All posts by Andromeda Yelton

Meet your Board at Annual (including online!)

LITA Board portraint

Back: David Lee King, Rachel Vacek, Jenny Reiswig, Cindi Blyberg, Mary Taylor, Jason Griffey.
Front: Zoe Stewart-Marshall, John Blyberg, Aaron Dobbs, Andromeda Yelton, Lauren Pressley

Hi! We’re the Board, and we’d like to meet you.

Whether you’ll be in Vegas next week or not, there are lots of ways you can get in touch with us, get involved with what LITA’s doing, and tell us how you’d like us to represent you. Here’s your handy list of where we’re likely to be during Annual. Come chat with us!

Social media and Online

Programs and Social Events

LITA Open House
New to LITA? Want to learn more? Start here!

  • Friday, June 27, 2014 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S224

Top Tech Trends

LITA Awards Presentation and President’s Program
Featuring Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code!

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S233

LITA Happy Hour

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 5:30pm to 8:00pm
  • Kahunaville in the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd S.

Check out the rest of LITA’s programs at Annual, too.

Board and Committee Meetings

Per the ALA open meeting policy, all meetings are open to all members (though some may have closed portions). You are welcome to attend.

Executive Committee

  • Friday, June 27, 2014 – 8:30am to 9:30am
  • Las Vegas Hotel Conference Room 03
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda

All Committees Meeting
Most of LITA’s committees meet during this time slot. If you’re thinking of getting involved and want to learn more, this is a great chance to do so.

  • Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 10:30am to 11:30am
  • Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibit Hall, Mtg Rm A

LITA Board I

  • Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S224
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda

LITA Board II

  • Monday, June 30, 2014 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center N217
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda

Hey, you read all the way to the bottom of the post! You’re awesome. High five. You deserve kittens.

adorable sleepy kittens hugging each other adorably

Introduction to Python at ALA Annual (or: awesome = True #ala2013py)

On Friday of ALA 2013, the LITA/ALCTS Library Code Year Interest Group taught about 40 librarians the basics of Python programming at a LITA preconference. Chicago was so excited about this that two million people showed up to celebrate!1

Topics included installing Python; data types; if/then/else statements; for and while loops; variables; lists and dictionaries; modules; and functions. By the end of the day, students were using these concepts to write and modify their own Python programs. If you want more details, or are wondering what these terms mean, you can check out all the course materials.

We also had some lightning talks to showcase real-world applications of Python. The lightning talks were over lunch, which we were able to offer due to generous sponsorship from the Python Software Foundation and PA Farrington Associates. Thank you!

All in all, the day was a fire hose of learning, in a great way. You can read some of co-teacher Eric Phetteplace’s lessons learned, or see the whole day at our Storify. If you blogged/tweeted/Instagrammed/etc. about the event, we’d love for you to post the link here, too.

And we’re not done. Whether you were a preconference student who’s looking for next steps, or an interested observer who wants to get involved, we have ideas and questions for you!

The interest group is planning a hackathon for 2014; go join the Connect group if you want to be a part of making that happen. The Python Software Foundation has lots of local user groups you can join, and the call for proposals for PyCon just went live. And what do you think? Should we offer more courses like this, or courses that build on basic programming skills? What would help you take your next steps?

I’ll leave the summary to one of our amazing students:


1. Or maybe that was something about hockey.

LITA Board of Directors candidates: Brett Bonfield

With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. I’ve asked the Director candidates to respond to these same questions. I hope this helps you make an informed decision among these outstanding candidates.

What is LITA?

LITA is the technology division of “the oldest, largest, and most influential library association in the world.” Structurally, this is what sets LITA apart from all of the other organizations, communities, and conferences that serve those of us who are committed to libraries and to efficient and innovative uses of technology. LITA’s status within ALA means we are in a unique position, and have a unique responsibility, to encourage libraries and ALA to make wise decisions about technology and to use technology wisely when making non-technical decisions.

LITA is also an impressive assembly of people who work in and in behalf of libraries. Meeting many of you in person and following many others’ work online, as well as learning more about the people we have elected to LITA’s board, has made me eager to participate in its governance.

LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?

When you’re given an opportunity to do work that matters and results in something tangible, you develop a sense of ownership and loyalty toward the entity that provided you with that opportunity. You also make the world a marginally better place, and you’re happier for it.

