Recent Events

Author Archive | Marydee Ojala

Resetting the Future at CILIL Connect

Lee Rainie, Pew Research Institute, looks at resetting the future in his opening keynote address at Computers in Libraries Internet Librarian Connect 2020. He shares research on Americans and libraries in crisis times: A major takeaway: People are using technology differently as their lives are upended. What Pew has studied since March and how it affects libraries.

No surprise here: Pew’s research reveals that the U.S. is a nation in the midst of very contentious issues.

Implications of race producing disparate results about COVID, with more minorities getting sick. Economic impact other major part of this story. And this hits lower income adults harder. Majority of Americans support BLM. Conversations about race have gone way up. More participation in protests and not just young and urban folks. Polarization is rampant and public trust in the federal government just keeps getting lower. The good news: Trust in libraries is still high. Pew polls are usually face to face but because of COVID, couldn’t do that, so fewer countries are represented

Americans are worried about voting in the midst of COVID and public has little confidence in tech companies to prevent misuse of their platforms during election.

American increasingly think that climate change is a major threat to the wellbeing of the US but it’s more Democrats than Republicans.

Enormous uptick in use of internet and adults are relying on it. New activities such as parties, watching concerts, going to fitness classes, getting groceries online. And, of course, we’re Zooming more. There’s a lot more gaming.

Libraries: Sanctuary, trusted information resource, family helper, community strengthener, democracy anchor. People rely on librarians to help them navigate our confusing information landscape, particularly when it comes to misinformation about COVID. Made-up news is a bigger problem than many other key issues. There’s a wide partisan gap in who’s getting the fats correct on coronavirus. 59% of lower income people struggle with homework online. Palpable hunger for grassroots solutions, talk honestly with their neighbors. Majority of Americans say the country can always find ways to solve our problems and libraries are institutions of hope.

Halo effect of librarian carries over from publics to other types of libraries. Higher levels of civic engagement now. Libraries are seen as safe havens for diverse conversations. When people are talking to each other via computer it’s not really a conversation. People feel more OK with not being nice to each other. Libraries are in public education business. Solving problems together, shoulder to shoulder, is easy way to foster cooperation and understanding.

Looking Ahead to 24 and 250

The 23rd Internet Librarian has come to a close with attendees heading home filled with new knowledge and eager to experiment with what they’ve learned during the time they’ve been in Monterey.

Looking ahead to next year, Internet Librarian will be the 20-22 October with pre-conference sessoins on the 19th. It should be just as wonderful as this year’s conference. Not only that, the city of Monterey will be celebrating its 250th anniversary. What a combination!

See you next October in Monterey!

Smart Community Engagement & Enablement

Keynoting the third day of Internet Librarian is Rolf Hapel, Professor of Practice, University of Washington Information School and former Director, Citizen Services & Libraries, Aarhus, Denmark, speaking about his experience designing the Dokk1 library, which opened in 2015. Its vision statement doesn’t even mention books or technology, even though the library has both.

Important to the library’s mission is community engagement. The cure for eroding community engagement, according to Hapel, is to move from informing to involving, from giving access to information to facilitating exchange and sharing, from consumers of democracy to active participation, from their problem to our problem, from concerns to opportunities.

Libraries should find ways to mitigate the social challenges caused by economic shifts, post-industrialism, new types of jobs, disappearance of old jobs, and gentrification. We forget that some people find libraries intimidating, since we think of libraries as welcoming. Hapel recommends developing an inclusive service planning model and a community assets map. Libraries are an excellent place to teach all types of literacies and to build trust and fight misinformation. Tools, such as non-partisan fact checkers, aren’t enough; we need to address belief systems.

At Dokk1, the reinvention of the library involves using flexible spaces for many different purposes, from concerts and lectures to hackathons, open data days, and literature festivals. Robots at Dokk1 (they have two, both named Norma) get people accustomed to what happens when everything is robotized. Manufacturing, he noted, has returned to Denmark, but the jobs are done primarily by robot. In the library, robots even do story hours for children.

The Danish Digital Library ( provides the same backbone for all Danish public libraries, allowing for collaboration on purchasing and unsiloing data. Its digital infrastructure puts information into meaningful containers. Moving forward, Hapel listed a dozen 21st Century job skills, which he grouped into learning skills, literacy skills, and life skills.





Wizards, Prophets, and Our Future

The Tuesday Evening session on Wizards, Prophets & Our Future transformed the hotel conference room into a world straight out of the future. Full of costumes, music, and interesting sets, it began with Erik Boekestejn cradling a small robot as he set the scene. Rolf Hapel contemplated the library of the future and Rebecca Jones, complete with witch’s hat, told a story about a dystopian library future. Comments from Cindy Hill, dressed in full NASA garb.

Michael Peter Edson took on the role of the reference librarian in 2119, answering (or dismissing) reference questions.

What fun!