An introductory guide to library technologies, now in its fourth edition!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Core Competencies of Librarianship . . . What Role Technology?

Here's a post from the ADL Librarian blog that adds a contrary point to some of my thoughts on developing competencies, particular in terms of technology. The blogger questions the efficacy of projecting out what technologies will be in vogue five years from now, and then adjusting our training/education/etc. to meet the needs of that time. This point comes up in commentary on an article from the Medical Library Association News by Ellen Detlfesen, entitled “Are Library Schools Teaching What the Next Generation of Librarians Needs to Know?”

I can see the point - as the blogger notes, how often do our guesses pan out? But I still think it's useful to think about skills that will likely carry through the technologies we can forsee and the ones we actually end up with.

It looks like the ADL Librarian will be posting more thoughts on this article in future posts, so it's worth following.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Useful tech links from American Libraries

The "Technology News" section of the November 2009 American Libraries offers the following five links that look interesting and potentially useful:

Web Work 101: Be Your Own Tech Support - a list of 10 ways to troubleshoot basic computer problems in a post to WebWorkerDaily.

7 Steps to Make Computers Accessible for the Elderly
- a blog post from MakeUseOf that offers techniques to adapt Windows to make using a computer easier for folks "of a certain age."

300+ Resources to Help You Become a WordPress Expert
- a post from WebDesigner Depot that offers many (and I mean many) resources for working with the WordPress blogging platform.

The Top 10 Things Library Administrators Should Know About Technology
- Ten great pieces of advice from Roy Tennant (who knows a thing or two about technology in libraries) for library administrators who may have qualms about innovating with or implementing technology.

6 Ways We Gave Up Our Privacy - Post from CSO Online noting that by sharing pieces of ourselves through social networking, Google, GPS', the Kindle, RFID tags, and the Patriot Act, we have lost privacy in large part. How to get it back? Read the post, for starters.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Talking about expected library technology competencies

I had a nice opportunity recently to talk about my findings on expected technology competencies in libraries and how we can (corporately and individually) grow our skills.

I gave a Technology Spotlight presentation at the Academic Library Association of Ohio's Annual Conference in Wilmington, OH on October 30. You can see my presentation and handout here.

I then spoke at the Michigan Library Association's Annual Conference in Lansing, MI on November 4. The presentation and handouts are here. That was a great trip for me, in part because it gave me an opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds as an undergraduate at Michigan State University.

Both presentations were entitled "Are You Ready to Roll?: Expected Technology Competencies and the Library Worker." That is the key question for all of us with technology, I suppose: are we ready to roll? Are we ready to take on the challenges that come with working in libraries today? We all come into our jobs with skills and abilities and knowledge in various related and not-exactly-related areas. Can we find ways to keep track of new developments and to add to our skills as we go? I think we can, and that combining a personal assessment like the survey I did last year (and many other options out there) with some goals to grow our knowledge can get us on the right track. I hope these presentations may be of some help to you as you look at your technology skills and desires for professional growth.

I should also include in here a presentation I did back in August on similar ground for the Ohio Library Support Staff Institute.

Keep learning, keep succeeding!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Viva faceted catalogs and discovery layers!

After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software - Technology - The Chronicle of Higher Education

This story from the Chronicle of Higher Ed is a good introduction to a) alternate search interfaces for library materials, and b) ways to bring together and search the complex collections of digital and physical resources that libraries provide. Chapter 6 in my book offers more details. There are a variety of commercial and open-source products available, including the one we have at Miami University.

A competency of change?

explodedlibrary bunker: Librarian 2.0: the most adaptable to change? by Helen Partridge, Queensland University of Technology - this blog post makes an interesting suggestion about needed competencies for library staff today: the ability for constant change. Based on the results of my survey and a lot of commentary, resistance to change does block a lot of technology development in libraries (often resistance for its own sake rather than constructive, careful consideration of new technologies - aimed at avoiding big jumps being made for no good purpose). What do you think?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Digitize your library on the cheap

I came across this site (DIY High-Speed Book Scanner from Trash and Cheap Cameras) in an article on Slate and it really struck me. I'm not a great do-it-yourself-er, but what if libraries created these, and scanned stuff, and made it available for free and . . .

