Robots: Our New Helpers or Our New Overlords?

Do you feel surrounded by automation and robots?  Both are booming, and as our right side-view mirror often says: “objects are closer than they appear!”  What’s a library to do? Please join me for a brand new talk on the subject on November 16!

While there’s nothing new about automation systems in libraries,  recent developments in robotics (including autonomous vehicles, drones, and AI chatbots) is turning the whole notion on its head. How are these trends impacting our society now, and how might they begin affecting libraries? This session with Library Technology Consultant Carson Block takes a fun and thought-provoking look at the potential and pitfalls of robots and other automation in delivering public services.

Participants will:

• Learn how automation & robots are impacting life and work

• Learn how automation & robots are used – and may be used – in libraries

• Explore strategic perspectives on automation & robots

This presentation is sponsored by LibraryWorks and offered for a fee.


Talking Tech Trends and Privacy at DPLA Fest

What does the future hold for technology in libraries?  I had the honor of joining two smart, passionate people-you-should-know at Digital Public Library of America‘s DPLAfest at the Library of Congress in Washington DC during the spring of 2016 to discuss the possibilities.

DPLA’s page on the session, including a transcript, is here.

Speaker Biography: Alison Macrina is a librarian, privacy activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms.

Speaker Biography: John Resig is a staff engineer at khan academy and the creator of the jQuery JavaScript library. He is the author of the books “Pro JavaScript Techniques” and “Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja.” He has developed a comprehensive Japanese woodblock print database and image search engine: Resig is a board member of the Japanese Art Society of America and is a visiting researcher at Ritsumeikan University working on the study of Ukiyo-e.

Thanks to Jamie Hollier, DPLA Board Member and President of Anneal, Inc. for organizing this excellent panel.





Have you LITA’d lately?

Is LITA (Library Information Technology Association) on your radar?  If you want to know (and use) cutting edge technology in libraries, you should make LITA and its brilliant brain trust your next deep dive into what makes libraries great.

The LITA forum – this year in Minneapolis – just wrapped up and I was blown away by what I learned while there.  A mea culpa – for reasons unknown (yet mightily embarrassing) I let LITA fall off my radar.  I’m changing that today.

While it’s true that LITA membership is predominately from academic institutions, there are public libraries in the mix.  I think this ratio of ALs : PLs is a great thing.  With new student populations to serve frequently, academic libraries are perhaps the most underutilized resource for ideas and inspiration for public libraries.  If you’re on the PL side and want to track generational sea changes, look at what’s happening in academic libraries.  As well, many institutions have access to technology and programming talent that public libraries most often can only dream of. This dynamic makes the LITA membership mix a compelling environment.

Just a couple of highlights from the 2016 conference that even non-technology librarians can appreciate:

  • Sessions about patron privacy & privacy literacy in the digital world
  • Application of gaming to create a better experience for library users
  • Developments in Linked Data to help us discover and use our electronic resources much more powerfully
  • Providing ebooks without vendors
  • A custom app designed to help make meeting room acoustics more pleasant
  • Supporting STEM through training & design
  • Girls in tech
  • Effective project management techniques
  • New and better ways to collaborate & share computer code
  • …and many more!

There’s lots more.  Check the LITA Forum site to see the full schedule.  The twitter feed – archived here – is well worth a look.  Hit the tweets and I promise it won’t be the last click you make in pursuit of fresh ideas and approaches to library services.

As well, I was honored to give the closing keynote and used the opportunity to challenge this brilliant group to dig even even deeper and deliberately design the impact they want to make by not just connecting with our current communities but stepping outside our hangouts, mixing it up, and coming back. The reaction afterwards and on social media was exhilarating and enlightening – lots of positives and some thoughtful negatives.  In retrospect, I realized this is the first time I’ve given a talk to my own community where the emphasis was on challenge instead of comfort, and all of the feedback helped me realize when I properly landed the message I wanted to deliver, and when I missed.  LITA – thanks for the openness.  I ended the talk inviting the group to participate in a six-month experiment to see how we can keep the conference glow burning after the reality of our work lives kick in.   I’ll share the results of that experiment in six months.

If you don’t know LITA or you haven’t checked in lately – this is a great time to do it.  Solutions to our big problems are currently being incubated though the work of LITA members and I can wait to dig more deeply myself.

RIPL – “Ripple”

Are libraries doing enough with data?  I don’t think so — and I’m on mission to learn how we can make better use of data — in ways that are safe, confidential and trustworthy — to serve patrons more powerfully, to be smarter about how we operate our libraries, and to allow staff to focus on human interactions, growth and enrichment instead of rote tasks.ripl_logo

As part of my quest I’m thrilled to participate (as a panelist and facilitator) in the inaugural gathering of the Research Institute for Public Libraries (or RIPL — pronounced “Ripple” — for short) conference in late July in Colorado Springs.

