Sarah Houghton's Top Technology Trends

I won’t be at ALA, but I’ll note three trends I see in full force:

Returning Power Over Content to Those with the Knowledge
Eric Lease Morgan touched on this in his second trend about blogs and wiki websites becoming the norm rather than the exception. My twist is this: people who have the knowledge will once again be in control of the content. Until recently, most websites (library and otherwise) have fallen victim to the camel through the eye of a needle problem: only the webmasters can post the content, and sometimes such insufficient and incoherent content is given to them, that they end up creating much of the content themselves. Library staff, largely librarians, are responsible for the collections, programming, and services in our libraries–the content. The same should be true with websites. With WYSIWYG interfaces with blogs and wikis, those knowledgeable people can once again be in control of the information their users see. Webmasters can re-focus on how they see and find it, instead of the content itself.

I’m not sure if this is a trend, but it’s a prediction–and one worth watching. With their recent (and not without controversy or concern) merger with RLG, OCLC is positioning itself to tap some of the excellent resources RLG offers, including RedLightGreen–one of the ILS interfaces people point to again and again as an example of “what could be” in a greener more beautiful library world. Fully FRBR-ized and simply-keyword-search-oriented, an OCLC-ized RedLightGreen could potentially solve the wealth of ILS-dissatisfaction we all seem to be feeling right now.

Online Outreach
This will be the subject of a presentation I give at a conference later this year, but let’s touch on it now. Libraries have long been bad at publicizing ourselves, but I’ve seen us slowly getting better at it in recent years–in the physical world, that is. We still stink at outreach and PR in the virtual world. A few libraries are doing it well, and I think more will begin to as they start to think of their web presence as a true branch. Let’s rent some adspace on community websites, put ourselves in Wikipedia, make our libraries findable on the Web in places our users already are, put stuff on Craigslist, etc.