The board’s responsibility is to help LITA allocate its resources effectively, and its members’ energy and expertise are unquestionably its most valuable. There are innumerable ways in which each of us has the capacity to change libraries for the better. The more of that LITA helps us do, the more likely we’ll be to renew our memberships and recruit additional members to join us.

If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA Director, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?

Two words, but it’s one effort: simplicity and transparency. That’s what makes anything more accessible, and LITA is no exception.

I think two of the most famous maxims about simplicity apply: We need to focus on making LITA as simple as possible (though no simpler), and we need to focus on explaining LITA simply (because if we can’t, it means we don’t really understand it). We also need to be willing to provide that simple explanation to anyone who’s interested in hearing it.

Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?

Short answer: I’m 100% in favor of enabling virtual attendance.

Real answer: I think our individual financial resources and our interest in virtual participation are separate issues, and I think it’s important to see it that way. For one thing, if you conflate these ideas then it’s almost impossible not to create a tiered membership that views virtual attendance as a sort of adjunct to “real” participation. As a librarian, I’m committed to obviating this kind of tiering, and as a technologist I love finding ways to help people get the most out of every mode of communication, including online and face-to-face.

What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?

What I would most like is for LITA to provide more opportunities for collaborative opportunities, for LITA to become the library world equivalent of Silicon Valley. We have an enormous capacity and inclination for collaborating effectively in unexpected ways. My goal is for LITA to provide the freedom and the resources that nurture the kind of activities I mentioned above, those intersections of librarianship and technology that ultimately help to make the world a better place.


For more about Brett, see his LITA election page.

LITA Board of Directors candidates: Cody Hanson

With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. I’ve asked the Director candidates to respond to these same questions. I hope this helps you make an informed decision among these outstanding candidates.

What is LITA?

LITA is a community of library and information professionals of all stripes working together to explore the ways technology can enhance the services we provide.

LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with
retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?

This is a tough question. LITA is an organization both for and by its members. You get out of LITA what you put into it, and each member ought to be as responsible as the next for communication, and for embodying the supportive, welcoming, productive ethos that we love about LITA.

That said, “Ask not what LITA can do for you” isn’t probably the most effective sales pitch when membership renewal time comes around. When I look at the value that I get out of ITaL (especially now that it’s OA!), LITA-L, conference sessions, IG meetings, and (dead serious here) LITA happy hours, my membership dollars feel very well spent. Which segues nicely into numbers 3 and 4…

If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA Director, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?

I’d be interested in exploring a concerted member-driven marketing and communications effort. LITA staff do a terrific job of promoting the association and our events, but by necessity speak with an official voice. I’d like to see a communications committee that could take responsibility for LITA’s blog, Twitter account, etc. and begin pulling together all of the fantastic work of the association and its members. I think that a coherent and ongoing voice documenting the day-to-day accomplishments and concerns of our members would provide a powerful illustration of the value and vitality of the organization.

Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?

Another softball, eh?

I feel that all appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that open meetings are as open as possible, and to ensure that LITA membership has value even when members aren’t able to travel to meetings.

This is a very thorny problem, and not just for the legal reasons addressed at the recent LITA board meeting (see Andromeda’s post for her analysis). Here’s a no doubt incomplete list of issues as I see them:

  1. Technology – Yes, it is 2012. Yes, we still cannot rely on sufficient reliable bandwidth to stream meetings and sessions from our conference locations. The vagaries of convention center bandwidth mean that we often won’t know what’s possible until we fire up a webcam at the start of a meeting. Under these conditions, we can’t responsibly give our members the expectation that they can reliably attend our sessions virtually. If you had stayed home from this past Midwinter under the assumption that you’d be able to view and interact with meetings in real-time, you would have been sorely disappointed, but not for lack of trying by LITA members on-site.
  2. Privacy – There is a big difference between asking someone to volunteer on a committee and asking someone to do that committee work in a video live-streamed to the entire Internet and archived on a third-party for-profit video service. Yes, the work of our board and committees should be transparent to our membership, but many people have legitimate reasons why they may not want their voice or likeness broadcast willy-nilly, and I would never want these concerns to keep someone from volunteering for LITA.
  3. Revenue – LITA relies on income from event attendance. Yes, almost all of LITA’s meetings are open meetings, but historically they have been open to paid conference attendees, with minutes available to the membership at large. When we make the decision to stream everything, we no longer give members as much incentive to attend in person. Again, I say this as a strong supporter of enabling virtual attendance. But for the association to remain strong, we’ll have to find new sources of revenue to replace event income, or figure out how to make LITA function as a leaner organization than it already is.
  4. Quality – UStream+Twitter?Being there. We can and should investigate tools to help make virtual attendance at LITA events as robust as in-person attendance. But at least for right now, it isn’t the same. If we can’t bring you the hallway conversations and happy hour virtually, you’re missing out.

