I enjoyed the panel presentation. Jenny Levine and Kate Sheehan were both there blogging along with me. It was fun to keep an eye on twitter/chat/email and still pay enough attention to manage to ask a few questions and just learn things. Here is a slightly edited version of what I was writing during the event. My apologies of the lateness of this post. As I was heading home my own local library where I am a sometimes employee was dealing with their own privacy and law enforcement issue. Tough stuff. Click through for details, didn’t want to put this all on the front page. (more…)
The idea is simple and easily explained: “23 Things (or small exercises) that you can do on the web to explore and expand your knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0.” Helene Blowers is a librarian, or rather the Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. The project as outlined is a two month project, so you have about eight weeks to learn about two things a week. Best of all, it’s all available on the web, via an easy to read and understand hyperlinked blog, so you can try it out at your organization. Christine MacKensie, the director of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library in Melbourne, Australia (who did a four month version of the program) makes a great point in the Wired Article “The last thing we want is for people to come into our libraries and ask about Flickr or Second Life and be met with a blank look…. And they certainly won’t now.”
The Listening Post blog over at Wired has an interesting little post about libraries that use Overdrive to “check out” digital content. The content only plays on Windows machines and comes with Digital Rights Management that tries to prevent copying and using materials past its built in due date. More interesting is the comments where people debate whether using DRM in cases like this is actually completely appropriate, or a totally unnecessary inconvenience to library patrons. [del.net]
Folks who know me know that my general answer to this question is “No, but….” Unfortunately, my ten minute phone conversation was compressed into a soundbyte that I don’t really recognize, and for that I apologize to anyone who has to defend the idea of the public library against evildoers and naysayers who say “What’s the big deal anyhow? It’s all online.” I don’t think the problems the public library is facing have much to do with the Internet, but they do have a lot to do with the idea of relevance, people’s shifting priorities in tight fiscal times and the whole changing idea of community and public spaces.
For the record, the question I was asked over email was “Do we still need libraries in a digital age?” My email response, which I followed up with a phone call, was this.
Is your question really “Do we still need books in a digital age?” in which case, the answer is more complicated, though ultimately yes.
I guess my question for you is “Whose digital age?” because where I work, at public libraries in Central Vermont, the digital age is unfolding much more slowly and to much less fanfare than it is elsewhere. In a state where only 15-25% of the residents use broadband, the digital age is as much about hurdles and the threat of being left behind as it is about bold and shiny technological innovation and synthesis. Libraries and librarians help people not get left behind by technology, by democracy, and by people who think that libraries and technology can’t coexist and thrive symbiotically.
We need libraries in any age, they’re the human scale measurement for the information age.
Clearly I need media training. Thanks to the prophet for the scan of the article.