What is RIPL?  From the RIPL Website:

75-100 participants will engage in three days of hands-on, intensive workshops about…

  •  Evaluation design and implementation
  •  Data collection and use for strategic planning
  •  Measures for reporting library impact
  •  Tips for aligning research efforts with national initiatives like Edge Benchmarks and the Impact Survey

Participants will walk away from RIPL with tools for evaluation, confidence in building research into their activities, and a network of colleagues for future learning and success.

ALA Annual 2015

ALA 2015 conference logo


It’s time again for the annual gathering of library people in the US — this time in San Francisco, CA.

I’m a presenter for two sessions at ALA – if it fits your schedule, please swing by!

Top Technology Trends  This program features our ongoing roundtable discussion about trends and advances in library technology by a panel of LITA technology experts. The panelists will describe changes and advances in technology that they see having an impact on the library world, and suggest what libraries might do to take advantage of these trends. More information on Top Tech Trends:

Lib*Interactive@SXSW – growing and thriving  2015 was the best year ever for library activity at the annual South by Southwest EDU, Interactive, Film, and (yes) even music conferences. SXSW needs librarians — and to stay current with trends, technology and marketing libraries need SXSW. Interested? Come to this informative and (ahem) interactive session to get the skinny and get involved! There’s a place for everyone — from the leading/bleeding edge to the laid back and supportive!

Will you be at ALA too?  If so I would love to see you!  I know everyone’s dance cards are full for the conference — so please feel free to get in touch to set up an appointment!

Libraries are back at SXSWi!

Libraries will have a strong presence again this year at the South by SouthWest Interactive (SXSWi) conference – I will be joining Andrea Davis to host a “Core Conversation” entitled “Libraries: The Ultimate Playground.”

We have a nice preview write-up on the Razorfish blog.

And check out the lineup at a brand-new library thing called the #ideadrophouse.

Yowsa — libraries loud & proud at SXSW!


Lucky 13

2013, that is!

As we embrace the new I’m thankful for so much — and especially all of the excellent people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.  The projects have been stimulating and satisfying — from facilities master planning, technology planning, tech assessments, coaching, keynote speeches at conferences, teaching, and other activities.  But the real joy has been working with so many outstanding people, all across the country.

As libraries face some of the greatest challenges in their histories, they are also in some very good hands.

Experienced librarians are using their wisdom and knowledge to navigate through the murky waters of eMaterials and remind us that although formats change, the core mission of the public library — connecting people to information, ideas and enrichment as a public-funded good — endures.

New generations of librarians are entering the profession with a native understanding of digital formats, multiple modes of communication and the power of customer service.  These librarians are asking all of the right questions — and with the  spirit and energy to “make it happen” or #mih.

The combination of these elements makes me feel very lucky indeed.

Here’s to you, and to all the best in 2013!

TEDx video is up!

It was such an excellent time presenting at TEDx FoCo in September – I had the opportunity to speak to a non-library audience about some of the challenges libraries are facing today.  It’s a TED-style version of the talk I did at SXSWi (called “The Great Library Swindle:  Your Rights Are at Risk”) earlier this year, and a little more relaxed than the Ignite talk I did on the same subject.

The day was full of excellent presentations – go to the TEDx FoCo site to see them all!

Three talks, three cities, three days

I just wrapped up a mini-tour — speaking in three cities in Colorado in three days.  Yowsa!

It was great to spend time with the Marmot User’s Group annual meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado on 9/20 — what a great group!  I gave the Thursday keynote – “The Great Library Swindle: Your Rights Are At Risk”

The CoPLA  eMedia Smackdown (simultaneous live event at five locations in Colorado, hooked together by technology but with a focus on the in-person event via excellent facilitators) on 9/21 was off the hook!  I was live in Durango, Colorado (as speaker/facitator/host/tech :0), and the level of engagement from the participants was outstanding!  We are planning to make all of the content from the day available soon, but in the meantime  you can see my kick-off for the day here, followed by a presentation from the leader of the Colorado Independent Publisher’s Association:

Finally, on 9/22 I was honored to be among some most excellent speakers at TEDx FoCo in Fort Collins, Colorado – presenting the “Swindle” talk to advocate for libraries.  Video from all of the TEDx FoCo talks should be available by November!



eMedia Smackdown!

This year I’m president of the Colorado Public Library Association (CoPLA),  and we have an event called the eMedia Smackdown designed to bring members together in Colorado like never before to discuss one of the hottest topics in libraryland – eBooks and other eMedia!

The opportunities and challenges of digital materials continue to loom large over libraries.  While we’ve been mostly reactive to changes, the time has come to “smackdown” eMedia (eBooks, eReaders, video and audio) and become proactive in molding the future of library content to benefit patrons everywhere.

This event is designed to spur dialog among participants to create understanding of the issues and identify strategies they can can use in their own libraries.

Five speakers will frame the most compelling eContent topics today, and excellent facilitators will help guide the discussion in five locations throughout Colorado for a compelling, fun-filled day!

More about the event.