These are problems that we need to solve. And these are areas where I think it’s LITA’s duty to ALA and to the profession to lead the way. Perhaps we turn the problem on its head by making everything virtual first and then porting it back to the in-person events. Find ways to provide appropriate access for members, and look for reasonable opportunities to monetize quality virtual offerings. But we will have to solve these problems deliberately and systematically, because they bear directly on the health and future of the association. I would urge LITA members to engage with the full range of issues implicated here, and to resist the temptation to mistake the absence of an immediate solution for a lack of commitment to transparency.

What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?

I’ve been really impressed with the recent work of LITA’s Program Planning Committee. Abigail Goben and company have an incredible number of sessions coming up at Annual that LITA is co-sponsoring with other divisions and round tables. I’d like to see this trend continue, for LITA to position itself as a resource for the rest of ALA on tech topics.

This does get tricky though, and I wouldn’t want to sugar-coat it. At present, LITA’s operation is dependent on revenues not just from membership, but from events. In both of these areas, we’re often in effect competing with other divisions and professional organizations for the same shrinking pool of revenue. The most important issue we need to collaborate on with our peer organizations is growing that pool, and bringing greater coherence to the slate of organizations and professional development opportunities we offer.

Heck, I’d really like to see LITA collaborating with Code4Lib.


For more about Cody, see his LITA election page.

LITA Board of Directors candidates: Rachel Vacek

With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. I’ve asked the Director candidates to respond to these same questions. I hope this helps you make an informed decision among these outstanding candidates.

What is LITA?

To me, LITA is a community of innovators, leaders, technologists and liaisons to one another and those outside of the community. LITA is also an association, which means that people voluntarily come together with similar purposes to share an interest or activity. I believe that people join LITA because they want to learn something, help their colleagues and improve the library profession as a whole. They know that together they can make a difference and have greater impact than if they worked alone.

LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with
retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?

I believe that there are many additional things that can be done to support potential and current LITA members:

  1. Involve enthusiastic, active members who have already embraced
    LITA’s mission and values in making new members feel welcome. They
    are knowledgeable, involved and committed to LITA. Active members
    can serve as role models for new members as well as those who have
    watched from the sidelines. There could be a buddy system, a new
    member mentoring program, or even a phone call or simple letter of
    welcome from an active member to a new member. Making new members
    feel important at the onset of their joining LITA is critical.
  2. Recognize more frequently the outstanding contributions of LITA
    members, whether or not that work is directly associated with LITA. This recognition doesn’t have to be through formal award processes, but I’d like to see new models of sharing and appreciating the outstanding things we do for our profession and one another.
  3. Emphasize that a benefit to joining LITA is about expanding your network and circle of influence, and even having some fun while doing it. The LITA Happy Hour is a great example, and I’d like to see more programs that encourage networking, engaging others and having fun with like-minded individuals.
  4. Ask current and potential members their goals. I think the best way to get LITA members to commit is to get them to participate in activities that will further their goals and those of the profession. If we don’t know their goals, we can’t easily create additional meaningful and relevant training opportunities or events.

I believe that if current and future LITA members feel that they have learned both practical and innovative new things, if they are able to participate in workshops or events that meet their goals, if they have expanded their network, and if they feel connected to LITA more by engaging with active members, those LITA members will feel inspired to participate in new ways, will renew their membership and encourage others to join.

If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA Director, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?

If I have to choose one area, I would like to focus my effort in moving forward online programming and the communication about such opportunities. Since member retention is a challenge for LITA, providing more opportunities for member participation is key. LITA members could share their knowledge and experience in teaching a greater variety of workshops, webinars and other types of online programming than what is currently being offered. With additional online programs, pricing can also be more flexible for those in libraries with differing financial situations.

Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?

I think that utilizing technology to enable virtual attendance is both fantastic and crucial to LITA’s future. In order for people to feel engaged and connected with LITA, providing options for participation is essential whether face-to-face or virtual. I applaud LITA’s recent efforts to stream meetings, capture video and audio whenever possible and encourage participation. I’d like to see LITA become the leader and a role model in this area for other divisions within ALA.

What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?

