Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Thinking outside of the box

I've decided to post part of my lecture (IST 677) for this week. In the last two weeks, I've tried to get the students to think outside of the box on how to make digitized materials available online. I've been trying to push them out of their "library" comfort zones and seek inspiration elsewhere.

This week, I wrote:

Thinking outside of the box: The discussion question last week was one meant to get you thinking outside of the box. The example I gave in the question had to do with interactive online maps. Some of you mentioned Amazon.com, ebooks, using iPods, etc.

As librarians, we tend to look at our “library world” for ideas. Historically, this has been good, but the world has changed.

  • Ÿ How people use technology has changed.
  • Ÿ Our reliance on various types of media has changed.
  • Ÿ Our attention spans have change. We flip TV channels quickly. We change radio stations quickly. And we form an opinion about a web site in a 20th of a second.
  • Ÿ We expect flashiness.
  • Ÿ We want information yesterday. In other words, meet my information need immediately or before I know that I have the need.

It is time to look elsewhere for inspiration.

What tools do you use? PC? Laptop? Cell phone? PDA? Instant/text messaging?

Which of those tools can you use in your library? Which of those tools can you use to communicate with your library?

Which of those tools can you use to interact with the digitized materials at a library?

How do you want to interact with your library? How does that 18 year old adult want to interact with the library?

There is a movement to make libraries better that is known as Library 2.0 (or L2). The “Library 2.0” name may not stick, but I think the ideas behind it will. What is Library 2.0? Sarah Houghton (LiB) says that Library 2.0 is…

…making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs…The basic drive is to get people back into the library by making the library relevant to what they want and need in their daily lives…to make the library a destination and not an afterthought.

Part of Library 2.0 is about using technology better (e.g., social networking tools), but part is also just focusing on our users and given them what they need (not what we are able to give them).

So here is a challenge…I hope you will begin to look at the services and ideas that exist around you and begin to think about how they can be applied to a library. What can you learn from the businesses you interact with? From the media? From museum (e.g., interactive museums)? From video games?

And then think about if there is something you’re seeing that would make a collection of digitized content even better for its users.

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