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And that’s the end of IL 2012.  It was a great conference, and Monterey was as beautiful as ever.  There were lots more presentations than I was able to report on here, but the slides from most of them are on the IL website.

And don’t forget to save the date NOW for IL 2013.

Have a great year!


Reinventing Spaces and Places: The Closing Keynote

In keeping with the general theme of Transformation at IL 2012, the closing keynote session featured a panel on Reinventing Spaces and Places.  Panel members were Erik Boekesteijn, Jaap van de Geer (also known as The Shanachies), both from the Delft Public Library; Paul Pivel, University of Calgary; and Jeff Wisniewski, University of Pittsburgh.

Closing Keynote Panel (L-R): Erik Boekesteijn, Paul Pival, Jaap van de Geer, Jeff Wisniewski

The panel was asked to address the following questions and issues:

  • Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us?
  • What are successful spaces doing?
  • But I don’t have any space!
  • Keys to success:  involving users, flexibility, and more flexibility.

The answers all center on major themes: flexibility, creation, collaboration, and maybe tradition.  Here is a brief transcript of their conversation.

Jaap: We cannot save libraries by doing more of what we have done before because the outcome will be the same.  We are heading for a great future in libraries, and media consumption is shifting away from books.  We are moving toward creation, but we need a new business model because the world is changing.

What can we tell you that you haven’t already heard before?  Don’t work for money, see if you can let money work for you.  Do the same for space.  Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us?  Are we using the full potential of our buildings?  Use our local insights to drive marketing, sales, and results.  A relentless focus on the user is important.

Erik:  What are successful spaces doing?  The Library of 100 Talents (in the north of Holland) invited a group of teens to talk to the architect and interior decorators of their planned new building to get their input on the design.

Paul:  At TFDL, we built creation spaces into the library.  We have 26 collaborative workrooms with collaborative software.

Jeff:  Westport CT put maker space in the middle of their library.

This is an example of learning outside the classroom–providing spaces where students can share ideas in public locations promotes peer learning.  At McMaster University a gaming room supports a curriculum on gaming.  Collaborative spaces can be in open areas and have multiple uses.

Jaap:  The Assen Public Library in Holland built a TV studio in the library.  They have their own crew to record shows with students, but when the studio is not being used, they rent it out to commercial companies.

Erik:  Keys to success:  Involve the community and make them part of the community.  At DOK, (one of the 25 most modern libraries in the world) there is a video wall with 32 stories running.  People can come and record their own stories.

Changes happening:  libraries are not only about books; they are about storytelling.  All types of media can be mixed to invest in the education of the people of the city.  In Arhus, Denmark, they are building a new library that is not for books but for people.  It will be a place for dialog, knowledge, ideas and exhibition.  We must force users to dismiss the book as a library brand.  We need to rethink the library and have a fusion between the physical and virtual.  The new role is to facilitate the user’s needs.

What do users say?  They like a quiet space at times and space for collaboration at other times.  Different spaces are necessary and should not be mixed.

Market Your Space

Jeff:  We don’t know what the future will look like.  We must design with flexibility in mind.  2 important ingredients are flexible libraries/spaces and flexible teams.  We must have people willing to support creation spaces and not just people who manage a collection.  Have flexible furniture that lets you create spaces on the fly–with wheels so it can be moved.

Paul:  Have more Wi-Fi than you possibly imagine you would need.  Provide power and network access everywhere, regardless of where the furniture ends up.  Raised flooring is one way to do this.

Jeff:  Users want networking and power.  If we don’t do anything else, they will be thrilled.

Paul:  Agile walls let you create and change space quickly.

Jeff:  North Shore Public Library replaced all their desktop computers with iPads so that the gaming area can be anywhere.  Now there are kiosks that will dispense iPads with a swipe of a library card.  No mediation is required.  Market your space as a product and service, not a facility. Reclaim space from things that are not working   Get rid of things that aren’t used, and share space with other libraries.

Erik:  Build your library in other places, like the Amsterdam Airport, bus stations, museums.

