Top Tech Trends: The Trends

Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
(This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

With a little bit of time left after the business meeting, the discussion moved to the juicer topic: Top Technology Trends. Here’s a quick overview of what was discussed:

1. It’s nice to experiment with high tech, but low tech can be good, too. Simple answers are good. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. (Okay, that really came from the discussion of the event, but it played into some of the TTT discussion as well.)

2. Is the promise of FRBR going to flesh out? Are we going to start seeing it for our libraries soon? The discussion pointed out that FRBR assumes that records have been prepared for FRBR. OCLC does have an algorithm that approximates that for the database, but cataloging would still need to be done differently to take advantage of FRBR. The Trendsters discussed how librarians often make things complex that are simple. For example, we were using expensive chat software when all we needed was IM.

Andrew Pace said that one of his maxims is, “never change data to fix what’s a display problem.” He suggested using an algorithm to fix the display problem; there’s no need to change the data. Tom Wilson said that his proverb is, “sometimes you don’t have the time to wait until there’s consensus for how to do things and a product comes along.” One of the problems is that we always assume that the library community needs to invent items for the library community. But really, there are other industries that create some things that do what we’re looking for in the library catalog. If we look into these other options we can save limited resources. He used Endeca as an example of that. It’s not a library technology; it’s technology that is being used for library purposes.

3. How can we make it easier to get materials to users? People are looking for simplest way to do things, why should we fight that reality? The discussion around this topic centered on InterLibrary Loan. Why not shorten the trajectory? Maybe we could set up ILL for users straight from WorldCat. ILL costs are going up right now, some express concern that this step would make it more expensive. The group discussed the trend to buy less and borrow more, but some asked why not have ILL act more like circulation? Collection management from different libraries could work together to develop collections across campuses or systems to facilitate ILL and save costs of cataloging, shelf space, etc. However, it was also pointed out that some studies have compared costs of ILL to running down the street to buy extra copies of the latest best seller and found that ILL might not always save money. A few libraries have started a direct to buy program. If someone wants something on ILL, and it meets a certain number of criteria, they just buy the book and lend it out.

4. It’s not a trend so much, but there was a discussion of taking the user’s cost into consideration as well. The user pays in time. We force them to wait for ILL or to learn library lingo. How come we don’t just ask them what they need and when and we figure out how to get it to them in the most cost-effective way? The user shouldn’t need to know there’s an ILL department, just that they can get books. They shouldn’t need to know the vendor of a database; they should just be able to get useful articles. People start with Google and find things that are already paid for by their library. How can we fit into how people work? Another strand of this is that we won’t get everyone into the library for library instruction when their cultural context tells them to go online; we need to make finding information online easier.

5. Other ideas were mentioned in brief:

  • considering using web services for micropayments
  • building more services on top of the existing digital collections
  • xml web services
  • mentioned in both halves of the meeting: the trend of users in the participatory web and how blogs, chat, etc. are good for that