Wednesday 1 June 2011

It's June! Let's get blogging...

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.

- Katrina

Edit: Kate Freedman (@katejf) has created a netvibes feed to amalgamate #blogjune bloggers here.


  1. Thanks Katrina. A couple of responses to important issues you raised:
    We've met, we are roughly the same age ("late twenties") and we have a social media presence. Nobody else matters.
    I try not to think on a regular basis, even about my use of social media. What is the Twitter?

  2. I too do not have an e-book reader, merely lust after an iPad and don't have my RSS feeds under control. I don't understand how things work without cables even though I hate them, so they seem to be a necessary evil. Other than that, I love technology.

    On a serious note, I too am often astonished at how much I take for granted that others in and around the profession view things the same way. One of the disadvantages of hanging out in cyber space with like minded virtual friends is that it's easy to forget we are actually a self-selected pretty small group.


  3. @newgradlibrarian I completely agree. There are times when I have to stop myself falling off my chair at the lack of what I would consider basic knowledge about emerging technology.

    But I think it is important to remember that given a bit of time we can all continue to learn more about this field. I have to set myself a goal of reading a few blog posts each day in June because I must admit I keep myself so busy I often just don't find the time to sit back and read about other people's experiences in more than 140 characters.

  4. A few thoughts...

    E-READERS: I think it's more important to know how to use an e-Reader than it is to own one (I don't own one but my partner does. I prefer going to the library down the street, browsing books, checking out a ton, and decided what to read later).

    SOCIAL NETWORKS: I think it's important to know why you or your organisation have a Facebook/Twitter/blog account. Is it to check up on friends? Or to stay in-tune with all the professional events that are going on? Is it to market to your greater community? Or to have a dynamic "bulletin board" to post and track your organisations services, events, etc? A professional social network "plan" can help!

    NEW TECHNOLOGY: "being aware of new possibilities and not being afraid to take the right risks"--Well said, Katrina! Keeping track of new tech tools and toys is very important, especially from outside the LIS world. However, it's just as important to not fall into short-term fads and to keep your organisations goals in mind before investing in toys.

    WHERE TO START: For me, it's as simple as keeping a "Check Out Later" bookmark folder on my browser. That way, I keep track of interesting things I want to check out later, but don't feel obliged to. Plus, it's easy to delete and start all over!

  5. I'm OK with social media although I don't mix up with others that much. However working as a librarian I've developed few things, eg, blog, twitter, youtube, flickr for the library and do feel those tools are very useful. There is a great market there where people only go to social media for info. We just have to admit that and try whatever ways to catch them and promote our services. I'm 50+ but I keep going. I believe all those new techs would co-exsit with books (printed), at least for a while. So I don't worry about 'what will take over what' that much. For me everything has its own obit and can be used for the same purposes - access info.

  6. @JC I must also confess that my "check out later" bookmarks and instapaper are also rather out of control!

    @Swallow I tend to agree about technologies co-existing with books, at least for the foreseeable future. And it's important not to just jump in to different technologies because everyone else is without considering why you're using it and if it's is going to help achieve your goals.

    @Mal if you don't know what the twitter is then I'm afraid you're not cool enough to play ;)

    @newgradlibrarian I agree, it is scary. Mind you as I continue to learn new things from my networks I wonder how I survived for so long without that knowledge! I suppose sometimes you just don't realise what you're missing.

    - Katrina