As we reflect on 2014-2015, it’s fair to say that LITA, despite some financial challenges, has had numerous successes and remains a thriving organization. Three areas – membership, education, and publications – bring in the most revenue for LITA. Of those, membership is the largest money generator. However, membership has been on a decline, a trend that’s been seen across the American Library Association (ALA) for the past decade. In response, the Board, committees, interest groups, and many and individuals have been focused on improving the member experience to retain current members and attract potential ones. With all the changes to the organization and leadership, LITA is on the road to becoming profitable again and will remain one of ALA’s most impactful divisions.
Librarians are great at making rules. Maybe it’s in our blood or maybe it’s the nature of public service. Whatever it is, creating rules comes naturally to many of us. But don’t worry, this isn’t a post about how to make the rules, it’s about how to avoid them.
We recently introduced a new digital media space at the Robert Morgade Library in Stuart, Florida. The idea lab includes tablets, laptops, and cameras that can be checked out; a flexible space that encourages collaboration; tech classes that go beyond our traditional computer classes; as well as three iMac computers and a flight simulator. With all this technology, you would expect to find people lining up, but we’ve actually noticed that our patrons seem intimidated by these new tools. In 2012 the first idea lab opened at the Peter & Julie Cummings Library, but the idea of a digital media lab at the library is still a relatively new service for our community. In order to welcome all of our patrons to the idea lab, we’ve lessened the barriers to access by having as few rules as possible. Here are a few of the risks we’ve taken.
One of our biggest changes was reducing the amount of paperwork involved in checking out equipment. The original procedure called for a library card, picture ID, and a double-sided form in order to check out something as small as a pair of headphones. Now we offer an idea lab borrower’s card. Signing up for an idea lab card is as easy as signing up for a regular library card. The only additional requirement is a one-time signature on a simple form where patrons accept responsibility for any equipment that they destroy. After the initial registration, all the patron needs is their idea lab card from that point forward. The result is less paperwork, less staff time, and more use.
The flight simulator has been a completely new venture for the library and we’ve encountered a lot of unknowns in terms of policies and access, such as: Is there an age requirement? Should patrons have to complete a training session in order to use it? Do you need a library card? We looked to other libraries to see how to regulate this new service, but ultimately decided to start with as few barriers as possible. As it stands, anyone can walk up and try out the flight simulator. You don’t need a card, you don’t need a reservation, and you don’t need any previous experience or training. It’s been a month since our grand opening, with no fatal injuries or broken equipment, just a lot of people crashing and burning (only digitally, of course).
We took another risk by choosing not to use Envisionware’s PC Reservation system for our iMac computers. The 20 public PC workstations at Morgade use PC Res and are generally booked, but we knew that our patrons would be hesitant to sit down at a Mac for the first time. Instead we opted for a low-tech solution: labels that read “Multimedia Priority Workstation.” We welcome anyone to try our iMacs, with the understanding that video editing trumps checking your email. I actually stole this idea from my alma mater. I figured if college freshman could handle it, the general public probably could too.
We’re incredibly lucky to be offering these services to our community and always looking for better ways to share and teach technology. Over time we might have to step back and make some rules, but for now we’re in a good place. If your library is considering offering similar services, I highly recommend starting with as few rules as possible. And I can’t wrap this up without acknowledging my supervisor, who has helped create an environment where it’s okay to challenge the rules. I hope that you have like-minded folks on your team as well.
LITA Committees and Interest Groups will be holding timely and vibrant discussions on topics such as linked data, drupal, games, coding, data-driven decision making, open source projects, user experience, library technology projects and more. Check out the Sessions web page as well as the LITA specific Conference Scheduler for more details.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Don’t miss the Top Technology Trends Discussion Session 10:30 am – 11:30 am McCormick Place West, W183a. The conference panelists and their suggested trends will include:
Moderator: Karen Schneider
Marshall Breeding, Independent Consultant – Empowering underserved libraries through technology; discovery beyond the library.
Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of NISO – Infrastructure demands of a growing or majority OA ecosystem; balancing patron privacy and using data to improve services.
Casey McCoy, Program Coordinator at Lincolnwood Public Library District – Tech programming for youth, esp. girls; app-based home technology.
Willie Miller, Librarian at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis – Gamification; e-course packs.
Carli Spina, Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian at Harvard Law School Library – Universal design; beacons.
The LITA Open House from 4:30-5:30 pm McCormick Place West, W470b is an opportunity for current and prospective members to talk with Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) leaders, committee chairs, and interest group participants.