Wake up! Well, of course it's not legal (for materials still under copyright), but this is an interesting application of re-using old technologies (environmentally sound!) to convert materials from print to digital. I'm not saying that the e-book trumps the printed book, either, but there are some very intriguing convergences here.

Please do not try this at work. But at home . . . 8-)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top Tech Trends from LITA at ALA

The twice a year run-down of technology trends has just had its most recent report from ALA. Here's a summary of the trends by David Lee King LITA’s Top Tech Trends | David Lee King (there's also a link on David's page to a webcast recording of the session. It's always interesting to listen to the tech experts give their takes on what we should be watching or adopting next.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Check out the cover!

Just to update you on the progress of the 3rd edition of the book, printing is moving forward and the book should be done sometime this month. The new cover is displayed on the blog now. I think it looks great! It's very mobile technology-focused, which really speaks to me as an intriguing development for society at large and libraries in particular. I hope that focus also shows in the book (not that I don't cover a wide array of other technologies, too . . . ).

It's been fun to see the covers evolve over the editions (I've liked each of them in turn, but it's nice to see it change with each new book). It's also linked on the Neal-Schuman site and orders can be sent in at any time. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Technology - and other - Competencies from WebJunction

WebJunction - Competencies - Here's the site to find a set of competencies for library staff skills. There is a lengthy report to download and to use in your own library in setting expectations for competencies. They have also posted the results of their technology skills survey, which I am quite curious to compare to my survey results to see what overlaps and divergences exist. This is a very interesting project and could prove very useful for libraries to determine what individuals in different positions need to know and for individuals to plot out areas to grow in. I'll be interested to hear how individuals and libraries make use of it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three New Search Services: Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, Google Squared | Disruptive Library Technology Jester

Three New Search Services: Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, Google Squared | Disruptive Library Technology Jester

Here's a great comparison of three new search tools created by Peter Murray (the Disruptive Library Technology Jester). He describes each of the tools and then suggests some sample searches to use to compare them. He also has a screencast on the page of sample searches he has used on the tools to highlight their capabilities.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Speaking of technology competencies . . .

WebJunction has a survey up and running to "define technology competencies for the field and to connect them to learning opportunities." You can take the survey at WebJunction Technology Competencies Evaluation - it's up and running through May 20, 2009. You can also see the list of competencies that WebJunction has created and tied into the courses they offer.

I think it will be interesting to see how respondents rate themselves on the various technology tasks included in the survey.

Monday, April 13, 2009

5 Things I Didn’t Realize I’d Be Working on…

5 Things I Didn’t Realize I’d Be Working on… - This is an interesting post on the ACRLog that covers five responsibilities the poster didn't expect to have when entering library work. Though aimed at academic libraries, I think that the "unknowns" (all technology-related) illustrate a pretty common phenomenon among library workers: there's always some new technology that our library, our patrons, our parent organization, our community movers and shakers are using, and we need to help support it.

"Mobile platforms" is bound to be one that we'll all run into eventually (if my thoughts on mobile library use are on track). "Unofficial student technical support" is probably something that most libraries see - helping (whether students or other patrons) handle operations in MS Office applications or other quote-unquote non-library operations.

Are there surprises (technology-wise) that you face in your library?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kindling yet?

Well, I found this post on Gerrit van Dyk's Shaping Libraries blog very interesting because my library has just taken the plunge and purchased a Kindle 2. It gives some hope to library checkout of the Kindle, assuming that Amazon is contacted and allows you to do so (given the fluidity of their terms of service agreement).

We're not to the point of checking our Kindle out yet, but we're building to that point and choosing titles.

Is anyone using the Kindle at their libraries? How about the Sony Reader?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MaintainIT Webinars

I came across the MaintainIT Project when I was making updates for the third edition. There's a lot of usual information on the site, and this is something new: free webinars on a variety of technology topics: the 23 Things staff development project, an IT book discussion, and grantwriting for technology in libraries. Check it out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Technology petting zoo?

Here's an idea for increasing staff comfort with new technologies -- give them a chance to play around with the technology! This presentation at Slideshare from Maurice Coleman and Annette Gaskins (they presented it at the Maryland Library Association conference in 2008 gives a useful overview of how to set up such an event, where to get the technology, and how to make it work. Great idea!

