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Come Back Next Year For Another Great Conference

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Another very successful CIL conference has concluded. It covered a number of topics of high current interest and offered a good look at some new and emerging technologies.  The exhibitors were happy too; the Exhibit Hall was crowded during the breaks.

So be sure to put the dates for CIL 2017 on your calendar:

March 21-23, 2017

And if you have something to report on, consider submitting a proposal when the Call For Papers for CIL 2017 is issued shortly.

I hope to see you there!

Don Hawkins

Who Are You Online?

Lennea Bower, Alexandra Zealand, Darlene Fichter, Jeff Wisniewski

(L-R) Alexandra Zealand (Arlington VA Public Library), Lennea Bower (Montgomery County MD Library), Darlene Fichter (University of Saskatchewan Library), Jeff Wisniewski (University of Pittsburgh)

Types of Online Accounts

The first part of this session focused on privacy aspects of online accounts and the image they convey. Lennea and Alexandra began by describing types of accounts. Some are parody accounts, where the owners want to have what they say distinguished from their professional writings. Professional accounts tend to be owned by organizations; personal professional accounts are owned by individuals writing about or on behalf of their workplaces.  It is important to recognize that if you post your real name on a social media platform, others can find out who you are, where you work, and connect that with your online personal account. However, this is changing significantly as the platforms update and strengthen their privacy features.

What already exists online consists of items posted by you or with your knowledge, or posts of children and minors. Think about your family if you work in a public setting. What are you posting about them? Will it be there forever? Today’s generation is the first one growing up with social media platforms from birth. When children turn 13, they can get a Facebook page; be aware that they might not like the baby photos posted by their parents.  (The average family posts 973 photos of their kids before they turn 5.)

Do you represent your institution online?  What is important to your community? With whom do you want to connect? Use an acceptable standard of professionalism in your postings; spell correctly, use complete sentences, etc. State your guidelines, and follow your organization’s policy page. (Many organizations have policies governing their employees’ use of social media; a comprehensive directory of many of them is here.) Know your communication goals at the beginning. Here is an example of three organizations’ Twitter pages that follow these principles:

Sample Twitter Pages

Do you have multiple people sharing the same account? Do you have a single voice or multiple voices (sub-voices)? Are the sub-voices official or unofficial? If they are official sub-voices, here are some things to think about:

  • Who do you represent?
  • What is important to the people who follow this account?
  • Who do you want to follow this account?

Hootsuite, is a tool which manages separate accounts and can create separate web browsers for them. Some handheld apps allow for multiple accounts.

One way to keep your personal and professional accounts separate is to use a different monitor for each one so you always know where you are and won’t make a mistake.

A Twitter Wake-Up Call

Darlene and Jeff focused on Twitter and its use in libraries. They emphasized that libraries must be on Twitter and said that it would be irresponsible for your library not to be on Twitter, especially if you are doing a lot of broad communications. When a communications medium becomes so ubiquitous and has immediate live impact on a community, a presence is essential for proactive and reactive reasons. Twitter has hit a tipping point. It is the place where we first learn about things that are happening in the world.  It has become the new news release medium. For example, organizations frequently no longer have press conferences and hope that their message gets passed along by the new media; instead, they have Twitter conferences where they can speak directly to their followers and to a wider online community (including the news media).

Why Twitter now?

  • It is an open platform unlike Facebook.
  • It is searchable and has a conversational search engine.
  •  It breaks the news and is a direct channel to communities, both nationally or regionally.
  • It is an unfiltered discussion medium. Nobody is holding the keys; you can speak directly to your followers.
  • Things announced on Twitter tend to go viral; it is universally on the radar..

Half of Twitter users follow brands or companies. Twitter users are a source for mass influencers. 25% of its users are African Americans (approximately double the average for the US population).

Use Twitter proactively and reactively. You can get a lot of traction from live tweets.  In a reactive mode, use Twitter to fight misinformation and to communicate in a time of crisis or major disaster. Internet hoaxes and misinformation can spread like wildfire online, but using Twitter, you can communicate with the community and clarify what actually occurred.

Do you have guidelines for what happens in a crisis?  (You need to have this conversation if you don’t!) For example, in the recent Freddie Gray crisis in Baltimore, the local library decided to stay open and Tweeted about it.  The Tweets became news; they did not have to wait for a reporter to come and talk to them. Twitter is immediate. It allows you to reach the media to pick up your story. You are not in complete silence. It is also bi-directional; you can hear from your followers.

Don Hawkins

Not Your Usual Content

Julia Tryon and Curt Tagtmeier

Julia Tryon and Curt Tagtmeier

This session described the production of two fascinating and unusual types of content.

