Category Archives: Top Technology Trends

Information about technology trends affecting the library world, from the LITA committee of the same name. Includes posts by program speakers and others on the committee.

Top Tech Trends LiveBlog

Join us Sunday January 9, 2011 for the Top Technology Trends panel. The session will be live-blogged by TTT committee members; the live blog will also capture any messages posted to twitter with the hashtag #alamwttt.

You can also watch the video stream here.

LITA Top Tech Trends at Midwinter in San Diego

WHEN:
Sunday, January 9, 2011, 8 – 9:30am pacific time

WHERE:

  • San Diego Convention Center SDCC-Room 26 A/B
  • Here at litablog.org for live streaming and live blogging
  • Twitter #alamwttt

The illustrious panelists will be:

  • Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President and Chief Strategist, OCLC
  • Rachel Frick, Program Director, Digital Library Federation
  • Erik Mitchell, Assistant Director for Technology Services, Wake Forest University
  • Monique Sendze, Associate Director of Information Technology, Douglas County Libraries, Colorado
  • Jeffrey Trzeciak, University Librarian, McMaster University

Join us for a fun and casual discussion, moderated by Jason Vaughan, LITA Top Tech Trends Committee chair.

LITA Top Tech Trends ALA 2010

OPENING

Gregg Sylvis, Chair for the LITA Top Trends Committee kicked off the session.  Six panelists were  each to address current trends, imminent trends and long term trends (3-5 years out).

John Blyberg, Darien Library (CT), Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience

Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President OCLC Research and Chief Strategist, OCLC

Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Monique Sendze, IT Director Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kansas

Cindy Trainor, Coordinator for Library Technology and Data Services, Eastern Kentucky University

Joan Frye Williams, IT Consultant

CURRENT TRENDS

Blyberg discussed the new world of  “multilevel convergent media.”

  • With the explosion of new devices and communication channels, people are finding new ways to describe, explain, and interact with the world around them, and the boundaries between personal and professional domains have been blurring.
  • This has paved the way for a move to devices that are optimized across multiple applications to support diverse communication and information sharing needs.
  • Now it is becoming possible to reach a new point of synergy where the total impact across applications is becoming greater than the sum of its parts.  For example, writing a research paper is not a very good experience on the iPhone but the iPad will work well for this and across many other critical applications.

Dempsey called out some of the changes relating to mobile devices and their implications.

  • Much of the early development for mobile devices has related to the direct translation of the web applications to a mobile environment.Now there are opportunities to look at how services can be atomized and reconfigured.
  • The web experience can be tied to physical locations, as with the QR codes found at the ProQuest booth.
  • There is also the phenomenon of “microcoordination” or checking in to better manage space and logistical challenges.  For example, a quick call or IM can now be used to change the time or location of a personal or business meeting on the fly.

Griffey talked about how content is no longer tied to a container.

  • In the past, the container (book, journal, etc.) has defined how the information has been consumed and displayed.
  • Now we are starting to see “container sans interface.”  For example, users now expect the library catalog to look like Google, with less emphasis on the various types of information containers.
  • Use of iPad with touch screen does not focus the user on containers but just surfaces the information.
  • He feels that the touch screen is setting a new interface standard for browsing and exploring content, noting that after showing his iPad to his two-year-old daughter, she started to touch the screen of their TV expecting it to behave in the same way.

Sendze discussed the importance of libraries responding to the rapid evolution of mobile technologies in order to stay relevant to their users.

  • It is applications and software that make iPhone different from competing devices and this will also distinguish the iPad from its emerging competitors.
  • Libraries need to move aggressively into mobile applications and software as increasingly users will be coming to the library expecting to use their own devices rather than the library’s computers.

Trainor surfaced an increased emphasis user-driven collection development.

  • Libraries need to be more about getting people to things rather than owning them.
  • Many libraries were adding a complete set of MARC records from an ebook provider and then buying the books that they do not have in response to user demand.

Williams surfaced many of the changes that are being driven by the current economic environment.

