VALA Presents David Lee King

Was very happy to be able Friday 23rd September’s seminar in Melbourne with David Lee King from Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, fresh from his appearance at NLS #5 in Perth and Hamish Curry from the State Library of Victoria – presented by VALA: Libraries, Technology & the Future Inc. (thanks guys for organising this awesome afternoon’s presentation).

Freak out, geek out or seek out: trends, transformations & change in libraries – David Lee King

New book coming out next year – Face to Face – connecting with users online.

Was at NLS #5, lots of energy and enthusiasm. Saw lots of good ideas there.  Also had lots of staff telling him that they take their ideas back to their libraries and get told NO. Got told a few times that their IT guys are Evil!

Mentioned Grove Library and Community Centre – doing sustainability type things underground. Have movable, comfortable furniture. Don’t have a ref desk, but have staff workstations located around the library as the staff are circulating. They moved shelving and furniture to make room for the community.

Can be a bad place to be freaking out – not good for anybody. Should we be geeking out – as soon as it hits market? No, should be testing out for our users. We need to be seeking out.

Personal technology has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. In libraries, we have online resources, new technologies, new collections and new user expectations, online resources. Gone the way of the past: floppy disks, typewriters, film cameras and watches seem to be on the way out, at least for some.

One big change is we now have competition. Thirty years ago, the only place to get answers or borrow books was the library. Book stores have gotten big and offer many of the same services – they do storytimes, read books, enjoy coffee. Breaks down in the reference question department. If you want something fast – Amazon. They are a big competitor for us.

Not so much competition, but a change that has messed with libraries, is that newspapers are disappearing from print. In US, 120 newspapers have already changed from print to digital. On the Newspaper extinction timeline – it is expected that Australia will no longer have any print newspapers by 2022.

In US, they have rent DVDs from a vending machines on the street. But they don’t have the older titles. Competition for us. E-books, are the same. Overdrive now offers Kindle compatible ebooks now for libraries which maybe helps ease the pressure if we offer it.

Tablets, notebooks and laptops are taking over from desktops. Google has taken over from the ready reference collection. The positive is that it frees us up to answer the deeper questions, that’s if they know to come to us to ask. And then there’s the smart phone – which does everything!  Including making phone calls!

Tech changes in libraries – in the past included fiction, electricity, phone reference, copiers and then in the 1970’s we got our online catalogues and in the 1980’s the PC took off, the 1990’s the internet appears and in 2004 it was Web 2.0. The three biggest destination sights now are Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which were created in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Emerging web has changed dramatically and has nothing to do with technology – it is about connecting people. It is real time, decentralised (can visit library on the web, without going to the website), its multimedia (line between newspaper and TV websites are blurring). Every company is a media company – we write articles, create content, pushing out our wares. Emerging web is very mobile – the web is in my pocket – but it should also be that the library is in my pocket. Mobile websites for libraries are a valuable tool – want it to be useful for people who want to do a task quickly – renew, ask a question etc. Emerging web is social, its two way, public with global reach, so need to be careful about what you say – if you can’t say it in person, don’t say it online.

David is Digital Branch Manager, he has a department – IT and a concept – Digital branch. He is a community manager, he scans the horizon, he is executive editor, long range planner, manager, evangelist and he answers the tough questions.

His 3 realities:
1. all services will be physical and digital – not so easy to achieve eg. storytimes
2. we’ll use the web to build unique stuff
3. to some, the digital branch will be their only branch – can place holds and pay to have them mailed out

Content – digital branch has to have things for people to see, do, read etc when they visit. They have catalogue searches on their website as well as their Facebook page. You can subscribe to their blogs by RSS or email. Blogs have photos and info about their blog contributors, so you can focus on the content you enjoy most. Photos they have on Flickr and YouTube are also reposted on their website in their blogs etc.

Community – how do you do community in a digital branch? They have instant messaging reference (using Meebo) and get an answer (if the library is open) – on both their website and embedded in their catalogue. Need to have a front door – that’s dramatic, but every page on the website is a front door, as well as Google, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter are also front doors. We have many digital borders.

