So we begin. The idea of blogging every day of June didn't seem so daunting a couple of months ago, but now that it's here I find myself remembering how fast time has been moving this year and wondering how we'll keep up with the blog.
Luckily for us, we've managed to enlist some guest bloggers to lighten the load for the ALIA Sydney team. We hope that you'll find their posts interesting and educational. In sticking (perhaps loosely at times) to a technology theme, our guest bloggers have all been chosen for their experience and interest in the use of technology.
Our list of guest bloggers includes Ellen Forsyth, Zaana Howard, Kate Davis, Mylee Joseph, Mal Booth, Brett Williams, Meela Davis, Kathryn Greenhill, Emery Martin, Ben Elgart, and Alyson Dalby. This mix includes both local and international contributors from libraries, the wider information environment, records management, and LIS education sectors.
As organisations everywhere discuss the future of libraries and debate the necessity of retaining LIS-educated staff, libraries need to evaluate their core aims and values, and examine how emerging technologies can be utilised to achieve these aims. Certainly the role of the library is changing, and now is the time for institutions to start encouraging their staff to play with new technologies, follow what is happening beyond libraries, provide training and opportunities to educate staff, and to prepare people for change. Technology is moving at such rapid speeds it would be impossible, and rather foolish, to try to keep up with every idea that emerges. However being aware of new possibilities and not being afraid to take the right risks can help libraries create the future they prefer.
I must admit that I now find it strange to meet people my own age, particularly those working in libraries/information, who don't have a social media or online presence. I have find myself eagerly jumping on invites for anything new, even if I just have a look, claim my name, and then never use it again. I rely heavily on the networks I have developed on twitter: other librarians, LIS students, researchers, and educators provide fast and relevant feedback and answers to my queries. Chances are that if I have a library or research related issue then someone in my network will have gone through the same. That's even before I get to my other twitter networks. Mind you, for a librarian who loves technology I still don't have an e-book reader, my computer files are in a chaotic mess, my RSS feeds are out of control, and I have a phobia of cables.
At the same time I often wonder if my involvement in social media and the types of blogs I read give me an unrealistic expectation of the level of interest and skills that the greater community has when it comes to technology. Disasters such as the Japan earthquakes and the Queensland floods demonstrate how effectively technology and social media can be used, but on a day-to-day basis how many people really think about how they can use the tools they have available? Who teaches people how to use these new tools. As Marty Gervais suggested yesterday in the Windsor Star it's librarians and not machines who provide inspiration for learning. Of course there is also the ever-present issue of the digital divide, particularly as more and more material becomes online-only. Again this presents an opportunity for libraries to reevaluate their services and, potentially working with other organisations, determine ways to ensure that information is open to all.
When it comes to thinking about technology and libraries the topics seem almost endless and perhaps this is why so many organisations seem daunted by trying something new. Where do you even start? Well over the rest of the month we hope to provide some clues and some motivation. There are individuals and institutions with some very exciting ideas and we welcome you to comment, ask questions, and start discussions as they share their knowledge and experiences with us throughout June.
Edit: Kate Freedman (@katejf) has created a netvibes feed to amalgamate #blogjune bloggers here.