Every division within ALA could benefit from collaborating with LITA on technology standards, best practices, and other technology recommendations. I would like to see LITA implement some sort of liaison program to each of the divisions and many of the committees and groups within those divisions as well as many of the ALA offices. One mutually beneficial partner could be the Learning Round Table which promotes continuing education, helps people network with other continuing education providers for the exchange of ideas, concerns and solutions, serves as a source and advocates for the continuation of education. For example, I’d like to see LITA participate in their Annual Training Showcase.


You can learn more about Rachel at her LITA election page.

LITA Presidential Candidate Interviews: Aaron Dobbs

With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. Here are Aaron Dobbs’ answers; please see also Cindi Trainor’s. I hope this helps you make an informed decision between these outstanding candidates.

1) What is LITA?

LITA is my Tribe. We are Librarians Innovating Technology
Awesomesauce. Well, so much for glib answers :)

More seriously, LITA is LITA members. We are all doing nifty things with technology.

As an Association, our IGs put on a boatload of conference programming, including:

  • “here’s cool stuff to try”
  • “attend this pre-conference and walk out with something implemented for your library”
  • “here’s the direction we see technology in libraries is heading”

Our committees manage the programs and focus efforts to produce worthwhile educational events and content. We coordinate or co-present a bunch of awards and scholarships and we are about educating and improving libraries and library services through technology.

–What is LITA?

LITA is where the technology users, super users, administrators, and creators mingle, keep tabs on each other, and throw around ideas for improving the library experience.

Long story short: LITA is you and the awesome stuff you do.

2) LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?

LITA has had its share of organizational challenges and we are making strides to present our efforts in a more modern wrapper; but that is not enough.

I want to radically open internal communications and push the bounds of ALA policy (which constrains and encompasses LITA policy). I will encourage interested-member participation in any conversation within LITA by pushing for posts which do not touch on issues of personal privacy (which is the main constraint applied by ALA policy) to be publicly available and pledge to follow up on discussion points raised but not satisfactorily addressed. I feel the membership *has* spoken, everything I have done on LITA Board has been informed by what I have heard from members.

When the membership speaks, LITA must listen and take appropriate action.

I invite all LITA members – past, present, and future – to let me know what you feel LITA can do for you. I will work to make it happen and I will get you into a space where you can work toward that goal with me.

3) If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA President, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?

Only one thing? I see two biggies, which I will list in order of priority:

Communication:

LITA has a plethora of communication channels – LITA-L, LITAblog, lita.org, ALA Connect, IG email lists, ad nauseam – each with their own strengths and weaknesses. LITA does not have one central channel which incorporates all these other channels; how do we each know what everyone else is doing?

We need to get our organizational communication house in order, provide member-customizable ways of taming the LITA-firehose, and get the word out about the great stuff we do.

Revenue generating programming:

Yes, I said it: “revenue generating.” LITA is currently one of the smaller ALA Divisions and we cannot (and should not!) balance the finances directly through member dues. Dues are plenty high enough already.

The LITA Program Planning Committee had a banner year for program proposals this year. Several of those selected for Annual (and several of those not selected too) have been suggested as high-demand programs that would appeal both to LITA members and to librarians and library staff at large. These programs could be presented outside a traditional face to face conference (such as Midwinter or Annual) with a relatively low overhead and low cost to attendees (with a suitable discount to LITA members). Other ALA Divisions do this regularly, LITA can too.

Communication, inviting member participation by open discussion, and revenue generating programs are LITA’s big needs in the short–term.

4) Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?

Technology has developed enough that physical collocation is no longer required for effective presentations, discussions, and decision-making. A few years back the LITA Electronic Participation Implementation Task Force worked up an cheat-sheet suggesting possible tools for various participation scenarios, which would need just a little updating to keep up with new tools available.
LITA IGs have already had virtual meetings with good results, see the ALA Connect space for the Mobile Computing IG Virtual Meeting at #alamw12.

This spring the LITA Board has been holding semi-monthly virtual meetings to get the governance business done, allowing time for tasks which are more appropriate to face to face meetings (from brainstorming to final tweaking).

Virtual is the now and the future, LITA should jump in with both feet and virtualize or hybridize everything which makes sense.

5) What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?

LITA has always been a collaborative Division. We have had MARBI (Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information) Joint committee which spans ALCTS, LITA, & RUSA for a long time. In the last few years LITA partnered with PLA to bring a public-library flavored Top Tech Trends session to the last PLA conference.

