“Everything we do is pervaded by technology”: the LITA Tech Trends panel

After an unforgivably long lapse (“it was summer” doesn’t count as an excuse, does it?), I’m here to write about the rest of my ALA experience. First, the LITA (Library and Information Technology Association) Tech Trends panel. The panelists*:

  • Nina McHale, Assistant Professor and Web Librarian, Auraria University (Colorado)
  • Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition for Networked Information
  • Monique Szendze, Director of Information Technology, Douglas County Public Library (Colorado)
  • Jennifer Wright, Assistant Chief for Materials Management, Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President of Research at OCLC

*I didn’t manage to write down everyone’s full name at the time; I checked against this post from the Metadata Blog. The quote in the title of this post is from Lorcan Dempsey, during the Q&A.

In the first round, Nina talked about the content management system Drupal, which is “free as in kittens” – i.e., you don’t pay for it, but there’s a steep learning curve. Clifford talked about mobile apps, and the difference between apps and customized browsers. Monique spoke about mobile/proximity-based marketing, noting that 87% of libraries in the U.S. have free wi-fi; interactive is better than static, as it is more likely to be targeted and relevant (as well as grant-friendly and cost-effective).

Jennifer highlighted social reading – sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing that are designed to foster social interaction around books and reading, but also features built into e-readers such as Kindle and Kobo. To end the first round, Lorcan spoke about managing down print collections – developing infrastructure to support regionally based hubs (consortia) as libraries begin to cut down on some print material in favor of e-books and online journal subscriptions.

In the second round, Nina spoke about web accessibility and vendor awareness (which has, she noted, improved over the past ten years). (To learn more about accessibility and section 508, you could go to the government site…but then you might want to try Wikipedia.) Clifford spoke about imaging, computational photography, and images as interpretative/interactive data sets as opposed to fixed images (maps and other geospatial data, for example, are good candidates for this).

Jennifer talked about “the death of the mouse,” and using cameras and OCR (optical character recognition) as input in the future; she also talked about the trackpad vs. the mouse.  Personally, I can see the move away from the mouse already, with so many people using laptops with trackpads or touchscreens, and of course the iPad touchscreen as well. Poor mouse: </mouse>

Lorcan spoke about LibGuides as a set of curated resources or microcollections, and Monique wrapped up the panel with a discussion about online books (“what is a book?”).

This was a popular event, held in one of the smaller (but still large) auditoriums. It was interesting to hear more about those trends I was already aware of, and get some new ones on the radar as well.

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