Top Tech Trends at OLA

Today I had the honor of moderating the Top Tech Trends panel at the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference. My computer was tied up with slides so I had to take notes the old fashioned way – with a pen and paper. This means I missed a lot since I can type much faster than I can write, but I thought I’d share a few key points from the presentation.

First thing I learned about was that Google Apps has a school edition that is free! If you’re in a school you should certainly take a look into getting Google Apps for your school and school library.

Next Aaron Schmidt mentioned that the most important thing for libraries was ubiquity and ease of use of digital content. He mentioned tools like Overdrive being impossible to recommend because they have such cumbersome interfaces and many of our library tools are this way. We all know that library resources are hard to use and “easy trumps hard” when it comes to our patrons who live in the Amazon, Google, Apple world.

One attendee asked the panel where intellectual property comes into all of this. We’re preaching the power of free, but someone has to create the content and get credit for it. I noted that libraries are a great place to provide the tools needed to allow our communities to create and share content freely. Yes, we have to deal with intellectual property laws with the publications that are out there, but libraries are the best place to promote freedom of expression and let our patrons share what they know with others freely.

Roger Nevin spoke up about net neutrality and how because kids around the world are all on the ‘same’ Internet they are loosing a bit of what makes them different, there is less of a cultural divide. You might see this as a bad thing, that kids are losing their culture, but think of it this way, it’s a lot harder to make an enemy out of someone who’s like you. That said he believe that the Internet should be filtered in schools to protect children from all the bad that’s out there.

Dorothea Salo spoke up when I asked about how libraries should handle ‘evil’ technologies like Facebook and pointed us to the Facebook and Privacy page at the Park County Library System in Wyoming. We have to educate our users but at the same time we have be wary of becoming major buzz-kills or else people won’t listen to us. So there is a fine line for us to walk here.

When asked about mobile apps coming down the pipe the panel had a lot of things they’ve seen and things they think will become big. The first was QR Codes. These codes can hold so much data and we should be putting them on our shelves in libraries and sending people to research guides and resources at the library. Our mobile devices can be packed full of reference apps to allow us to better do roving reference – not just in our libraries but in our communities. Of course we want our collections to be searchable on mobile devices and some libraries have even developed apps that let patrons place holds on books and reserve computer time at the library. The one caveat of course is that right now it’s all but impossible to develop apps that run on all devices so libraries have to pick and choose.

When asked about using new techs in libraries Dorothea brought up the point that libraries have to fail more and fail faster at implementing new technologies – and we have to stop feeling guilty when we fail. The nature of technology is ever changing and it’s not all going to work for all of us. We need to put in place procedures for testing technologies. Aaron added that we need to fail privately though, which I’d agree with.

Overall a great presentation by all involved and I’m happy to have gotten to moderate!!

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this post!

    Speaking of taking notes the old-fashioned way, I learned today that it has distinct advantages. I attended your session today and took notes via a new netbook that I was test-driving. As the conference organizers cheaped out and didn’t offer wifi (what does that say about the library association) I only had my notes on the hard-drive. When I went to transfer them via USB stick, many of my files disappeared. So I am extra appreciative that you have captured the highlights.


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