Reality 2.0: Transforming Ourselves & Our Association

Last night I got to hear Stephen Abram talk about the future of SLA & librarianship. First (and most important) I have uploaded my pictures to Flickr.

Stephen started with a mini rant (a good rant) about the fact that there is no proof that the book is at risk. Reading stats are going up and book sales are going up. That said, do we hear that librarians are at risk? Ever hear this one, “Everything’s on the Internet.” The fact is that librarians are at risk even if books aren’t. In short, there are some serious issues we have to get stronger about talking about.

Stephen mentioned that we’re about to experience some huge changes. If you think about it, we haven’t had any major changes in a long while. Our grandparents had a bunch of huge changes all hit them at once (phones, tv, 2 world wars, etc) and it’s time for that to happen again. North America is way behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology. In Europe, people are using their phones for everything. They have free TV delivered through their phone and text messages for everything. I’m not a fan of this movement – maybe it’s just because of the costs associated with it here – but – I just want a phone – I don’t need it to double as a TV.

When it comes to digitization, China is only 5 years from digitizing everything written in Chinese. It’s not going to be long before everything is available in digital format. We’re going to need the tools to take advantage of this content.

So, what does this have to do with SLA? Everything! The world is changing and librarians have to change with it and SLA wants to help librarians make that change as smooth as possible. One interesting point that Stephen brought up was the fact that when someone leaves an organization one of the first things they do is clear off their computer – bookmarks and all. This means that all the great resources that long time librarians have collected are lost. We have to start storing our data in collaborative spaces so that we can all benefit from each other’s knowledge. I love this! And this is why I took so much pride in working on improving the Jenkins Law Library research links (a project) – I wanted to make sure we were sharing our resources with any one who might need them.

Stephen asks that instead of sharing the myth amongst ourselves that we’re collaborative, why not be collaborative? I love this! The fact is that the nature of associations is changing – something I wrote about in library school. The main selling point for associations used to be networking – but now with tools like Ning, Facebook and LinkedIn – why do I need an association to find fellow peers? With these tools threatening library associations as we know them, what can SLA do to continue to be important for librarians? The answer is learning and innovation.

One way that SLA is setting itself apart (in my opinion) is their Click-U. Educational events for SLA members. What I didn’t know is that they have a regular presentation by Gary Price where he shares the newest tools he’s found for researching and they have a monthly free course available. Being a recently graduated student, I’m a bit too poor to pay for too many classes – so I love to find things for cheap or free!

SLA also offers members access to over 1000 e-books on leadership and management topics (apparently we were told about this – but I missed it somehow – after writing this I’m heading to the SLA site to check out my member profile). They also offer what they call ExecuBooks Summaries – they are 4 page summaries of new releases.

The thing I’m most excited about hasn’t been released yet, but I’m keeping my eyes open for it, the Innovation Labs. This area of the SLA site will be a testing bed for members to try out all kinds of free and proprietary software without having to install it or pay for it. Some of the big names will include Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Blogger, Survey Monkey and Confluence. It’s basically a place for everyone to play!! This area of the site will also have over 25000 software training videos from atomic learning. How great is that???

While this isn’t everything that Stephen talked about, these were the bits that I was able to write down as he sped through his awesome talk. He certainly made me pay even more attention to what the association is doing for us – I hope he did the same for some of the rest of you.

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