Recent Events

The Next Big Thing

Susan Considine, Executive Director, Fayetteville NY Public Library, and Ben Bizzle, Director of Technology, Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library

Susan Considine, Executive Director, Fayetteville NY Public Library, and Ben Bizzle, Director of Technology, Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library

Sue began by saying that everyone has the capacity to think about innovation. Why are we not innovating? What are the barriers? Funding? Lack of admin support? Lack of community awareness of what the library has to offer? Our staff?

We need to develop more flexible models in staffing and challenge our assumptions about what libraries do in our community. Our staff impacts everything. If they don’t have the tools they need, they cannot innovate. Create a culture where risk taking and mistakes are acceptable.

Ben followed by saying that the more we learn about libraries, the more we realize what we don’t know. We have moved past an opportunity for an evolutionary process and migration into a technological age. We have wasted time fighting this, so now we are faced with a revolution. We are not meeting the needs of our communities and have not learned how to market ourselves.

We still have a role to play in people’s lives, but it is a different role and is outside of our buildings. Libraries do not have to do with walls and the building any more, but with where people are using our resources. We need to reevaluate how we judge success in our organizations and our metrics, and  we need a more business approach. Judge things outside the library that you may have become blinded to. Open yourselves up to broadening our staffing, which is one of the key approaches.

After Sue and Ben made their presentations, the audience was asked what big things they are working on.  Here are some of the responses:

  • Public computers not being used all the time. They are just sitting there wasting electricity. So use them to create distributed computing. One library is trying SETI@Home for this. 
  • Putting iPads in the library on both sides of circulation desk. Conduct campus-wide professional development using online resources.
  • Use iPads and support staff on mobile devices worldwide. Make resources more mobile-friendly. Barriers: money, only 1 staff member to help.
  • Large video walls in the library for large-scale visualization.
  • Put student-made content on video walls and material on the future of libraries. Use staff video enthusiasts to create content.
  • Library staff goes into community centers where seniors are and teaches them technology.
  • Understanding our non-users. We don’t know anything about them and that must change.
  • Staff training to help them understand changes. Configure applications to run on all devices so that all staff is comfortable with them.
  • A digital commons area is coming to the library with 70 public access computers, 3-D printer, etc. Figure out how we can manage all those resources.
  • The IT club from local high school comes in and shows seniors how to use all different technological products.
  • How we will be prepared for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as a library when/if the university starts offering them. How will we handle our resources then? How does the library provide access to MOOC students?
  • Change the way teens are viewed in our libraries. Conduct training for staff to change their perspectives on teens. Let the community know that gadgets aren’t “just gadgets”.
  • Take classes to the community rather than expecting them to come to the library for them.
  • Launch a data project to look at variety of customer uses in libraries.
  • Find ways to make reference more interesting.
  • Manage the pace of change as everything moves to the cloud. Understand if new things are really a change or just a passing phase. Figure out how to upgrade OPACs using Raspberry Pi modules.
  • Migration of home-bound users to tablet devices while still maintaining their connection. Use a surface touch table to connect local history resources so users can look at their street.
  • Incorporate maker spaces and digital media spaces through services and train staff members about every new change. Make them all be involved and experience it with the public, then train the board members.
  • Crowsource cataloging on Facebook.


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