  • Economic dislocations have been the genesis of a new creative economy.  There has been an explosion of everything from niche researchers  to pastry chefs.  Typically, these business startups are hyper-local and home based.
  • Libraries need to explore what can be done to create an optimal environment for these users. This is a significant change in mindset because being an incubator for these enterprises means supporting the messy, iterative activity that is needed to spark creativity.
  • Rather than focusing on serving up content, libraries need to focus on being the foundation for a creative process.  It is akin to moving from a grocery store to a kitchen mentality.

IMMINENT TRENDS

Williams talked about the blurring between object descriptions and the actual object.

  • There is a new practice called “fabbing” where 3D descriptions are facilitating the creation of the referenced object.  This means that the line is blurring between comprehensive information about a thing and the thing itself.
  • Librarians to find new ways manage recall and rights for 3D e-versions of things, because the  e-world of libraries is flatter than the real world is.
  • Librarians typically have not developed these types of design sensibilities needed to manage these e-objects effectively because the library world has traditionally been so text based.

Trainor called out the FaceBook privacy backlash and its implications.

  • Openness in terms of technology and ideas could be impacted as many people are being more thoughtful about sharing their personal information.
  • At the same time, there is an important piece of our cultural heritage that could be lost as it is not clear who if anyone would be in a position to preserve the rich tapestry of information that has been posted on Facebook.

Sendze talked about changes as more and more library technology infrastructure moves into the Cloud.

  • This change has the potential to be very disruptive.
  • It could significantly reduce library back room IT needs and it will likely mean that the IT function will need to be more embedded in the day-to-day work of library.

Griffey signaled the potential disruptive effects of low-cost e-Readers.

  • Citing recent price drops for the Kindle and the Nook , $99 eInk reading devices could be a possibility in the upcoming holiday season.
  • Low-cost or even disposable devices could ultimately be married with ebook content that is freely available on the web.

Dempsey talked about how new discovery layers are helping libraries to overcome the fragmentation of library resources.

  • Users appreciate a Google-like single search box and faceted results, and they typically perceive that everything in the collection has been surfaced, while there are generally opportunities to expand elements of the collection that are made available in this fashion.
  • There are also many other opportunities to surface content outside of the library collection such as Google Scholar and Google Books.
  • A third dimension is surfacing resources not in the current collection that could be made available through Patron-driven ILL or on-demand purchasing.

Blyberg used Seth Godin’s term “the dip” to stage his prediction of new struggles with open source software.

  • He indicated that many open source library projects were hitting a point where success reaches a plateau and progress gets harder and harder to achieve.
  • Funding is one issue since library budgets are under significant stress and while grants have often provided for startup costs, they are typically not funding ongoing costs.
  • Also, he indicated that open source solutions have in many cases failed to keep pace with the features and functionality offered by commercial vendors.

LONG TERM TRENDS

Griffey singled out 4G cellular infrastructure and its power to transform mobile applications.

  • With speeds of 100 Megabits per second, it will provide ethernet capacity in your pocket.
  • He talked about a new small rapid scanner developed in Japan that could ultimately allow quick scanning and OCR of Encyclopedia Brittanica or Oxford English Dictionary by a mobile device.
  • Libraries will need to be prepared for these types of technology shifts in order to manage implications for library services and copyright.

Sendze anticipates an acceleration of profiling and the death of Internet anonymity.

  • Users are freely giving over their personal information to search engines and these commercial providers are doing profiling and predictive analysis.
  • Libraries are still focused on protecting user privacy, despite the fact that lots of data is now available that can be used to enhance the experience of their users.
  • Users likely trust libraries to safeguard their personal information a lot more than they do commercial vendors and users will likely be open to their personal information being used to anticipate needs and to enhance their experience with the library.

Trainor predicted that ultimately physical copy scarcity would be gone.

  • As the abundance of information continues to grow, scarcity is manifesting itself in new areas such as bandwidth.  Libraries should be helping to bridge these gaps for the benefit of all their users and society at large.
  • In the end, it will also be up to libraries to add value in new ways rather than just securing content.  As an example, changes will be needed in library instruction when the only service point is the web and users are getting most of the resources they need for free.