While I was on the OITP Advisory Committee, OITP requested a formal LITA representative on the advisory committee, which is now one of the liaison duties of the LITA Councilor. This tight formal relationship between LITA and the Office for Information Technology Policy at the Washington Office puts LITA right at the forefront of IT Policy monitoring and gives us a seat at the table when federal IT policy gets wonky.

What other collaborations might be appropriate?

I would team LITA up more closely with NMRT to keep our awareness of the skills new ALA members bring to the Association – and recruit those new members whose interests include using, adapting, and building technologies to support their library services. For the leadership-inclined, LITA could easily team up with LLAMA and co-sponsor a technology leadership series. On the assistive technologies front, LITA could team up with ASCLA to bring a broader awareness of specialized technologies and how they interplay with more “traditional” library technologies.

Technology is embedded all over ALA and its Divisions, LITA is uniquely positioned to inform and educate ALA members and interested library personnel on the strengths and challenges technology can provide people as they try to improve their libraries and library services.

***
For more information on Aaron, check out his Connect profile and his posts on LITAblog.

LITA Presidential Candidate Interviews: Cindi Trainor

With the help of some great LITA member input, I’ve put together a list of interview questions for the LITA President candidates in the upcoming ALA Election, March 19-April 27. Here are Cindi Trainor’s answers; please see also Aaron Dobbs’. I hope this helps you make an informed decision between these outstanding candidates.

1) What is LITA?

This question seems like it should have an obvious answer, but it can be elusive. LITA is a professional organization. LITA is a home for anyone who considers herself an advocate of technology in libraries. LITA is … what? At its heart, LITA is its members–all its members: people who are linked by an interest in or passion for technology in libraries, however they define it. This array of definitions is exactly what makes LITA hard to define. The bottom line is: as reflected in our long and shifting list of Interest Groupss, LITA is what we–the members–make it.

2) LITA has the best members anywhere, but it’s struggled with retention. How will you make the members feel supported by, and connected to, LITA?

Our membership data indicates that many ALA members join LITA but don’t stay. That says to me that we either piqued their interest with programming and lost them somewhere along the way, or LITA fell prey to “second division syndrome.” Last year’s data indicate that some 76% of LITA members are members of another ALA division. In tight economic times, we have to prove our value to members outside programming and publications that are open to all ALA members by being an engaging community centered around the technologies we use in our libraries. LITA’s Interest Group structure is a wonderful tool for this; as we say in LITA 201, “Don’t see it? Make it!”

3) If you could focus on one effort during your time as LITA President, what would that be? What one thing most needs your attention?

I want to continue to close the gap between LITA governance and membership by making all Board activities visible to members and by working toward systematic leadership training. Leadership skills learned in LITA translate directly into the workplace, and systematic transfer of these skills from our veteran leaders to our members-at-large has not happened. When we welcome members into leadership roles in our organization, we do not have the luxury of time to give them a year to learn the ropes. People stepping into leadership roles should be given clear guidelines and expectations for getting their (clearly defined) work accomplished. Concomitantly, members stepping into Committee and IG roles should also have clear expectations and should be able to see the path from Committee/IG member to chair to Board member, should they have an interest.

4) Given the current financial conditions, many LITA members are unable to travel to conferences. What are your views on the use of technology to enable virtual attendance to various LITA meetings and functions?

The reasons most often given for not offering virtual components to programming are economic. LITA is a small division, and as such doesn’t have extra funds available to contract with a company outside ALA, as other divisions have done. That said, there are myriad tools available, inside ALA and freely available on the Internet, that can be harnessed to do this. The key, again, is planning for this in a systematic and continual way, not the seat-of-our-pants way it’s been done in the past. Although LITA’s seat-of-our-pants nature is something I’m very proud of!

5) What new collaborative opportunities between LITA and other divisions or round tables would you like to see happen?

Collaborative opportunities abound, and I look forward to encouraging and pursuing them as LITA President. Technology is pervasive in our profession, and integral to getting our work done; partnerships could be made with most any division or round table. Joint Interest Groups are a great member-driven way to connect two Divisions and give these groups resources for meetings and programming at conferences. ALA Connect spaces for Joint IGs or for more informal Communities afford us the opportunity to collaborate between conferences. LITA members have played integral roles in ALA-level task forces, committees and work groups. Closing the gap between members and the board and providing members with systematic leadership training will insure that LITA members will continue to be the go-to tech people for ALA as well as its Divisions and Round Tables.

***

For more information on Cindi, check out her LITA Election page.

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: