ALA10: LITA Awards Reception and President’s Program

Hi! I’m Andromeda Yelton, and I’ll be your conference blogger today, covering the LITA awards reception and President’s program.

LITA Awards Reception

Full disclosure: I’m one of the awardees, and utterly starstruck by the others.

The event opened with mingling and one of the best food spreads I saw at a program at Annual (cheese, fruit, cake); thank you, LITA, for knowing how to entertain.

The LITA/Library Hi Tech awardee was Marshall Breeding, whose Library Technology Guides site was indispensable to me during my library automation class; exciting to meet the man behind the data. Read the press release for more of his huge pile of accomplishments.

The Frederick G. Kilgour awardee was John Willinsky, whose Public Knowledge Project is doing some really interesting things with open access and scholarly communication. Read his press release, too. He told a charming anecdote about the library club in his school days, to general laughter.

And then me! I received the LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award for my paper, “Document Classification Using Wikipedia”. Thank you to Ex Libris for your generous sponsorship, and to the awards committee for letting me share a stage with such distinguished awardees.

Then three LITA scholarships were presented (to Katy Rebecca Mahraj, Sofia Becerra, and Julianna Barrera-Gomez); only one could be there, but Mahraj shared some nice thoughts on how this support from LITA makes those of us who are new to the profession feel like our input matters.

LITA President’s Program

Mary Madden from the Pew Research Center, aka (as she pointed out) “the Pew Center on What the Hell Teens are Doing All Day”, presented on “Four or More” — what can we learn from bleeding-edge power users with four or more networked devices?

For details, check out her slides.

The beginning of the talk covered some common (if not always true) assumptions about youth internet use; demographics of the online population; and background information about who uses privacy controls. (See the slides for specifics.) The meat of the talk, though, concerned this four-or-more population. What do we know about them?

  • They’re younger, wealthier, and male-er than the US population as a whole…
  • …but not whiter. Unlike most early-adopter groups, they are about as racially diverse as the population at large.
  • They have near-universal adoption of desktop and laptop computers, cell phones, and iPods. Many have portable gaming devices. Only 13% have ereaders — but that’s four times the rate in the general population.
  • Their devices are wireless.
  • They are much more active users of social networking sites: more likely to be on those sites, to check them frequently, and to actively manage their online images.
  • They are more likely to filter the flow of content, not just out, but in; they need tools for managing their connectedness.

So what are the implications?

  • Question our assumptions about tech use.
  • Be ready for patrons who use multiple access points for online content and expect cloud-supported apps.
  • Expect that mobile users are social media users, but that a “limited capacity for engagement” means filtering tools are critical.
  • Know that privacy and reputation management are huge concerns, but people often understand them poorly (and need guidance).

Audience questions afterward ranged all over the map, but many showed a real concern for privacy issues. For instance: people can get value out of exposing their personal information (for instance, to recommender services) — how should we approach that? (Madden noted “personal information has become a form of currency online”.) Or: do teens manage privacy more actively than adults because they care, or because they put up so much content that they need more after-the-fact response? (Madden: the research isn’t all there to answer this. It’s complicated.) Or: we’ve been talking about online presence and tech skills as they relate to our personal lives, but what about our work lives? (Per the talk, some workplace policies limit employee online presence — and some require it. Madden noted that there’s a Pew report on Networked Workers [pdf], but we still need data on college students.)

Other audience questions touched on potential convergence of technologies (is four-or-more a meaningful metric if we’re all heading toward multifunctional single devices?), educational technology implications at both the K-12 and the university level, including both faculty adoption & training and the expectations of the rising generation of students; the role of gaming; workplace implications; how people find, and trust, information online; and the issue of copyright, both youth expectations and publisher roles. (For myself, I wonder if this population is a leading indicator or an outlier, which have different implications for how libraries need to respond.)

Madden recommended some further reading (and what would a library blog be without reading suggestions!). I think these were what she was talking about:

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