Williams drew a comparison between the information industry and the energy industry.

  • Similarities stem from the relationship between the suppliers and their customers in both sectors.
  • Libraries are acting like niche green technology companies that are blazing down a new path, often propelled by grant funding. They are committed to building their own “information ecosystem” that is self-contained and pure and free from contaminants, like a locally-owned, socially conscious information utility.
  • Resource and technology challenges abound and it is difficult to sustain investments in technology infrastructure for the long term.
  • One potential impact could be an epidemic of “dataspills” that involves sensitive or personal information and potentially even crackdowns by the government.

Blyberg discussed the future transformations that are being driven by current economic pressures.

  • Current economic pressures have brought a “come to Jesus moment” for all libraries.
  • Many libraries have had to admit that they have very inefficient backend processes where significant benefits can be achieved through automation and process improvements.
  • Libraries are discovering that they can still be true to what it means to be a library while sharpening their focus on transforming the user experience.

Dempsey called for a shift for libraries from managing supply to managing demand.

  • He talked about the complex suite of systems and relationships for supplying information that are driving overhead and keeping libraries from focusing more of their energies on the user experience.
  • Greater focus will be needed on the demand side such as helping users rank, relate, or recommend items.
  • Embedding  resources in research environments and courseware  and building community around library resources will also derive significant benefits by integrating library resources into user workflows.
  • Libraries also need to focus on sparking indirect discovery through surfacing Google material, curation and management of institutional outputs (IRs, etc), and search engine optimization.
  • Only with continued focus on the demand side can libraries get to the ultimate desired state – where the mission of the library has become helping users to manage their own library.

Top Tech Trends at PLA National Conference

LITA is headed to the 2010 PLA National Conference in Portland, OR for a Top Tech Trends panel focused on public libraries. Panelists include David Lee King, Michael Porter, Monique Sendze, and Kate Sheehan.

LITA’s Top Tech Trends session will also be part of PLA’s Virtual Conference, consisting of live programming chosen from among the highest rated in PLA’s session preference survey. The Virtual Conference will feature panel discussions, author interviews, interactive workshops, and chats with colleagues, all from the comfort of your computer.

  • Check out the LITA web site for information on LITA Happy Hour and Exhibit Booth hours at PLA.
  • Visit the PLA Conference site for more information and registration.

Live coverage of the Top Tech Trends MW 2010 Discussion

Update: did you listen, watch, read or attend? Give us your feedback!

1/24/10 update – Alas, we did not manage to capture the audio, as we had intended, but you can read an abridged summary of the conversation and see all the links shared during the session thanks to one of our committee members. The live blog, comments, and tweets tagged #alamwttt can be viewed below.

Join the LITA Top Technology Trends Committee on Sunday, January 17, 2010, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. E.S.T. for a lively discussion of top technology trends in librarianship, with panelists Amanda Etches-Johnson, Jason Griffey, Joe Murphy, Lauren Pressley, and David Walker. The discussion will be moderated by Gregg Silvis.

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Will you be in Boston? Join us in person: Boston Convention Center (BCEC-162A/B).

LITA Top Tech Trends at Midwinter in Boston

It’s that time again, folks; the semi-annual Top Technology Trends conversation is upon us. This year’s midwinter has us enjoying the history and chill of Boston, but like the last midwinter Top Tech discussion in Denver, you can participate from the warmth of your living room or from wherever you may be, a week from this Sunday.

WHERE: Boston Convention Center (BCEC-162A/B), here at litablog.org, from ustream.tv, or via Twitter (#alamwttt) links to follow soon!
WHEN: Sunday, January 17, 2010, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. E.S.T.

The start of the second decade of the century starts with five Trendsters who are new to the Top Tech Table:

Amanda Etches-Johnson, User Experience Librarian at McMaster University
Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Yale University
Lauren Pressley, Instructional Design Librarian, Wake Forest University
David Walker, Web Services Librarian, California State University System

Join us for a fun and casual discussion, moderated by Gregg Silvis, LITA Top Tech Trends Committee chair.