Conversation – lots of discussions going on, between staff and users and between users. Conversations on the digital branch include the instant messaging widget, email reference, comments on the blogs (good and bad – which provides opinions and can help you continue the conversation), Facebook comments, Flickr comments, Twitter. Will follow their customers that follow them on Twitter, because they want to focus on their local community. Will celebrate achievements – they sent out a T-shirt to their 1000th follower.

Can have vanity searches for your library, town, postcodes and things like reading etc. Find out what the community is talking about. It gives you an opportunity to step in if you see they’re talking about you, but not talking to you.

Tackle change – ideas to get started thinking about it. A lot of libraries are not seen as relevant in our communities. They go to everyone else, before they come to us and only if they remember. We need to be first. How?
Model the way – you better be doing it first if you expect your staff to be doing it, everyone needs to be on the bus (Jim Collins book – “Good to great” – if you don’t have the right people on the bus, get the wrong ones off and get the right ones on) .

Our websites, our buildings, our services need to be as easy as a light switch to use – so that they don’t have to think about what’s going on – libraries have to stay out of their users way, unless they want to deal with you
Know your patrons – know what they are doing in your buildings, on your PCs, on your website – it can help you with designs and redesigns. It also helps you to know who doesn’t use your library. Find out where your non-users are and then market to them.
Online services have to reflect physical – no “will answer your email within two business days” on your online reference.

If we don’t change, we will die and some libraries in the US are already closing.

As print books slowly disappear and ebooks come to the fore, we will still need libraries, we will still have jobs – our patrons will lead us to where they want us to go.

Finding time – “what do you want me to drop, so that I can do that”. Its not about that, its about changing focus – what is the priority of your library and concentrate on that first, then if there’s time left, you can do other staff. If you can’t, the other stuff will fall to wayside and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Its about the user ultimately and they are online – so we need to be there.

Question: Improvement in catalogue, that negates the need to have instant messaging in catalogue. They are getting a new OPAC, which will meet that. There are overlays, and plugins that can be used to improve catalogue response.

Tablets and roving reference experience. Staff are answering a lot of questions when they are roving around, working well.

New website – can we get immediate content on there. Yes, it is possible, consult with your website provider (small library – Council IT).

Sustainability – what are you doing? Measure use against work input. Have service – personalised reading lists – fill in a form and a librarian will compile a personalised reading list for you, to meet your needs. Wasn’t getting a lot of use, so they re-jigged the form and marketed it and already the response has been good. If it doesn’t improve, they will stop the service.

What is the one next big thing?  Fun – thinks he will be wrong. Google + – just gone public in the last few days. No organisational pages yet, but that will come. Very different to both Twitter and Facebook, so there is definite potential there. Very closely tied to Google Apps, which is potentially a huge change – brings together Facebook, Microsoft and wiki-like content.

His current book: Designing the digital experience.  Website:

Putting IT back in reality – Hamish Curry, Application and Online Learning Manager – State Library of Victoria

Mash-up idea – take photos and put them on top of each, as you rub the them on your  iPhone, you rub down through the years and see the space/place as it was going backwards through time.

Contact: @hamishcurry

Statements heard from people he has spoken to about the SLV: ebooks must be killing libraries, this digital stuff must be making your job hard, guess no-one wants to go the library any more, bet your numbers are down.

Reality – the worst game ever! IT can help augment the experience. Smart phones, tablets are helping to do this. Extend the experience – after this you will look further, online of course. Enhance the engagement – you may tweet your own thoughts and ideas which enhances things.

What breaks assumptions over expectations? How can we get people to come in physically or online, to see for themselves. Seeing is believing, but you have to not only market, but be able to back it up in reality, to participate. They have to also have a social connection, not with the building, but with the people in the building – with people in the library who they believe are more honest and authentic.

Instead, you can offer surprises – offer them something they don’t expect. You need to do things that make your users curious. Give them a chance to discover – so that they end up owning it – even if we miss out on getting the credit. Let them make connections, both to people and to the place.  Learn – check out Happy Planet Index: – number five is learning. So very important to ensure people keep learning. All this will keep people coming back.

Do something unexpected and make it cool, both in the physical and online environments. (I geek the library).

Always offer silence, trustworthiness, answers, quality and Wi-Fi. Quality, means finding the balance between doing it right and do it quickly.

From the community section on SLV website – helps embed them back in with their users.

