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* Sunday, June 25, 2006

20060625 Scanning the Future @ Your Library

Cornish: "The systematic exploration of what might happen, so people can decide what they want to make happen"

wild cards: unexpected events that carry major consequences, whether catastrophic or benestrophic

scenario building is journalism in reverse

George Needham, OCLC
Joan Frye Williams, Consultant

George started and listed the 10 things Google has found to be true

Joan noted it's really easy to be a library futurist because libraries lag so far behind "real world" trends
there are lots of right answers and lots of possible futures

George: Five Landscapes, Three Dominant Patterns
1. self-service (which is not the same as no service)
- self-sufficiency
- satisfaction
- seamlessness
2. disaggregation
3. collaboration

Joan: civilians want us to set up the candy store, using all of our expertise, and then get out of the way so that they can do what they want and play with what they want to play with
they want us to set them up for success, not failure
meanwhile, we're all locking things up, keeping control, insisting that we be needed
users are voting with their feet, though
we need to cultivate a sense of "enoughness" - enough of us to help them how they need it
ready reference questions, which we positively count as statistics, are a failure on our part that allows users to be successful on their own

convenience AND quality
- my time
- my place
- easy to use
- no barriers

civilians are looking for opportunities to intuitively find answers
they want using us to be part of an active lifestyle; it's not ignorance that they choose things that are easier and more convenient
education of the "true" thing will not solve the problem
easy is not the same as dumb; making something accessible doesn't mean dumbing it down
we have to let go of perfectionism

simplified wayfinding:
- reduced clutter
- consolidated desks
- "situational" directions ("get answers for your homework" instead of "EBSCOHost")
- natural language catalog
- prepackaged tips, shortcuts, FAQs
- all staff capable of assisting with basic navigation and end-user tools

"bookends" service
- offer tools to get me started
- check my work when I'm done

options to consider:
- self-check as primary checkout
- OPAC toolbar
- touch screens
- roving support staff with wireless
- online fundraising (online is not a problem, even though it is in the physical world)

the average wait time for getting your boarding pass at the airport is 70 seconds; lets the employees concentrate on those tasks and problems that need attention
think about that in the library context

many of the intermediary steps between the idea and publishing the idea have been removed (blogging, IM, RSS, etc.)

big publishing is still using the "least publishable unit"
iTunes/iPod is the future

Joan: services for hunter-gatherers
we're not the beginning of these folks' search and we're not at the end - we're one point on the spectrum
we're not the only game in town anymore

options to consider:
- metatagging
- podcast programs
- USB flash drives and personal servers
- searchable desktop
- "life caching" ("trickle up technology")

need to let users "carry something away with them"
your next tech trend is what people are asking for for Christmas

george: collaboration

it's simply easier:
- for people to connect
- for technologies to connect
- for economies to connect

collaboration creates new patterns
"it's time to disintegrate the aggregated library system"

OCLC has been experimenting with social software

Joan: mass collaboration
change in the "politics of identity" - it's now easier to find other nuts just like them
so there are communities of identity on the web that cannot be enabled in the physical world in the same way

thinks libraries are good at cooperating with people like them, but not with others
mass collaboration is inherently anti-institutional
it's going to be difficult for those of us brought up on authoritative sources to be okay with non-authoritative sources
the locus of trust has changed, the sources have changed

suggested every library put an entry about themselves in Wikipedia because that's where people are looking for information

continuous partial attention
was "multitasking"
in the library world, we don't deal well with CPA; our policies force users to dial out everything else and concentrate on library stuff
but that's not how people work anymore
(think cell phones)

told a great story about a young person who answered his cell phone in a job interview; didn't stay on the phone, but all of the older people interviewing him were shocked; his response was "I didn't take the call"

what they saw as rudeness in the interview is what google is cultivating as productivity
all of the research shows these kids are doing just fine - they can do this
people coming to us will feel oppressed if we don't let them use their full abilities
if you must limit them to one thing at a time, you're asking them to give up a style of work that is very effective for them
you are the one that can't focus in a disaggregated world

options to consider:
- other people's blogs, vlogs, wikis (move your library stuff out to where people's stuff already is)
- collaborative filtering
- participatory websites
- mashups (wonderful examples of how we shouldn't try to control information so tightly)
- less reliance on content resellers

don't start a new blog on campus - put your posts where the users already are (the campus blog for users)

George: The Perceptions Report

Joan: the biggest implication of the Perceptions report is the end of adult reference as we know it
stand-up question-answering is dead
there is no other profession that puts its best people behind a desk
people associate quality with a style other than the one we use
we're deploying librarians like secretaries
and now we know people don't start with us anyway

options to consider:
- proactive reference
- virtual reference
- social network reference
- extreme googling
- reference by appointment
- "on call" instead of "on the desk"

George ended by talking about how libraries have never been the number one source people turn to for information (showed data from a 1947 survey), but how we've made great strides since then
we don't have 5 decades to get it right this time

fundraising online -
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Platial -
podcast information page -

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