Marshall’s Top Tech Trends for ALA Annual, Summer 2009

These trends are also posted on Library Technology Guides.

Discovery Interfaces Expand Scope

The genre of Discovery Interfaces has been an ongoing trend for the last few years. These interfaces aim to replace the traditional, stodgy OPAC with a modern interface, delivering library content through an interface more consistent with what patrons experience elsewhere on the Web. They offer visually appealing design, relevancy ranking, faceted navigation, and other standard Web navigation techniques. These products offer an attractive replacement for the online catalogs delivered with the ILS.

The initial phase of this genre of products delivered a new interface. Yet, they remained largely tied to the content managed in the ILS, despite the ever increasing investments in electronic content. In many cases, a federated search component would aim to supplement the primarily print content of the ILS with a clumsy mechanism for accessing e-journals and database.

We’re now seeing a new wave of discovery products that deliver pre-populated indexes of e-journal content, providing access to the individual articles represented in the library’s body of subscriptions on equal footing with the print materials managed within the ILS. Products in this genre include Summon from Serials Solutions, WorldCat Local from OCLC, EBSCO Discovery Service, and Primo Central.

The technology for a new-generation library interface with Google and Amazon-like features has become increasingly commonplace. Every library automation vendor offers one – Innovative Interfaces’ Encore, Ex Libris’ Primo, AquaBrowser now owned by R.R. Bowker, LS2 PAC from The Library Corporation, VTLS Visualizer, SirsiDynix Enterprise etc, and open source versions prosper as well: VuFind and Blacklight. Open source components such as Apache Lucene and SOLR, make the construction of a modern interface less of a technical feat.

Today, it’s the scope of content addressed that differentiates discovery interfaces. It’s now within reach to produce discovery interfaces that address the full breadth of a library’s collection through a single consolidated index, spanning print, articles within e-journals, and each of the individual objects within the digital collections, institutional repositories.

The major change that enables this breakthrough involves a relenting of the stranglehold of publishers and providers of content. Until recently, few were willing to allow wholesale access to the content held within their information products. That left the primary means of discovery outside their native interfaces the far-from-elegant approach of metasearch that incessantly hammered their servers with a very low possibility of connecting a user to their content. The new paradigm of pre-populated indexes involves the risk of wholesale exposure of their key assets, yet stands to increase the use of their products through a more efficient search model.

Social networking powers library discovery

Web 2.0 concepts have been churning in the library technology space for half a decade, but have yet to become part of the core infrastructure that power libraries. Tags, ratings, and reviews have been an expected feature in new discovery interfaces, but have yet to make a substantial impact on the way that patrons interact with library collections.

Library Thing for Libraries and ChiliFresh have become popular add-ins to help existing library catalogs and discovery interfaces add a measure of user-generated content.

BiblioCommons aims to bring social networking into the patron’s basic experience of the library. An interesting new approach to discovery interfaces, BiblioCommons brings user-generated content, social interactions among library patrons, and other Web 2.0 concepts into the process of selecting reading materials. Following a longish period of development, a dozen or so libraries expect to launch BiblioCommons catalogs by the end of the year.

I anticipate that social networking components will increasingly become embedded into the inner fabric of library products and not merely add-ons and afterthoughts.

These interesting products have yet to displace the legacy catalog. Despite a plethora of products available to replace them with more modern interfaces, the vast majority of libraries continue to offer vintage OPACs. Even in the best of times, the replacement cycles of automation products in libraries turn extremely slowly.

The demise of the single-library ILS

In today’s environment of highly-scalable computer platforms and increased interest in resource sharing, the concept of each library operating its own ILS becomes less defensible. We’re seeing a trend toward larger-scale implementations that serve many libraries:

  • Vendor-hosted Software-as-a-service offerings that aggregate many instances of their products.
  • Consortial, Regional and state-wide implementations that aggregate many libraries into a single instance of an ILS platform.
  • OCLC’s WorldCat Local cooperative library system that aims to provide a global platform for library automation to its member libraries.