The Rosarium Project

Julia Tryon, Commons Librarian at Providence College, likes roses, so she started the Rosarium Project. What interests her most is what has been written about roses, and there is no lack of material; much has been written over the centuries. (The first book solely about roses appeared in 1796.) Tryon gave attendees a tour of the history of literature about roses, accompanied by beautiful photos of them. Advances in printing provided an opportunity to distribute catalogs and manuals, like this one.

Rose catalog

In 1992, the typical way for a librarian to share a subject was to compile a bibliography; the Rosarium Project is now a full-text searchable database on the web. Because of copyright considerations most of its over 900 records describe English language non-fiction materials published before 1923. Advances in technology have provided the opportunity to make information available to the world. The audience includes scholars, gardeners, and popular culturists.

Tryon used the Reader’s Guide database to find 163 items published between 1824 and 1922. A surprising number of them came from general interest magazines. The information was encoded using the Oxygen XML Editor and the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines to produce XML files for the database. (An abstract of her talk with some additional details is available here.) TEI has the advantages that it is adaptable, allows for spelling standardization, and allows the addition of notes to records to add value.  A useful source for learning TEI is the TEI By Example website. Files are uploaded to the TAPAS project for validation; TAPAS is also the database host.

Not Your Usual Selfie

Curt Tagtmeier, Digital Collections Librarian, Highland Park Public Library and an author of several self-published books, discussed self publishing, a growing trend. Self Publishing is a huge market, as these numbers show.

Why Self Publish?

Although there are many titles available, the problem is finding them. People self publish because they have something to share and do not want to just put it on a blog. Here are some stereotypes about self-publishing.

Self publishing stereotypes

Self publishing presents several challenges for the author. Many platforms require authors to agree to exclusivity and will not allow them to publish on more than one site. Some libraries limit self published collections to physical books acquired by donation; however, Library Journal has established a program designed to expose books to more readers by creating state portals where readers can find the books (the library must subscribe to BiblioBoard). Other organizations are getting into the act; the Illinois Soon To Be Famous Author Project will give free promotion of a book for a year. The Daviess County Library, in Kentucky has established a comprehensive program to help authors.

Daviess County example

Self publishing challenges for libraries include content and quality control, e-books in a compatible format and how much staff time is required to catalog the books.

Tagtmeier uses Amazon’s CreateSpace system to create and publish his books. The system is very user friendly; if desired, the entire process can be done by simply filling forms on templates (available in the system), and cutting and pasting text. It will handle obtaining an ISBN, create the cover, and manage the sales and distribution process (even using the Kindle if the author wishes).

Don Hawkins


The Value of Value in the Near Distant Future

Stephen Abram

Stephen Abram

As he frequently does in his presentations, Stephen Abram, Principal, Lighthouse Consulting, made some provocative statements and asked probing questions. He discussed the value proposition for libraries, which is (1) Why do we exist? and (2) Does what we do align with that? For example, many libraries have launched extensive digitization programs, which may not be productive. We could be making the world a worse place because we have not integrated the results, so it is difficult to find them. Have we unfettered our information or have we continued the long tradition of libraries to add fetters to it? That is not making it easier for the user.  It is as if we have a lot of pretty mosaic tiles, but we have not made a picture. What are our tiles making and what is the context of our users? When we pull a lot of content together, it can lose context and become more of an amorphous mass.

We need to ask ourselves questions: How many of us have surveyed the top 10 questions our library requesters ask ? When you know those, what is your website support for them? How do you build a path to information literacy. Are we still book-centered? People have visual, auditory and textual learning styles; how do we put context together for them?

We need to consider how museums curate materials. When you build context, you must support a point of view.  Museum professionals curate to a point of view; librarians pretend to be non-judgmental and not have a point of view.  There is no bigger lie that we tell ourselves. We are biased toward culture, quality, what choices we make, so we need to be clear on the point of view in order to curate.  Are you focused on learning, discovery, or broadening viewpoints?

Do our virtual branches model the activities of the main library? Or do we keep things completely dis-aggregated and expect the users to figure out where to go or which database to search? We are not moving fast enough to aggregate properly.

Personas are very useful in determining the groups we serve and creating services for them. The way people are changes how they work with things. We now know that people have different learning styles, so we cannot prepare them by making them all readers. DVD rental stores have nearly all disappeared, so many people are using non-textual resources in libraries. In the 1800s, people read together in a classroom; now we watch DVDs together. We are looking for information literacy skills instead of looking for information fluency skills. Skill is not the goal; it is a process toward the goal.

Why are we going against biology? People develop at different rates based on their age. Personas help us determine this. We need to show people how to get better information from all the quality things we have licensed.  How do we aggregate the social with everything else?

