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NELA – Marshall Keys’ ” Step Up to the Future”

2006 October 22

I just attended the first session of NELA and network access kept me from live-blogging, but Marshall Key‘s presentation lived up to my expectations.

Here are some of the tasty parts, hastily transcribed (he can talk almost as fast as I can):

Don’t tell me about your grass seed when I want to know about my lawn.

There’s a disjunction between what libraries are doing and what’s happening in the world. Traditional libraries’ focus is on product features and people don’t love their stuff because of their features. Libraries are committed to a medium and not a message. Example: Does the American Medical Association have a ‘Center for the Stethoscope’ the way we have a Center for the Book? Books are just tools. Similarly, we are building library buildings as civic monuments instead of diverse delivery mechanisms. We need to be more aware of current trends to fulfill expectations as they develop instead of after some private enterprise has filled in the need.

In order to stay relevant libraries need to shift away from the status quo and make more investments in the cutting edge. There are new populations to serve and we’re not serving them. “The future of libraries depends on meeting the needs of emerging users.” Libraries are completely rule bound in a society that accepts no rules. We need to identify the business we are in and then assess: “Who is our competition?” and “What are we going to do about them.”

Keys then outlined four important trends that libraries must not only be aware of but also respond to:

Trend One: Changing Demographics
As the majority of our professional workforce is aging, and so is the population we are catering to, which is natural, since it’s what we know. We are ‘legacy librarians’ and replacements are needed. Librarians must build into a youthful population. ‘Old’ to us is ‘new’ to them.

Do we accomodate cultural differences or help them to assimilate?

Trend Two: Globalization
Tom Friedman, The World is Flat

Most services are going overseas, even drive-ups at McDonalds’ are now answered by remote workers who transmit your order back by the time you pull through. How long until library services are filled the same way? [LR- Maybe they already are? Just not by librarians?]

What does a ‘B’ student do to compete with those from the Indian Institute for Technology?

Trend Three: Changing Technologies
Buzznet as one of the first Web 2.0 examples.
Blog mentality:

  • What I think is important.
  • What I think is important to others.
  • Things are important because I think they are.
  • If I don’t think it’s important, it isn’t.

[Added by LR, This concept reminded me of my Jantelegan post.]

Esse Est Percipi from George Berkeley, translates as “to be, is to be perceived”

51% of bloggers are between the ages of 13 and 19, 90% are under 30. [LR, this includes me, for another couple months]

To these users, PRIVACY is unimportant, COMMUNITY is important

Dominant Themes of Emerging Users

Community – Friendster, MySpace, Facebook. MySpace has 60,000,000 users worldwide.
Kids don’t user Flickr, they use Webshots.

Portable Technology – All services they need delivered to their phones: Ask Me is any question’s answer on your phone in five minutes or fewer for 49 cents.

PersonalizationHGTV and Pimp My Ride directly harness the desire to personalize by making a whole show and a whole network by showing how others have personalized their own spaces. Custom ringtones. PSP and Roomba skins. iPod and laptop covers.

You are unique even though you’re like everyone else.

Users expect content anywhere, anytime… and they want to share it.

Having it their way vs. doing it our way.

What do they want? Look at Amazon: Related searches, Customers who bought this also bought, Listmania. [LR – Amazon provides ways for users to interact with their content and eachother around it.]

Trend Four: Library in Decline

When it comes down to it, I don’t know the role of an academic library in the electronic information age. – A college president

Where are these librarians?

Users who don’t come into the library are NOT failures.

“Treat ALL students as distance students.” – Ann Marie Casey

We need to create library services to support a digital way of life.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Basic Science permalink
    October 23, 2006

    It is SO hard to stay up-to-date. Today, MacDonalds revealed its new look and policy: copy Starbuck’s and set things up to keep folks in the restaurant longer (you make more money). The parallel may be Tabblo in place of Webshot.

  2. October 27, 2006

    Talk about the future of libraries! I love this posting, Lichen! Lots of things to think about as we move forward in this very technologically advanced era with so much technology. Now it’s up to libraries to figure out ways of making it (technology) work in their environment!!!!


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