LITA Happy Hour will be 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub 400 N McClurg Court Chicago, IL 60611. Located 1 block east of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers 301 East North Water Street, Chicago, IL. Join LITA members from around the country for networking, good cheer, and great fun! Expect lively conversation and excellent drinks. Cash Bar. Bring your ALAMW conference badge to receive a 25% discount.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Attend the LITA Town Meeting from 8:30 am – 10:00 am McCormick Place West, W180 and join your fellow LITA members for breakfast and a discussion about LITA’s strategic path. The meeting will focus on how LITA’s goals–collaboration and networking; education and sharing of expertise; advocacy; and infrastructure–help our organization serve you and the broader library community. This Town Meeting will help us turn those goals into plans that will guide LITA going forward.
What technology are you watching on the horizon? Have you seen brilliant ideas that need exposing? Do you really like sharing with your LITA colleagues?
The LITA Top Tech Trends Committee is trying a new process this year and issuing a Call for Panelists. Answer the short questionnaire by 12/10 to be considered. Fresh faces and diverse panelists are especially encouraged to respond. Past presentations can be viewed at http://www.ala.org/lita/ttt.
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
Hashtag: #alaac14, plus some special event ones listed below.
Please mark your calendars and join us at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 30th, beginning at 1pm, for Sunday Afternoon with LITA! We will start off the day with the LITA awards and scholarships presentation followed by our Top Tech Trends program, moderated by Lorcan Dempsey. Then join us for the LITA President’s Program with Cory Doctorow, and finally, wrap up the day with the LITA Happy Hour at 5:30 at Fado Irish Pub!
TOP TECHNOLOGY TRENDS & LITA AWARDS PRESENTATION
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm McCormick Place Convention Center S105a-c Panelists: Char Booth, Aimee Fifarek, Sarah Houghton, Brewster Kahle, Clifford Lynch, Gary Price Moderator: Lorcan Dempsey
Presentation of LITA Awards and Scholarships will take place at 1pm, then join the Top Tech Trends panel from 1:30-2:30, for a conversation about trends and opportunities in libraries. Lorcan Dempsey will moderate the following trendsters from across library communities and areas: Char Booth, Sarah Houghton, Gary Price, Aimee Fifarek, and Clifford Lynch.
MORE THAN A BOOK-LINED INTERNET CAFE: LITA PRESIDENT’S PROGRAM
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm McCormick Place Convention Center S105a-c Speaker: Cory Doctorow
LITA President Zoe Stewart-Marshall welcomes digital rights activist, science fiction writer and Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. This lively, thought-provoking talk will look at how libraries can and do stand on the front lines of the debate over the role of free information, and free information technology in ensuring the healthy maintenance of a free society. And yes, he will talk about DRM.
LITA HAPPY HOUR
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm Location: Fado Irish Pub, 100 West Grand Avenue (312) 836-0066
Please join the LITA Membership Development Committee and members from around the country for networking, good cheer, and great fun! Expect lively conversation and excellent drinks; cash bar.
Below will be the live stream for the LITA Top Tech Trends panel at ALA Midwinter 2013 in Seattle, WA! We’ll be live at 10:30am Pacific Time, and after the show will embed the recording here as well. Enjoy!
Top Tech Trends returns for ALA Annual Anaheim, along with the LITA President’s Program, Tony Hey from Microsoft Research delivering “The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Research, Digital Scholarship and Implications for Libraries”. We are broadcasting live all afternoon:
The LITA Top Technology Trends panel discussion at ALA Midwinter in Dallas took place on Sunday, January 22, 2012. This year’s panel of technology experts was a combination of veteran and new faces: Stephen Abram, Gale Cengage Learning , Marshall Breeding, Vanderbilt University Library , Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC , Nina McHale, Arapahoe Library District, Colorado and Sue Polanka, Wright State University Libraries
Each trendster came prepared to discuss two technology trends of their choice. During Round One, the issues presented were:
frictionless access – smartphone technology that provides unfettered access to services without user interaction (Stephen Abram)
advent of “enterprise IT staff” for libraries – bringing in professional programmers rather than librarians who like programming (Nina McHale)
impending demise of the ILS (Marshall Breeding)
trend toward self-service (Sue Polanka)
rise of personal institutional curation services (Lorcan Demsey)
Round Two topics were:
on-demand tipping point– libraries offering a hybrid model to provide the physical experience for users (Stephen Abrams)
web analytics (Nina McHale)
reintegration of discovery with the backend systems (Marshall Breeding)
technologies that take instruction in a different direction, e.g. touch screens (Sue Polanka)
platform wars in consumer space and the implication for libraries (Lorcan Demsey)
The session was well attended with time allotted in each round for audience comments and questions. The session was also streamed live so that those unable to be there could participate virtually; the recording can be viewed on LITA’s USTREAM channel.