We have fields, tags, tools, linked data, etc. that have all been redesigned to make our data work together. Do our metadata strategies support the pathways that users are taking? We have tools to create things that integrate multiple types of information and support the specific challenges we face. Why don’t we have our pathfinders in a huge vault that everyone can share. Librarians have a huge ability to keep their lights under a basket!  We need to work from features to functions and benefits.

How are we integrating the librarian and the social contract into social media spaces on our websites? If you are not where your users are, you are running away from a marketing opportunity to represent your values.

Physical and digital materials each have strengths and weaknesses, so create an experience to take advantage of them. Is your search experience generating self-esteem and knowledge when that is needed? Every collection in the library should be justified by the programs you are offering. Impact, outcomes, and value will tell you whether you are successful.

We are not an information profession; we are a knowledge profession that sits in the space between data and behavior. We need to evolve towards being experience-centric. We have a diffusion problem; why does it take so long for things to diffuse into our communities?  The main thing that we do not do well is to serve the business community.

Don Hawkins

Libraries and Perpetual Learning: The Thursday Keynote

Libraries and Perpetual Learning

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project, presented some of Pew’s new research lin his keynote address on Thursday . Pew describes itself as a “fact tank” and does not make predictions or suggestions. They have received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at libraries; here are some of the highlights:

Previous findings

The major things that people value about libraries are:

  • Getting “free” books,
  • Librarians who can help them to research questions in their lives,
  • Being a wonderful place of solitude, and
  • Their computers for public use.

Physical visitations to libraries have declined slightly over the past 3 years, and usage of library websites has risen. People who use libraries tend to have higher levels of education; women are more likely to be library users than men; and parents of minor children are highly enthusiastic. People under age 65 are more likely to use libraries than those over 65.

These data show that if the library closed, many people would be devastated, more on behalf of the community than themselves.

If the library closed

Libraries contribute to their communities in a variety of ways:

Library contributions to communities

Many Americans see libraries as part of the educational ecosystem and as resources for promoting digital and information literacy. One question that Pew researchers asked was “Should libraries move print books and stacks out of public locations to free space for tech centers, reading rooms, cultural events, etc.?” The general feeling not to do this has decreased; 30% now say libraries should make this change (up from 25%). The public is giving libraries permission to be flexible.

85% of survey respondents said that libraries should coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to children. They feel that libraries are wonderful problem solvers and are creative with the resources they have.

Mastering digital technology (such as basics of the internet, or learning how to use a smartphone) is one of the keys to success in the future. Concerns that people expressed were how to present themselves, keep their data secure, and keep from spending too much time on the internet. 78% of survey respondents said that libraries should offer programs to teach people, including kids and senior citizens, how to use digital tools. This is important now because people think education matters and they should be attuned more to lifelong learning.

Learning as an identity: 73% of Americans think of themselves as lifelong learners, 61% said they gather as much information as they can when they come across something unfamiliar, and 57% look for new opportunities to grow as a person. They think of libraries as potential allies in this effort. 74% of all adults are personal enrichment learners; here are some of the things they do:

What learners do

And here is why they did it


63% of adults are work-related learners:

Work-Related Learners

How are libraries performing in this new environment? How well do they serve the educational needs of the local community.  37% said “very well” and 39% said “pretty well”.

What does the local library provide?

Library Services

Although 62% of the respondents said they knew that their library offers e-books for borrowing, that means 38% did not know. Libraries still need to do some education in the community.

Should libraries offer programs to protect people’s privacy and security online? 76% say that they definitely should, which shows that there is a deep-seated concern about privacy of data and a sense that we are losing control of it. 64% say libraries should have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, and relaxing at the library.

Libraries have 3 dimensions:

  • People: Serve and Learn: The role of the library may expand. Most people have a sense that librarians are good at helping people. There is a hope  that librarians are the “rock stars” of the knowledge economy and understand the trends that are emerging.
  • Place: Reconfigured and repurposed.  The IoT will be a challenge. Everything you have becomes a repository of the community. Every book can become something where people gather.  Buildings will have some dimensions of the IoT brought into them. When people want to get together, the library will be the first place they will go because libraries are open, safe, and encouraging. They can fill in market niches or “market holes”, be makerspaces, and community information stewards. There is a concern that communities will will be affected as newspapers cease to provide coverage of local events, so libraries can fulfill that role by providing civic information, coverage of city hall, etc.
  • Platform: Libraries can be a Community Resource: a trusted institution for learning; an advocate for free, open, and closing digital divides; a privacy watchdog; and a civic specialist.

Rainie concluded by echoing his conclusion from last night’s session: don’t be afraid of the disruption you are going through. Many other institutions do not have the means you do; keep your voices up.

