Emerging Technology Forum 2011 Geelong

I was fortunate to be able to attend the 3rd annual Emerging Technology Forum 2011 in Geelong, which is a collaboration between Deakin University, Geelong Regional Libraries and the Gordon Institute of TAFE on Tuesday 17th May. A long way to go, but well worth the travel.

Stephen Abram – The future: Frankenbooks, social collaboration and learning on steroids

We have right on our side, we know that  learning matters.

Sweet Mona Lisa smile with bubble saying Moron – over the heads of people who say that libraries are no longer needed. If you confuse having libraries with having know-how then you are mistaken. Know how counts, not know that. Its the know how that matters, the professional skills. As content becomes more accessible, we are drowning people in know that.

We all start with Google, because it does a great job at who, what, where, when. It sucks at how and why. Drug info online is provided by drug companies – if even its not their website.  Should we be happy with only that information being acceptable?

We are not a scalable solution for small questions. Google answers more questions in one day than all the librarians do in 25 years.

We only get so many once in a lifetime chances to do great things. Internet and we did. Mobile and social are our opportunities.  Biggest negotiations are in copyright – worldwide, telling us what we can do with information and taking away rights that we already have.

Is it the end of libraries as we know them? Hope so, at least the public perception of us as big warehouses. Google adjusts their results if it comes through a campus (geo-tagging), so the results reach that lucrative market. How much money do we make out of our searching?

We need to be defending the right to read, not the book. Defending toxic glue, human cells etc – its the memory that it evokes, not the smell itself. Can’t defend libraries over librarians, should be about the community spaces.

What will the roles be for libraries and librarians?

Has been a lot of change in the early part of the century, in the 20s and 30s. We had an infrastructure shift in the last 20 years, but it wasn’t a major change, that is coming.

As we move forward, we don’t know what the right answer is. We don’t know what learning is going to do, but we know that humans will be involved and the best way is to PLAY. Watching just doesn’t work. For those librarians who don’t connect on social networks, you are missing out on what is happening with your major market. Libraries are social institutions are should be on social networks. By not being there, we are not connecting with our clients, we are choosing to be transactional rather than transformational.

So what is changing – everything! We are connected to the world. We have to be smarter, nimble and more connected. The tools available now can make this happen.

Librarians are being the glue in communities of practice in very innovative areas including health and technology. Feeding in information as it is needed. We need to be in the spaces and being the glue – delivering the content at point of need.

School libraries are the best improver of school test scores, apart from parents reading to their child.  (25%) School/public library partnerships increase score by 5%+.  Libraries and information content and technology leadership are critical to Higher Ed.

Its not about what you find, librarians are about understanding what you find when you search.

Communities with libraries as an investment receive very high ROI – average 650%.

Most library content is organised like grocery stores – both in our physical and virtual spaces. How do libraries package our content in ways that our users want. Its getting harder to separate out content and making it easily findable for those who want it.

Librarians play a vital role in building the critical connections between information, knowledge and learning. There are 7 different learning styles – we need to be presenting our content in those different styles. We are text based, which isn’t even the most common learning style.

The elephant in the room is how do we deal with the depth of people and their styles. Do our collections support how they take in content.

Need to be collaborating across institutions, not competing against them.

Strategy is a choice. Emboldened librarians are the key – try things out with little projects.

The Internet and technology have now progressed to their infancy – they are toddlers.  We need to find our voice.

Should we be letting our technology dictate what we can or can’t access via our devices? We are about freedom to read – but that should mean freedom to read whatever we want!

We should be talking to the people we are uncomfortable with in our communities – its from them that we will learn the most. We are very comfortable talking to people who are similar to us. You may find that these are your best market.
If we want to serve all, its not just about reading, we need to support the culture, the people and their learning styles, not just their reading habits alone.

People are changing – IQ is up overall, increased educational attainment, playing video games improves brain development, device proliferation, sectors are very tech dominated, reading is up, library use up particularly due to e-books, ebook sales higher than print.

Need to be aware of eye movements- millennials are O frame, gen Xers are F frame. Need to ensure that our services are meeting the needs of our users, not our own needs.

Can libraries keep up with change? Formats have died before and we can deal with the death of books as we have survived the death of other formats.

Re-intermediation – how do we put librarians back into the space. Trust yourself to make a difference and have an impact. Don’t roll over and play dead – challenge false assumptions.

Two kinds of librarians – those who just watch and those who get involved. If we are to survive, we need to be the latter. We need to talk about our value, communicate better, advocate for ourselves and our users, market better.

The power of libraries is not information, it’s clarification. It is the value we deliver.

Have great library projects, but then we take the personality out of it – Inside a dog is an exception.
(only librarians will argue over spine labels rather than the content of a book)

We need social connections which are both deep and superficial, to make changes in our communities.  So we need things like both Twitter and Facebook.

