We know a lot. We know where to find a lot more. We are entering a playing field where our users may know more than we do, about a lot of things. You all remember the guys from the reference desk who were experts on something or other and would still come and ask questions. If you worked it right you'd often learn as much as you taught but the library was a good place for guys like that. The analog is that guy at the reference desk dangling an ipod or a disk on key or needing to hop on email to print plane tickets or IM to tell his wife he'll be late..... plus he's frustrated and doesn't know why he can't get on a computer NOW.
Hybrid sounds sort of sexy and efficient at the same time, don't you think?
We can't, we just can't, be all things to all people. What is in our toolkit, then?
In the US, nutrition guidelines went from teaching people how to eat more to telling them to eat less. Similarly in our public libraries, we see ourselves in the "may you live in interesting times" type of situation where we need to learn how to limit access to our resources, not promote them. anecdote: Outreach quandary at my library....
- Clear outlines: "What we are trying to do for you"
- Clear guidelines: "What is and is not our problem. What is and is not our responsibility" remember when the health care people started telling you that you had rights? technologically, in as many formats and languages as necessary. Some things are your problem, some things, we fix and tell you when it will be fixed
- Clear understanding of the partnership "We learn as you learn."
Let's see where this can take us...
To many people the interface IS the information.
- What are we trying to do? Provide access to a lot of quality information simply and compactly
- Problems and responsibilities.Interfaces are hard, some of this requires user education, some needs vendor advocacy
- How we work together. Continually trying to improve interfaces, user testing
Remember the search/find distinction and know whether you are creating a tool for users or a tool for librarians.
if you want my business/patronage, ask for it by making your tools genuinely easy to use. jamesian geniune options. If we know why these products are better to use but CAN'T MAKE THEM LOOK THAT WAY we need to be prepared to intermediate
How current do you need to be?
- What are we trying to do? Stay abreast of changes in technology
- Problems and responsibilities. What's new and here to stay and what is just trendy? What's tested? How long do we have to choose?
- How we work together. Patrons know even if we don't. Think about a "just in time" model of tech adoption for
Read and consider, then ACT. Planning for new computers is different than planning for key drive/ipod access.
- What are we trying to do? Provide access and understand the laws.
- Problems and responsibilities. Understanding confusing laws, avoiding overpolicing and chilling effects.
- How we work together. Informing patrons and ourselves about the changing face of information and how libraries get in the middle. Moving from ownership models to subscription models
We don't have to choose sides, but just reading the warnings on the side of the box and failing to put those through your own filter is a side as well.
dealing with a lay population who only know about these rules and policies by watching tv, or reading MPAA/RIAA press releases in the media, copyright infringement IS theft? Don't be timid
First you've never heard of them, then they're legislated against in your library.
- What are we trying to do? Provide access to tools and reources.
- Problems and responsibilities. Oogy boogy talk from media. Concerned questions from parents. Why don't you have this talk from teens. Cautionary talk from staff.
- How we work together. Learn about laws. Educate patrons. Have a policy. Learn the tools.
anecdote about new job, seeing pictures of myself on the intarweb but not being able to get to librarian.net
This is a professional problem, even if it is not [yet] your problem.
- What are we trying to do? Provide access and obey the law.
- Problems and responsibilities. We maintain software, or eschew it and stay abreast of legislation. We explain it, try to make it unobtrusive, you try not to break what we have.
- How we work together. We have a policy that is public record. Even in a filtering environment, choices can be made to err on the side of caution or... not.
Collection development is serious work and choosing a filter should be thought of as a type of pre-weeding and given close scrutiny accordingly. If you must filter, tell your patrons, explain the process, explain their rights and your responsibilities. examples: tell adults they can get the filters turned off, have copies of the supreme court decision, explain what your filter does and does not block, have an explanation of why you chose it. consider an open source filter that you can more accurately monitor.
We're learning a new "expert balance" with our colleagues and patrons.
Large consortiums and bundled take-it-or-leave-it software, confusing technology and increasingly complex user needs are going to make
Our jobs will get tougher before they get easier.
Easy interfaces on the Internet raise the bar for everyone.we all know about information searching behavior where people ask their friends
Librarianship is becoming a profession for people who at least like technology [and love challenges] more than ever before.
Questions or Comments?
Jessamyn West is the editor of the weblog librarian.net
and the co-editor of Revolting Librarians Redux
. She works as a community technology mentor with people and libraries in Central Vermont. Her latest writing about technology appears Searcher Magazine. Her latest writing about midget wrestling appears in Wikipedia. IM her at iamthebestartist
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