gina.persichini's picture

Some themes heard over the past few days at ALA

One of the great things about ALA is the opportunity to step back and see the larger picture of what is happening in libraries. It’s great to learn about other libraries, and even better to find out that they all share common challenges. I attended a couple different programs on Saturday that addressed the future of resource sharing. Add to that the content of the “Mining the Long Tail” presentation, the OCLC Environmental Scan, and pretty much anything written about the behavior of next generation library users and now I’m all riled up! Some major themes keep coming up:

It’s about Content, not Containers.
Library users, and potential library users, are becoming more interested in the information they need, and not so much concerned about the format or the source.

Anonymous's picture

Why Do We Exist?

I think that in order to determine where we should go we have to first step back and ask ourselves why we exist at all. What makes libraries of any sort — public, academic, prison, governmental, special, school — so important that they exist? Why should the taxpayers/company/whoever pay thousands for what we do? Could someone else do it better and more efficiently? What do we give back to our communities that others do not?

And, perhaps most important, has the day of the library, historically the epitome of linearity, ended? Or has it just begun?

Mike Doellman
Marshall PL
Pocatello

gina.persichini's picture

Mining the Long Tail

One the challenges of a huge conference like ALA is that there is so much going on, so much information being presented, that one (me) needs some time to process what was heard/seen/experienced. It’s now 14 ½ hours after my day started here and I’m trying to process what happened. How do I sum up a 3-hour presentation in this short space? The answer? It’s not going to be short.

OCLC sponsored a symposium today: “Mining the Long Tail: Libraries, Amazoogle and Infinite Availability.” It began with Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine. In October 2004 he wrote an article titled “The Long Tail.” I’m having a hard time explaining the long tail without a picture. But think of it this way: When considering movies, there is a core selection that makes up the bulk of what is viewed. And if the movies were ranked and put in order of popularity (purchase/rental) in a graph, the graph would start high with the big box-office superstars, continue to slope downward through the popular mainstays, and then end with a long tail of those movies that are ranked low in popularity. Not just low, some may rarely see the light of day.

gina.persichini's picture

Virtual Travel to ALA

Many a librarian will be traveling to Chicago this weekend to participate in the ALA Annual Conference. While attendance will likely hit around 20,000 people, a lot more are unable to make it. But that’s no reason to be out of the loop. There are a number of opportunities to keep up with what’s happening at the conference.

Right here Idaho State Library staff will do their best to keep Idaho libraries informed about the news, ideas, and information they pick up during the conference.

Readers may also be interested in the perspective on these other blogs, which will have live blogging from the conference:

Anonymous's picture

Back in the Saddle Again!

Finally! Summer has started and I’m getting the chance to "jump in"! Thanks for the books. I've started reading them and the posts. Also, have read Collapse-by Jared Diamond. What a thought provoking book for any "ThinkTankers"!

Here's to summer and the future, what ever they hold!
Priscilla Sisson

    Anonymous's picture

    Another Joiner

    I have finally wound up the school year and may have time to think and read...I hope! I received the books from ILA - Thanks, and have looked at the reading list, etc. I will be leaving for Costa Rica this Friday and plan to take along some reading materials for the think tank.

    gina.persichini's picture

    Library holdings in WorldCat

    The LiLI Unlimited Catalog allows the user to search for materials held by all the libraries in Idaho with just one search. Well, that is the potential. A user can’t see a library’s holdings in the database unless they’ve been added by the library. That might have happened in the past when batchloading and retrospective conversion projects were done with WLN. These days, it is more likely the result of a library that catalogs new materials using OCLC’s tools. That’s because the LiLI Unlimited Catalog operates in the FirstSearch interface — an OCLC product. And the LiLI Unlimited Catalog is really a subset of the entire OCLC WorldCat database.

    sue.walker's picture

    Serving the Print Impaired

    I'm caught up thinking about the future. Earlier this month I attended 5 focus groups with print impaired users and service providers. In those groups we asked questions about information needs, preferred formats for receiving information, and suggestions for improved access to information. I heard frustrations about current capabilities as well as ideas for future services and resources.

    gina.persichini's picture

    Passwords: Secure and Sane

    This week I have had the opportunity to sit in on the training for new LiLI Unlimited participants. Staff from these libraries are learning how to use OCLC’s CatExpress, FirstSearch, and Interlibrary Loan tools. As I hand out the passwords to access FirstSearch, I am struck by how much they look like something the cat types as she walks across my keyboard.

    FirstSearch passwords are machine-generated. Is it secure? You bet. Easy to remember? Not at all.

    Since this password can be shared with your library’s customers, you might want something more user friendly. So how can a library change their password to something that is both secure and sane? You have 2 options:

    jan.wall's picture

    Browsing

    I'm struck by this thought when I read these posts - what about browsing? I wonder if the focused search - i.e. knowing exactly what is "needed" will be the demise of wonderful serendipious finds?