Social media @ Deakin – Kat Clancy
The key to using Twitter is following the right people. @sabram is a good person to follow. There are plenty of librarians to follow and many more people depending on your interests.

Yammer – has been used by Deakin for the last 2 years, but only seeing good results in the last few months, with a big take-up by library staff. Yammer is for private communication within an organisation or between pre-designated groups. Its Enterprise social software which enables communities – allows external groups to connect as well, if  you choose.

Similar to a forum, but easier to use. Can tag topics, include attachments, social bookmarking, integrates with Twitter or reply using email or SMS and apps on various devices, can be customised and has security features.
Deakin using Yammer to share info within work groups – between different areas of university – between students and alumni, problem solving, having questions answered, networking, events, polls, staff focus.

Deakin has Facebook page rather than group, more functionality, better promotion and more public. Got more likes when advertised on their website. Have users posting to their page.

Dealing with social media – you will receive negative feedback – deal with them as you would normally, you may have to deal with inappropriate comments and engage. Don’t have to be formal, works better if you are casual.

Dos and Don’ts for social media:

  • Do be informative – tell what you are about
  • Don’t be a parrot – will lose followers doing this
  • Do make a tradition – eg. follow Friday, Wednesday resource of the week
  • Don’t neglect replies – engage with your users, don’t be there just to be there
  • Do call for action – use ‘like this status” – it gets you great feedback
  • Don’t rely on text alone – photos are a great tool
  • Do have a crisis plan – be ready for negative and inappropriate comments
  • Don’t be impolite – commonsense, same as dealing with user in person or on phone


How much time do you spend monitoring and answering questions?
Kat checking twitter when checking her own account. Facebook is getting checked first in the morning, then 2 – 3 times during the day. Working on getting people who can answer the questions, there on social networks, so that it becomes part of their workflow. Are working on a social media policy at present. Getting a question a day during peak times, around 3 a week other times.

Aggregation services?
They monitor mentions of Deakin Library as twitterers won’t always put the @ tag in their tweets. Tweet Deck is the aggregator she uses.  It enables her to check tweets, mentions, direct messages and searches in one screen. Hoot Suite is an aggregator which includes both Facebook and Twitter.

How often do you tweet?
Most often post things which link to a news item.  Have put up fun things, like Old Spice ad library adaptation and some things about the University too. Uni has presences now, but is very formal. Need to put personality into what you do in social media.

Deakin’s e-book device loan trial – Sarah Sherman
E-books were useful for their users because they were available immediately, 24/7 access, portable. For the library, immediate access, less space, cheaper etc. Big growth in e-book content in the last 8 years.  Now have 125,127 e-books.

Expect tipping point from print to e will be in the next year or so.

Acquiring e-books via patron driven purchasing model (EBL), subscription to packages, publisher packages, individual title purchases, gratis (mainly government publications).

e works for Deakin, as it allows equity of access and flexible learning, have great support and they can trial new resources.  But more could be done…..

2010 – what did they know about students mobile technology use?  No iPads, netbooks and smart phones increasingly popular.

Educause study of undergraduate students and information technology 2010. Laptop is already highest percentage, with Internet capable handheld device more popular than desktop computers.

Kept all this in mind when looking at which e-reader to buy. Pre-iPad, so considering their requirements, including price, existing market share, content available (free and paid), connectivity, battery life and general usability.

Originally tried Iliad, Eco reader and Kindle.  FIrst has gone out of business now, Eco not large market share, so Kindle was chosen.

Project brief – considered: content, how many, size, security, promotion and license issues.  Bought 15 devices of varying sizes, split between 4 campuses. Bought cases from store and placed 3 fiction and 3 non-fiction titles on each.  Included conditions of use, FAQ, removed charging cord. Amazon approved use, as long as individual content was bought for each device.

Benefits of pilot – gaterhing information on the scholarly application of it, raise awareness of e-reader technology, promote the library as a leader in new technology/change/ideas, provide information to the Uni community on these devices.

Mostly positive response to the trial. Some issues included: not including cable so users couldn’t download more content, no holds allowed on the devices, unfulfilled fear that users would register the devices to their own Amazon account – didn’t happen.

General feedback – more textbooks – just weren’t available, choice of content – wanted more – can now email their team once they have the Kindle and suggest for purchase, colour – e-Ink is easier on eyes for sustained reading, so not available, touch screen – all want to pinch, drag and drop.