Web Services and SOA advance

Development of technology products for libraries increasingly embraces SOA or at least offers legacy functionality through Web services. Projects such as the Mellon-funded OLE Project and Ex Libris URM aim to build new frameworks for library automation through a service-oriented architecture. Existing products increasingly use Web services to provide access to internal functionality and data. Today’s environment that fully embraces the concept of openness and holds distain for closed systems. Open source, open APIs, and open access content continue to advance into the mainstream of library technology.

Top Tech Trends for ALA Annual, Summer 2009

This is a list of Top Tech Trends for the ALA Annual Meeting, Summer 2009.

Green computing

The amount of computing that gets done on our planet has a measurable carbon footprint, and many of us, myself included, do not know exactly how much heat our computers put off and how much energy they consume. With the help from some folks from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing, I learned my laptop computer spikes at 30 watts on boot, slows down to 20 watts during normal use, idles at 2 watts during sleep, and zooms up to 34 watts when the screen saver kicks in. Just think how much energy and heat your computer consumes and generates while waiting for the nightly update from your systems department. But realistically, it is our servers that make the biggest impact, and while energy consumption is one way to be more green, another is to figure out ways to harness the heat the computers generate. One trend is to put computers in places that need to be heated up, like green houses in the winter. Another idea is to put them in places where cool air is exhausted, like building ventilation ducks. What can you do? Turn your computer off when it is not in use since the computer electronics and such are not as sensitive to power on, power off cycles as they used to be.

“Digital Humanities”

There seems to be a growing number of humanities scholars who understand that computers can be applied to their research. See the Digital Humanities Manifesto as an example. With the advent of all the electronic texts being made available, it is not possible to read each and every text individually. In an effort to analyze large copra more quickly, people can create word clouds against these documents to summarize them. They can extract the statistically significant words and phrases to determine their “aboutness”. They can easily compute Fog, Flesch, and Flesch-Kincaid scores denoting the complexity of documents. (“Remember, ‘Why Johnny can’t read’?”) These people understand that humanities scholarship is not necessarily done in isolation, and the codex is not necessarily the medium of the day. They understand the advantages of open access publishing. For our profession, it is difficult to overstate the number of opportunities this trend affords librarianship. Anybody can find information. What people need now are tools to make information easier to analyze and use.

Tweeting with Twitter

Microblogging (think Twitter) is definitely hot. In some situations it can be a really useful application of computer technology. Frankly, I think the fascination will wear off and its functionality will become similar to the use of cellphone photographs at news-breaking events. Tweet, tweet, tweet.

Discovery interfaces and mega-indexes

If I were to pick the hottest trend in library technology, it would be fledgling implementation of large, all-encompassing indexes of journal and book content — integrating mega-indexes into the “discovery” interface. This is exemplified by Serials Solutions’ Summa, hinted at by an OCLC/EBSCO collaboration, and thought about by other library vendors. Google Scholar comes close but could benefit by adding more complete bibliographic data of books. OAIster worked for OAI-accessible content but needed to be indexed with a less proprietary tool. The folks at Index Data created something similar and included additional content, but the idea never seemed to catch on. Federated (broadcast) search tried and has yet to fulfill the promise. The driver behind this idea is the knowledge that many data silos don’t meet the needs of our users. Instead people want one box, one button, and one data set. Combine journal bibliographic data with book bibliographic data into a single index (not database). Sort search results by relevance. Provide a set of time-saving services against the result. In order for this technological technique to work each data set must be normalized into a single data structure and indexed (probably with an open source indexer called Lucene). In other words, there will be a large set of core elements such a title, author, note, subject, etc. All bibliographic data from all sets will be mapped to these fields and what doesn’t fall neatly into any one of them will be mapped to free text fields. Not perfect, not 100 percent, but hugely functional, and it meets user’s expectations. To see how this can be done with the volumes and volumes of medically-related open access content see the good work done by OpenPHIand their HealthLibrarian.