Digital is not so scary – we are still trying to make the worlds information accessible in our pockets – but has moved from a miniature library in a matchbox, to online – the only difference is that we use mobile devices to access it and the content has been outsourced.

Technology has really shaped learning and literacy. We can talk to anyone at any time. We can work together from anywhere at any time. We can connect with people anywhere, any time. The curriculum has had to change too, but teachers are struggling to keep up with these phenomenal changes, so that they can lead young minds. They are getting on board and librarians have to do so too.

Information has changed, but even though trusted sources are always the best, they are not the first two results on a Google search, where people think they are trusted sources. There is so much learning now available on the web, not just content, but ways of providing learning – eg. Video conferencing. Information scarcity has changed to information complexity. Clay Shirky – “Its not information overload. Its filter failure.” This is what librarians are great at and we need to be able teach everyone.

Khan Academy – – 2500 videos to teach you just about everything. Some good, some bad.

We are answer rich, but question poor. (Susan Greenfield – “Quest for identity in the 21st century.”) Hamish has great admiration for reference librarians who deal with people who have done the search but cant navigate what they found, or find the answer they seek.

University of Sydney has created a great range of engaging resources to help people to search and filter. SLV has done the same with ERGO ( Designed for students, but stats showing that teachers are finding it very valuable.

Hoddle Waddle ( – program to help students navigate 50 sites in the CBD in a day. Not taken up initially, but once they made most of the content Freemium, bookings have improved and all the resources are being much better used. Teachers are now presenting on the program at conferences. They are now considering offering it as a public program, for cultural visitors to use it. Improvements in progress including mobile contributions using Broadcastr. ARIS is another app which does something similar. As augmented reality becomes more mainstream, there will be even more opportunities to put IT back into reality.

Change involving technology, needs not only the tech, but also a cultural change.

Interaction with inanimate. SLV playing with QR codes – used it in a gallery to see how people
use it. There are also Google Goggles, i-nigma, Red Laser, Photosynth – a 360 degree mapping app.

Risk: Partners and programs – risk is not a dirty word, being risk adverse – makes you slow and inflexible – wont do anything because we could get it wrong, it requires trust of the organisation in their staff, motivation, relationship – always remembering that shift will happen.

If you don’t step in and do it, someone else will – and they not present what you think should be.

Some tools to do this: RSS, Twitter, Google +, Facebook, Yammer. Half of SLV is now on Yammer, after starting with 5 a year ago.

Networks are always changing – online mimics what nature does – new networks develop and old ones die and drop away.

“Use the force, Luke”. – Obi Wan Kenobi. We need to harness the world around us. We want to be able to pull people on site and push them online. Don’t create your own social space, go to where your users are already. Need to occupy multiple spaces to access different audiences.

Sometimes you need to prepackage content and bring it to the fore, to make it easier for people to access and to bring our collections alive.

“The more you learn, the more acutely aware you become of your ignorance.” (Peter Senge – “Fifth discipline”) SLV programs: TedX Melbourne and now happening around the world, but it pulls people in and engaging with you, Personal Learning Network with SLAV teaching teachers and teacher librarians about the online world.

Its not so much I Communication T, but change as the C in ICT. We need libraries to be FUN – not just the physical, but the online as well. Need to know what the drivers are, have to be prepared to play and technology has a role. (Night at the Mitchell Library video).

Video games are changing how things work. They have play, replay and experimentation, they involve risk and reward, they can be integrated experiences and augmented experiences. The only difference between chess and video games is a shift in format – the skills and experience are very similar.

International initiatives – Find the Library at NYPL, National Gaming Day in US Libraries, Freeplay at SLV.

Merge and mirror programs – a fusion between what they experience in one space and are further enhanced in another. Transmedia – can stand alone (eg. Facebook), but can also be linked to draw people to other spaces. Hacks and Library Apps can also be used to enhance experiences.

Data is becoming sexy as people are presenting it differently. eg. Infographics, Library Hack, Open Government Data.
“But problem solving , however necessary, does not produce results. It prevents damage. Exploiting opportunities produces results. ” (Peter Drucker – “The Effective Executive”)

“When people in motion, meet a library in motion, anything is possible” – Director Stockholm Public Library.