Oh - there is a lot more on this from a webinar archived at WebJunction. Check out their page here for a flash video of the webinar and a bunch of documents.

Top Technology Trends - ALA Midwinter 2009

Head to the LITA blog to read, watch, and hear the discussion of top tech trends from this year's ALA Midwinter. To be honest, I have yet to listen or watch it in full, but I do check this out after each ALA conference to see what trends continue to impact the library world and which new ones bear following. I'll chime in with my thoughts once I've had a chance to listen fully, but I thought I'd be sure to pass it along before I forget.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New edition forthcoming!

I mentioned this briefly in my last post, but I am happy to announce that a third edition of The Neal Schuman Library Technology Companion will be coming out this summer! I submitted a manuscript, and am working on revising it now. Aside from a chapter on technology skills which includes the survey data mentioned below, the new edition updates every area of the work that has altered over the two and one-half years since the last edition. I'll let you know more about it as the work progresses.

Technology skills in libraries survey results

In late November/early December 2008, I created a web survey on technology skills in libraries (the questions used in the survey are available here). Respondents were solicited from 14 electronic discussion groups which covered multiple library types as well as a diverse range of specialties or areas of focus in libraries. Over the three week period that the survey was available, exactly 1800 individuals responded.

The respondents are not a perfect cross-section of library staff from all types of libraries. 54% work in academic libraries, 25% in public libraries, 11% in special libraries, and 10% in school libraries. In terms of education, 80% listed an MLS degree, other masters degree, or other graduate work as their highest level of education. Those who chose a single primary area of responsibility were fairly well distributed among library departments and tasks: 16.4% in cataloging, 16.3% in library administration, 13.7% in reference, 10.2% in library IT/systems, and 8.1% in instruction. 20% of respondents chose “Other” on that question, and nearly half of that group said that they performed all or nearly all of the tasks in their libraries. 36% of respondents have worked for 10 or fewer years, 35% for 21 or more years, and 28% between 11 and 20 years.

Respondents were asked to select from a list the technologies or technology skills that they used on a regular basis in their jobs. The ten most common ones, with the percentage of respondents who selected them, were:

E-mail - 97.9
Word processing - 96.2
Web searching - 94.1
Searching library databases - 92.7
Using an integrated library system - 86.3
Web navigation - 80.7
Teaching others to use technology - 79.1
Spreadsheets - 78.3
File management/operating system navigation skills - 62.3
Troubleshooting technology - 61.9

The remaining items in the list of technologies showed a great diversity of skills on hand, including instant messaging (at 32.6%; a percentage I thought might be higher) and creating online instructional materials/products (at 43%). "Making technology purchase decisions", at 40.2%, indicated to me that these decisions are not being made widely throughout organizations, but this role appears to reach beyond the percentage of respondents indicating their primary duties as administrative.

The "Other" category on this question exposed a number of technologies that I should have included in my list, most notably wikis and social networking in general.

I asked respondents "what technology skill could you learn to help ou do your job better?" The most common answers were web design, HTML, various Web 2.0 applications, creating databases, and using Access. Nearly 200 indicated that they did not see a need for additional technology skills (some suggesting that technology skills are not the answer to all needs in their libraries). A very common response was a need for more time to learn any number of things about current and developing technologies.

I also asked them "what technology or technology skill would you most like to see added to your library?" The most common responses here involved blogging, instant messaging, podcasting, SMART boards, wireless (access, printing, etc.), new integrated library systems (ILS), and talents in web design, Web 2.0 technologies, programming, and graphic design. A sizable number of responses suggested that they and their colleagues needed to be more comfortable with the technologies they already had.

More details from the survey will be available in the new edition of my book, which should be in print this summer. I hope these results are of interest and advance our collective understanding of what skills and competencies are widely present and/or required in libraries. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the survey.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Perceptions 2008: an International Survey of Library Automation

Perceptions 2008: an International Survey of Library Automation
The results of Marshall Breeding's most recent survey of library automation systems. It's an interesting look at libraries' satisfaction with the systems they are using and the glimpse of the market share each system enjoys.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Who The Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway?

Who The Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway? - Some interesting background on the population of contributors who create and alter Wikipedia entries. It's a big group of occasional contributors whose articles are massaged by a smaller group of "insiders." Definitely worth a read.