Friday, June 17, 2011

Getting Out in Front of the Curve

From the SLA 2011 Conference

Stephen Abram Looks to the Future: Getting Out in Front of the Curve

Slides from this session

1890’s – economic depression gave rise to the Industrial Revolution – scientists were our saviors.

1930’s – economic depression gave rise to the Financial Market driven economy – CEO’s, MBA’s and CPA’s were our saviors

2000’s – economic recession should give rise to the Information driven economy when Librarians should be the leaders.

If we, as libraries and librarians (information professionals), are not where the people are – we are marching toward irrelevancy. If our patrons (and would-be patrons) are on Facebook and Twitter and 2nd Life and wherever next – we need to be there too so they will know who we are and we can communicate and work with them where they are.

We only get so many once-in-a-lifetime chances to do great things.

Find the real needs or our users and align ourselves with them. (Sounds a lot like Mary Ellen Bates’ notion of building a fan base!)

Internet and technology are still in their infancy stage. The next shift is coming!

Close to all printed works are available online. Most all audio and video is already searchable.

What is getting in our way for using the resources and technologies that we have and will come?

  • You don’t know what to do – learn
  • You don’t know how to do it – get a smart phone and a manual and read it!
  • You don’t have the authority or resources to do it – play – kids don’t ask permission to play.
  • You’re afraid you’ll get in trouble – it is always easier to apologize than to ask permission.
  • Once you figure out what’s getting in the way it is far easier to find the answer (or decide to work on a different problem).
  • Stuck is a state of mind, and it is curable

These are just excuses!

What we as librarians do is to make sense of the morass of information.

20 years ago we put all the US case law and regulations online – that didn’t eliminate the need for attorneys.

Calculators and spreadsheets didn’t get rid of the accountants and budget staff

Similarly – making data and information available online will not mean the end of librarians and other information professionals.

What do these have in common?

Columbus, Cook, Magellan and Libraries

They search for the corners of the earth, the edge of the oceans and discover dragons

Questions for today’s librarians:

  • Are our priorities right?
  • Are learning, research, discovery changing materially and what is actually changing?
  • Books – not so much any more – not going away – but not what is driving us!
  • What is the role for librarians in the real future? i.e. not just what is an extension of the past

What has changed?

End users

  • Physical access and basic reading have already evolved to intellectual access with new competencies
  • Libraries – are they at the heart of the campus? Not anymore.
  • Students are focused at the lesson and event (essay, test, exam) level
  • Researchers are connected beyond the host institution

End users want meals – tasty and nutritious.

In the past, libraries have offered them grocery stores. How do we create the meal from the resources that we have? How do we give them not just books and data – but the learning experience?

Librarians play a vital role in building the critical connections between information, knowledge and learning.

Provide a platform to help the end user co-create the learning experience.

The new platform – the knowledge portal – the Information Commons
What will the end-user be like at the end of the experience?

Our end users are changing – Millennial and Post-millennial people are generally smarter, they read more than Boomers, because of gaming and the Internet their eye movement is difference. Their brains wetware is different!

But – Twitter and Facebook are dominated now by middle age folks.
eBook reader usuage is largely middle-aged
Mobile data usage is growing beyond youth and is expanding in the workplace!

Text-based learning is good – but some people use logic-based learning and most respond best to visual/experience-based learning.

Target the end-user – REACH OUT!

We need to be a Beauty Salon – market what we do for the end-user – what the experience will be. You go into a Beauty Salon and come out looking/feeling beautiful! You go into a library and come out – smarter!

Google/Bing/Yahoo etc. are great at Who – What – When – Where – but the answers to the Why and How can be manipulated to give different results.

The learning experience is:

Data – Information – Knowledge – Behavior (not wisdom)

What do WE need to know?

  • How do library databases and virtual services compare with other web experiences?
  • Who are our core virtual users? Are there gaps?
  • Does learning happen? How about discovery?
  • What are user expectations for true satisfaction?
  • How does library search compare to consumer search like Google and retail or government?
  • How do people find and connect with library virtual services?
  • Are end users being successful in their POV?
  • Are they happy? Will they come back? Tell a friend?

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

We need to provide clarification – not just information – there’s too much information!

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