Issues with lending technology included: laptops or net books are possible, check your applications (some licences restrict it so cant lend device with software loaded on it), they can be useful even if you can”t lend them – testing, tech zone for play. What are the devices offering – tools, content, portability, productivity, iPads for mobile/roving reference, iPad touch for shelvers who work night shifts – for quick ref help, provide flexibility and choice for our users.
Other things to think about? Who will look after the devices – charging batteries, setting up  wireless etc. Who will – pay for apps and connectivity, administer authentication and subscription logins, manage content. Who provides training, instructions in best use, repair and replace and the list goes on.

Amazon sold more ebooks than print in 2010. Publishers ebook policies will affect use – loans between devices, loans from libraries etc are all in flux.

Have tried some more devices – Cybook (loaned from vendor) wouldn’t sync with their laptops and wouldn’t bookmark or highlight. Also looking at Kobo, which is slow and doesn’t have a dictionary.Now looking at tablet devices including the Handii tablet – heated up too much and short battery life, hard to read, Samsung Galaxy Tab (runs on Android) – limited apps and no e-Ink, iPad – no eInk and have to buy the quality eBook apps and just a bit too big. (want something between iPad and Galaxy Tab). More new devices coming out – Cisco Cius, BeBook Neo, Microsoft may be working on something, Kno. Didn’t try out Nook.

Ideal e-device:

  • not locked to a single source
  • able to handle multiple formats
  • multi-functional
  • web-enabled
  • wireless
  • run multiple programs
  • colour and touch screen
  • long battery life
  • lightweight

Til that happens its about the Apps. There are apps for Kobo, Kindle, Sony, Nook, Martview, Borders and Stanza.
They may still go down the Netbook/Laptop path in the meantime.

Showed the PushPopPress ebook demo that has been getting a lot of attention lately: check it out at http://www.pushpoppress.com/

Future long term: ebooks in the cloud.
Showed Google e-books promo –http://youtu.be/ZKEaypYJbb4. Business model not out yet, but will be using HTML 5 enalbing them to use video. They have already signed up top 400,000 publishers worldwide.

iDevices used by staff ARE heavily secured so that they have the same standard operating environment – no customising by library staff allowed.

Each device has its own Kindle account. Content is purchased using a university credit card for the Kindle and purchase orders for the iPad.

Came across a few geographic restrictions on the Kindle.

e-Paper, print disappears in temperatures under 30 degrees. (Steve Abram)

Exploring ways to spread OSS through public libraries – Open Source Workshop – Camilo Jorquera
Camilo was wanting to make open source more accessible to the public . Ideas included: software kiosk, preloaded USB sticks (which could be plugged into and run on any computer), online links to resources – eg forums, support networks etc, using it!, having Linux computers and having OSS installed.

Ask yourself – seems strange that libarires access to and don’t provide these free tools to the public. By not doing so, it contributes to the digital divide, so access, distribution and educating the public on quality and freely available software.

OSS is less about programming and more a philosophical approach to community driven and supported software.

Obstacles to use are restrictions put in place by IT departments, in trying to establish a Standard Operating Environment (SOE). Great for IT, not for a public requirements point of view. What should our focus be?
Support of software is an issue – IT depts know infrastructure well, but not software specialists. It really isn’t an IT issue, so expertise is not generally easily available.

A new approach – a better way. Camilo created a USB of open source portable content containing a wide range of excellent tools. They don’t affect the SOE as they are running off the USB.

He then handed out a USB drive with that software for us to try out and then keep! Device does an auto open and uses Portable Apps (portableapps.com) to access the menu. Some of the apps were added by Camilo, but many are available as is from Portable Apps. These are designed for PC, not portable devices – its the software thats portable.

Simon Goodrich – Portable – Future trends in technology
Much of Simon’s talk was the same as was given at the Yarra Plenty unconference – check out my report from that event.

Games applications can influence companies. Australian government is looking to get game developers to work with businesses on interactivity – ISIS project (http://cci.edu.au/post/the-interactive-skills-integration-scheme-isis)

Half of Australians now access the mobile internet.

SMS was initially only used to get a message to someone when they weren’t answering their phone.

Color – new service – take pictures together – has apps for iPhone and Android etc. Demo at http://www.color.com/

60% of Australians have smart phones – the other 40% might be our clients wanting to learn about these technologies.

Fast growing apps:
Instagram – growing faster than Facebook – share photos
Foodspotting – food guide, not a restaurant guide
Sound tracking – what are you listening to
They all use geo-location.

5 Pillars of social media

  1. Innovation is key
  2. Brand web literacy
  3. Increased engagement
  4. Next generation audience of fans, followers and subscribers in social media
  5. Mobile is here

Practical ideas right now:
Install recording booths in library for users to come and record their recollections of the local area and/or times and events.

Scanning parties at the library – come in and scan your photos – build a local history of the area – geotag it.

Book reviews – encourage users to contribute to your reviews – using the “do you want fries with that” concept.