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.





LITA Top Tech Trends gets some press!

So thrilled to have such great conversations at the ALA Top Tech Trends panel at ALA 2015 in San Francisco!  Library journal did an excellent job of covering the conversation at several different points — please see links below.

Rethinking Privacy at the LITA Top Tech Trends Panel

San Francisco Deets (scroll to bottom for Tech Trends Panel info)

ALA Takeaways (please scroll down)


Miles and Miles of Texas – Part II

Think you can’t understand your data network?  Well, think again! It’s time for the second round of visits to rural Texas for “You Can Do I.T. – Basic Network Technology Training” where participants share a day filled with fun, adventure and accomplishment, including creating network diagrams and logging into a router — breaking it — and fixing it!

Don’t believe me?  Hear the words of class participants in this nice video produced by my host – the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The first round got rave reviews from participants — and I can’t wait for the next round of visits in Tejas!

PS:  The homepage image (also below) shows the sites (with yellow and green pins);  the blue pin shows places where I’ve spoke or presented in Texas (in Austin multiple times — at SXSW and Texas Library Association conferences) and the red dots are my Texas clients.  Yowsa!


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Laconi – SXSW!

**Update** Many grateful thanks to LACONi and the Oak Park Public Library for being warm hosts, and especially to tall of the attendees for helping make this such an excellent session!

Looking forward to presenting a “tools you can use” session about SXSW 2015! Carson Block Live! On Libraries and SXSW!

If you’re in the Chi area join us at the Laconi (Learning – Sharing – Networking) event on Friday, June 5 in Oak Park IL!

Program Description:

Carson Block has been a library technologist for 20 years – as a library worker, IT Director and now a Library Technology Consultant.  His passions include leading technology visioning, planning and other activities designed to held build the library’s capacity to serve communities.

Libraries help people, and Carson helps libraries.  It’s that simple!

Libraries and South by Southwest (SXSW)

Library activity at the annual SXSW Interactive and EDU conferences in Austin TX is at a fever pitch!

As a place of convergence, the conferences are a place to learn about and experience new technologies *before* they become mainstream.

Library workers of all disciplines pony up the significant cost to attend SXSW to:

    • Evangelize libraries
    • And bring back new ideas that they can use

Come learn about both efforts — and ask questions about SXSW!


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“If Books are our Brand…”

Yowsa!  I’m getting some very  encouraging response from an article I wrote for the current issue of Public Libraries Magazine!  Here’s one…

“I was blown away by ‘If Books are Our Brand,’ by Carson Block.  It is an outstanding article.  It’s everything I would have written if I was smart enough to do so.  Every e-reader class I teach or every time I demonstrate the e-book catalog, I get that odd sense that I am sending folks further away from the library.  It’s a strange feeling; worse than when we lost $85,000 in funding.  Money will always be a problem; it’s the idea that as library professionals, we feel less relevant–even in a fleeting moment.

The article is dead-on; ‘this is about how market forces could, perhaps unknowingly and without malice, wipe out the public good served by libraries.’  This is exactly what I couldn’t seem to quite ‘get’ when trying to wrap my head around e-books and e-readers and their impact on libraries.

And I agree, ‘knowing how to go forward isn’t a snap,’ but with the issue so succinctly clarified by Mr. Block, it eases my mind a bit and re-enforces my commitment to what I believe is our brand–reading.  Yes, we must ‘have access to the resources and tools in an ever changing world,’ but we must fundamentally champion reading.”

Sharon McRae, Director
Shaler North Hills Library
Glenshaw, PA