It’s staggering how much we’ve learned.

Earlier this month I was asked to put together a timeline of the technology my library has introduced since 1995. We want to get a clearer picture of all the things library staff have had to learn, absorb and incorporate in their daily work lives. I’ve been able to put a basic timeline together that shows a lot of library initiated technology. Things like introducing public access computers, teaching computer classes, introducing an online public access catalog and much, much more.

I’m running into a problem though…

I’m not sure how to show all of the things library staff has had to learn because of the introduction of public access computers.

The different versions of Windows and Microsoft Office would be a lot by themselves. Add to that the changes the internet has introduced and it’s staggering how much library staff has had to absorb. Changes in search engines (remember AltaVista?), and email to the social web (blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.) have progressed very quickly and library staff has had to keep up in order to answer the most basic questions (How do I sign up? etc). These are all changes we didn’t institute. They are changes that came from outside the library. The items listed on the timeline are all initiatives launched by the library.

So, what’s a good way to reflect the knowledge library staff has gained and shared by the introduction of public access computers in 1995?

Notes from 2012 LITA National Forum

I’ve finished writing up my notes from this year’s LITA National Forum (October 5-8). I don’t think they do justice to the amazingly smart people who presented. I’ve tried to include links to the speaker’s slides and any relevant links they mentioned. I’ve also grouped all of the available online slides and keynote presentations into one place so they should be easier to find.

It was a great weekend. I learned a lot and met some very smart/funny/nice people. I left with my head full of ideas that I’m still trying to process. Being surrounded by people smarter than me is always a treat. Especially when they are willing to share their knowledge.

I am very thankful to the Friends of the Library for financing this expedition and hope to do it again.

Notes can be found here.

Links to slides and keynote presentations can be found here.

This app could be very, very cool.

I just read this post on GigaOm about a yet-to-be-released app for the iPad called Mindmeld. It’s a conferencing (Skype like?) app that listens to your conversation and provides relevant information about the things you’re talking about. While you are talking! Without you having to do anything?!

I won’t pretend I understand how it works but it looks impressive. It’s supposed to come out next month. I wonder how much it will cost? I may have to try it out.

Alternative Discovery Options: DCPL mobileapps

Chris Tonjes (IT Director/CIO) and William McClendon (Enterprise Architect) of the District of Columbia Public Library were the presenters of this session. They have a good team that have been doing some very innovative things. They even blog about some of the stuff they do and other interesting information at the DCPL Labs Amino site. I’ve been following it for a while and have found it very informative. They were the first library in the country with an iPhone app and it is pretty slick. The theme of their presentation was about developing that app and the strategies involved. I was impressed by their knowledge and skills. Parts of their presentation were a bit too technical for me so I’ll try to write what I understand.

On with the notes:

It is not the time to retrench and not offer new things because of budget cuts. It is time to experiment with new tech and try the things that may make our services better. (amen!)

They are allowed to experiment and fail. A lot of the things they try don’t see the light of day but they get to try. Their boss encourages it. Their experiments are small and not publicized. I really like the “labs” idea and really would like to have something similar.

Goals for their mobile/iPhone app

  • Wanted to integrate their content with the iPhone interface and iTunes app store
  • Leverage their code with many other new things

The platform will become more agnostic soon as they develop new versions. They used the lessons they learned building their iPhone app to expand their mobile offerings and will begin applying those lessons as they move forward. A new version of the app will have a library barcode in it for scanning. It will also take payments via iTunes. Make and change holds, update account. They are working on BlackBerry and Android versions too.

They chose to design the iPhone app instead of a general mobile site because an app is:

  • WebServices driven
    • Built once, usable for all implementations
    • ILS system, version, platform, and patch agnostic
      • no need to need to update whenever there is a change in the ILS
      • it doesn’t matter what ILS they use (they can change and it won’t affect the app)
    • Implementation did not disrupt ILS, staff, patrons, or IT!
  • Apps are platform OS specific, utilize unique features
    • you get all the cool features of the platform
  • App store based delivery, 100% smartphone OS vendor support
  • Webservices are ILS specific, but Apps are NOT
    • port Webservices to alternate ILS, transparent to ALL consumers •
  • Insulates back-office changes from end-user
  • Full library branding and marketability
  • SOA enabled to other entities
    • govt., university, schools, parks and rec.

There was a lot to this session that I missed. I’m hoping someone took some very good notes. I feel that this is an area worthy of significant investigation.

This was my last session of CIL2010 and I have to admit that I was exhausted and looking forward to going home and seeing my family. I apologize for my shallow notes. Luckily one of our web developers was in attendance and was able to take good notes.