Don Hawkins

The Internet of Things and Libraries: The Wednesday Evening Session

Lee Rainie and Jane Dysart

Lee Rainie and Jane Dysart

Lee Rainie, Director, Internet, Science and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center, author of Networked: The New Social Operating System, and a frequent speaker at CIL and Internet Librarian conferences, presented the Wednesday evening session on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Libraries.  He began with the Oxford English Dictionary‘s definition of the IoT: “development of the internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data”.

The rise of the IoT is the 4th digital revolution; in 2010, for the first time, there were more connections to things than to human. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be 50 billion things connected to the internet.

What the IoT means for libraries:

  1. It is the 4th digital revolution and it is tied to another revolution moving toward gigabit connectivity.
  2. People: It reshapes who librarians are and what they do.
  3. Place: It reconfigures library spaces and media.
  4. Platform: It redefines the role libraries play in communities.

The future is not evenly distributed; some people are early adopters, and the IoT is just beginning to affect people.

From 2004 to 2011, Pew did surveys of analysts, forward thinkers, and scholars about the future of the internet. Here are some of the significant findings:


In 2014, which was the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Pew did more surveys on the future of the internet and what it would be like to be present with each other without being physically together. Here are some of the details:

Survey details

This video made by Corning Glass shows some applications of the IoT.

Rainie invited the audience to interact and ask questions, and a wide-ranging discussion on a number of related topics ensued. Here are a few of them. (Rainie kindly provided me with a copy of his slides; a summary of them follows.)

  • The internet has become an aggregation of human-level data; people are uploading their human condition to it.
  • The IoT is bound with the rise of Big Data. It will never take off if it doesn’t make life better and more convenient for people. One of the biggest challenges of the rise of the IoT is getting the societal benefits without compromising privacy and penalizing people, i.e. anonomyzing the data.
  • In the business community, the IoT is most aggressively pursued in supply chain economics. One of the biggest changes is that we will know a lot more about ourselves; you will have no excuse not to be self-aware.
  • Why would businesses want to give their information to libraries? They want to be known as good stewards of their data and want a trusted third party to validate it to them. There is an enormous wave of transparency sweeping through our culture that is hard to resist.  The act of refusing to share data brings a lot of grief that businesses want to avoid.
  • People want librarians to help them navigate spaces. Do people think there will be adoption followed by outrage over loss of privacy? We have not gone through revolutions like this so quickly in the past, so we don’t know the answers to questions like this. We are trying to figure out what our relationship with this world should be: what is the right thing to share? There is no “Miss Manners”. Librarians are in the best position of being fully engaged with smart technologies of this wave.
  • Will we able to keep up with the access to so much information?  Most social scientists say that we will.  It will follow the “Matthew Effect”: the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Advantages will accrue to super-searchers and people like them.
  • Are there any limitations on bandwidth? How many things will we be able to connect? The improvements in bandwidth are following Moore’s Law; there are many ways to compress data. Many devices will be near to each other and won’t use much bandwidth.
  • Librarians are navigators of information for students and also educators of an aging population. They have a huge contribution to make when the IoT arrives; don’t be afraid of it.

In a study of digital life in 2025, people were asked what they expected would be the most significant effects of our uses of the internet on humanity between now and 2025. Here are some of the responses:

  • The internet will become like electricity: less visible but more deeply embedded in peoples’ lives for good and ill.
  • 83% of respondents thought the IoT will be widespread and beneficial.

Potential applications of the IoT (these examples are a sampling from

  • A wearable monitor could check on a baby and send notifications to the parents
  • Reminders to take medicine could be transmitted from a pill bottle.
  • Activities could be tracked, or senior family members could be monitored.
  • Smart thermostats will allow us to heat our homes more efficiently.
  • Smart outlets could let us check whether an appliance is on or off.
  • Lost items (keys!) could be tracked.
  • Homes could be monitored remotely and checked for broken pipes, intruders, etc.
  • Gardens could be watered.

Here are some hopeful IoT outlooks:

  1. Information sharing over the Internet will be effortlessly interwoven into daily life.
  2. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, wearable devices, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior, and will especially aid in health care.
  3. The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters more planetary relationships and less ignorance.
  4. An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.

And here are some downbeat outlooks:

  1. The realities of this data-drenched world raise substantial concerns about privacy and people’s abilities to control their own lives. The level of profiling and targeting will grow and amplify social, economic, and political struggles.
  2. Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.
  3. Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them will have a new capacity to make life miserable for others.
  4. Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power as they invoke security and cultural norms.
  5. Humans and their organizations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks.
  6. There will be complicated, unintended consequences: ‘We will live in a world where many things won’t work and nobody will know how to fix them.’

Despite the potential problems, here is Rainie’s  best advice.

Rainie Be Not Afraid

Don Hawkins