Recent Events

Innovation in Libraries

(L-R) David Lee King, Alexandra Zealand, Rudy Leon, Brian Pichman

(L-R) David Lee King, Alexandra Zealand, Rudy Leon, Brian Pichman

This panel described some of the innovations the panelists have found in libraries and how they find new ones.

Brian Pichman, Director of Strategic Innovation for the Evolve Project, goes to conferences outside the library field such as the Consumer Electronics Show, TechFest, and maker fairs, and talks to people about libraries. He asks exhibitors if they have thought about working with libraries and has found that many of them are shocked that a librarian is attending that conference. So he is promoting libraries as well as finding new technologies that drive the biggest innovations in libraries. Two of the best toys he has seen that libraries could use are WonderWorks to teach programming, and OzoBot, in which the user draws on paper and a robot traces what was drawn, thus energizing artistic people and introducing them to coding.

Rudy Leon, from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Wilmington, browses SkyMall catalogs on airplanes, finds products that would be appropriate to use in the library, then suggests acquiring them to her library director. She also visited the Taylor Family Digital Library in Calgary (which she said is “very amazing”) and saw 3 innovations to help academic libraries:

  1. A digitization wall that can be operated as multiple screens or a single big one to allow researchers to look closely at their data. They can digitize maps or study watermarks and fiber of paper.
  2. A digital globe for humanities classes on which data such as maps or weather patterns can be displayed.
  3. A scanning station to digitize maps, cataloging and display the as they are scanned. Users can print copies of scanned material and take it with them for further study.

All meeting rooms in the UNC library have glass walls. Meeting participants often use the walls as whiteboards (keeping permanent markers out of the room!), which makes peoples’ work literally transparent.

Leon also suggested that instead of checking out a book about something such as a craft, the library have kits available to borrow so that a user can try it and decide if they want to make a long-term investment and buy the equipment.

Alexandra Zealand, Web Editor and Producer at the Arlington (MA) Public Library, uses Meetup (not a free service) for promoting events among a the online community. She has found it to be a useful tool to announce programs that library wants to attract people to. One can put classes on meetup, and the system will send reminders or cancellation notices to a list of email addresses. In addition, users can talk to each other, make arrangements to get together outside the class, etc. The library has control of what happens on its Meetup, so inappropriate messages, etc. can be deleted. It is also possible to take group photos and upload them to Meetup, which gives proof of who attended.

Libraries are a place for do-it-yourself activities and tool lending. For example, a private tool lending library in Somerville MA lends tools. “Fixit fairs” help people repair things. The Arlington library had a fixit fair and started a garden tool lending library based on this model–you bring your stuff, our experts will help you fix it.

David Lee King, Digital Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County (KS) Public Library and author of Face2Face (Information Today, 2012), discussed privacy. Some large companies (i.e. Target, Home Depot) have been hacked. Social media is not private even if settings are set to private. The Tor network for web traffic enables anonymous communication using encrypting and blind routing messages through a blind network. It is not completely anonymous, but it is more private than most library networks. Other organizations working on privacy include the Library Freedom Project, and a LITA interest group on privacy. The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is working on privacy standards. King suggested talking to vendors about privacy and how they do it, holding classes on privacy, and telling people what to do when they are using open Wi-Fi networks.

Comments are closed.