Tag Archives: technology

Libraries of the future

The following visualization was adapted from PewInternet.com, of a keynote address for the 2013 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference.

librarians of the future


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Open Access

open accessThe French newspaper Le Monde has just published a public statement, signed by sixty members of the academic community (presidents of universities, librarians, journals publishers and researchers) under the title “Who is afraid of open access ?” (see the original paper here :
http://www.lemonde.fr/sciences/article/2013/03/15/qui-a-peur-de-l-open-acces_1848930_1650684.html). It is now available in English : http://iloveopenaccess.org/arguments-for-open-access/

More than 1600 people already signed this statement, calling for open
access as fast as possible and asking for HSS taking leadership in this
direction.  You can sign it : http://iloveopenaccess.org/?page_id=329

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Reading McLuhan – food for thought

I am soaking Marsahall McLuhan once again….  This great visionary and humanist to the core discerned that the modern industrial world derives its unity from technological imperatives rather than from nature or human instincts.  He argued back in the sixties that in the approaching electronic world, media and methods will replace philosophical inquiry into both natural and mechanical worlds;  and that the media of communication will replace the means of production.  As a result, humans will move from the age of industry where the means dominated to the age of information where the media dominate to the point that humans may loose control over them.  Here is how he puts it incisively:

The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.  It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.  Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighbourhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others”.  And they are changing dramatically. […] Radical changes in identity, happening suddenly and in very brief intervals of time, have proved more deadly and destructive to human values than wars fought with hardware weapons.”

-Marshall McLuchan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Message (1967)

…. and here is the Master lecturing….


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Social Media as Teaching and Learning Tools


An interesting comment by Eric Stroller from “Inside Higher Ed

by: Eric Stroller

Social media increases student engagement. How do I know this? Well, let’s try an analogy. Let’s say that you are a carpenter in the early 1900s. You have a certain toolkit that you use to go about your work. You build houses with said toolkit. Now, let’s hop in a DeLorean to 2012. Carpentry is a totally different gig. The tools have changed…a lot. Big box stores provide ample selections of tools and all sorts of gadgets. Carpentry has evolved, in part, because the tools have made increases in efficiencies possible. In the sense that Student Affairs practitioners are like carpenters – instead of building houses – we build community, increase student engagement, and foster opportunities for student development. The work has evolved over time and so have our tools. Social media provide a great set of channels for communications and engagement. However, here’s the caveat: Social Media are only as good as we make them. The tools themselves do not build houses nor do they increase student engagement. We do. Practitioners actively create structures that enhance engagement.

If there is a “secret sauce” for using social media to increase student engagement, it’s staring back at us in the mirror. Student Affairs professionals have worked earnestly for decades to increase, foster, and contribute to student engagement. Having access to the latest (and greatest) communications tools gives us the capability to further the reach of our endeavors. Social media add to our toolkits in educationally relevant ways as long as we are purposeful and strategic about its use. People are not carpenters simply because of access to tools. Carpentry is a profession, and similarly, so is Student Affairs. It’s an exciting time to be in Student Affairs. We have communications channels like social media and mobile devices that enable us to connect with our students.

Can social media increase and/or contribute to student engagement? Absolutely. However, this only occurs if you are at the helm and actively using the tools in ways that contribute to educationally purposeful activities.

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The digital divide argument

      I was going to meet  my daughter  for a cup of coffee  at Tim Horton’s on on my  lunch break.  I was late because, unexpectedly,  at the last minute, I had to assist a frustrated patron trying to check the Internet with his laptop at our library.
        The academic  library where I work does  not offer wifi access to anyone but the university students  and it takes anywhere between 5-10 minutes for a person walking into our library to play with the wires attached to the registration computer before they can scan their ID and get a daily pass that allows them to access the Internet on one of two computer stations that are open to the public.  Trying to get the computer pass is always a frustrating experience.  After several years of assisting people with using this machine, I still have no clue what is the best way to scan the personal ID, so it would cooperate and issue the pass.
       When I was paying for my coffee at the counter at Tim’s,  I spotted the sign advertising free Internet access.   They partnered with Bell to do it in order to bring in more customers and level with competitors, such as Second Cup, that already offer wifi.   I should have sent my patron to Tim Hortons …  Yes, they would get the Internet access quickly there and it is a 5 minute walk  from my library… They could get a cup of coffee too…. They could search the Internet and drink coffee in a public space…  My patron would do better at Tim’s… and they should, and justly so, be called Tim Horton’s patrons, not mine….
      Most libraries would not allow people bring Tim Horton’s coffee into the library,  nor would they allow a coffee shop inside the library….  At the same time, libraries claim to be the institutions that help to close the digital divide by providing the Internet access to those who cannot afford it.   Coffee shops are closing it while we use this argument and develop our collections….

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Library Services on the Go

With the arrival of smart phones, phone became an integral part of our lives. Not only do we carry our phones with us wherever we go, but  we are also using them for almost everything.   We started using phone for voice communication exclusively, and now  we are  using it for playing games, watching movies, browsing the Internet, hanging out with friends on social networks, getting updated with the news, banking needs, and increasingly, as the first (and often only) step for looking up any information we need.

For the first time in history, libraries are serving people who have access to all the information they could ever want in the palm of their hand.  Unlike the previous generation, which didn’t mind waiting to get their information when they got home, or the generations before that were patient enough to wait until they made it to the library, the mobile generation wants their information on the go.

There are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications for the iPhone and Android is not far behind.  Xcube Labs Mobile App Development Firm came up with a very informative infographic to explain usage patterns of smart phone apps.

It is alarming however, that there are very few apps build for libraries and very few libraries that have mobile websites.  Yet, it is obvious that if we are to remain in the information business, we have to be present in the media through which people are looking for information.

While fully mobile websites are complicated to build, some libraries we are using QR codes to bridge their physical and online collections.   I am currently working on a project at my library where we use QR codes to point our patrons to online resources that replaced or duplicate our physical holdings.  This is much less than building a mobile website, but by doing so we are helping our patrons to locate relevant online information quickly and are introducing QR technology to some of them.  More about it in my next post…


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Library Services on a Shoestring with Yahoo!Pipes

I have been silent for the last few weeks preparing for the 2012 TRY (Toronto Ryerson York) staff conference that takes place tomorrow, May 8th, 2012.   One of my  presentations is a poster session on using Yahoo!Pipes as a cheap (free!) way to enhance library services.  Some of  you may be interested in this   innovative cloud-hosted new service which allows librarians to produce, publish and share web services for free and without ever having to write a line of code.  Please see attached the pages that combined make the poster session.

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The theme of this year’s conference is: Re-defining Library Services in the Digital Age.   There are many interesting sessions at the conference – please see the conference website for more details: –  http://www.library.utoronto.ca/event/staffconference/2012/conferenceSchedule.html.  I  will be delivering one  of the sessions as well and will report on that tomorrow …. For now, I only have the Yahoo!Pipes poster ready. ….

Also, my apologies for not responding to comments & e-mails – will catch up on that after the presentation tomorrow…

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