotel information, visit

Visit for an online resource center for your programming needs. For more information on the ALA Public Programs Office, visit