Jaap:  We don’t work for books, we let the stories and visitors work for us!

Erik:  Singapore is collecting stories from people and bringing them into the library.  History is happening–we must capture who we are.



Bring Back the Funny: Humor in the Library

Jennifer Koerber

Our work is usually very serious, and we tend to take ourselves seriously, but it is sometimes advantageous to take some risks and lighten the atmosphere, which will help keep us sane and relieve the tension.  Some people may be very funny outside of work, but they are quite different in the work environment.  Jennifer Koerber, Web Services Librarian at the Boston Public Library, gave a very entertaining and informative presentation that showed some of the ways that humor can be advantageously used in libraries.

There is a line when we talk about humor.  If you come down on the far side of it, people will come after you, but if you are too close, you will just look lame.  Don’t be lame, and take risks.   If you can handle complaints, you can handle people not getting the joke.  Work with what is appropriate for your constituency and your neighborhood.  Don’t scare people off, invite them in using humor.  And if you’re going to do a joke, have a plan and be able to respond if you get feedback.

Here are some examples of humorous signs used by the Hillsdale NJ library.


You can pull the humor from context and from what happens at the moment. For example, Hillsdale had a flood and made a sign about it. (See Ben Bizzle’s earlier presentation for other examples.)  Here are other examples..

Your Smartphone is the best tool ever for bringing humor into libraries.  As you are out in the world, have your phone with you and take photos of things that strike you.  We hate writing signs that say no, so bring a bit of humor to the message.

In the digital world, we have April Fools Day website hacks.  Are we too scared to do one for libraries?  There don’t seem to be any examples available.  Outside the library, here are examples from WholeFoods,, Groupon (wrote a patent for April Fools Day), Kodak (print your own live kittens), Webex (Angry Birds to invade meetings).  Google turned all its maps, even Street View, into an 8-bit arcade option (most of us do not have the money to do this!).


404 error pages are also very appropriate for humor.

You can have fun with website pages, and it doesn’t take much effort.  See the Lawrence University library pages on Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19).  They took it all the way by just changing the text,

and even provided a translator for many of the common phrases used in the library!

You can do video hacks.  For example, the Craighead County/Jonesboro Library has a whole series of hacks done as a comedy show set in the library.

Make sure you can laugh at yourself too.  Get used to being the center of attention.  Take a risk and put yourself out there, like Jennifer has done on occasion:


Congratulations, Jennifer, on a wonderful presentation!


Arudino Hacking: Prototyping the Internet of Things

Jeremy Kemp

The subject of Jeremy Kemp’s dissertation at San Jose State University was student adoption of avatars for learning. He found that students are willing to accept a virtual environment as a learning system, but avatars are more appealing to women in the middle of their careers.

Benjamin Franklin was America’s first new media maker.  3D scanners and the internet of things are on their way up on the Gartner Hype Cycle.  3D printing is at its peak, and virtual worlds are largely past.  How will we define Web 3.0?  Here are some possibilities.

We are entering a maker environment.  The Espresso Book Machine is moving books to atoms, and the Internet of Things is emerging.  In the library, touch screens and scanners now allow users to check out their own books.  How do non-digital users become aware of e-books?  A voice could be triggered at the return slot advising the user about them.

Popular smart objects include QR codes, RFID, near-field communication, and augmented reality.  A community of people is out there trading objects.  Sifteo cubes are tiny computers that can be connected to a laptop to communicate and used for games, mainly for kids.  The cubes are the controls.  The littleBits toy consists of parts for a controller that can be assembled by kids.

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software that can be used to create interactive objects and environments.  It was used in a library to create a book with embedded micro-controlled circuits driving interactive illustrations. Microcontrollers use open source electronics to sense the environment by receiving input from a variety of sensors and can control lights, motors, and other actuators.  The software, developed by MIT, is flexible and easy to use.  Using conductive thread, controllers can be sewn into clothes.  The Arduino programming language is based on Java.  Sparkfun Electronics sells a kit that lets users code a variety of applications.

3D printing takes digital things and makes them physical.  Google 3D Warehouse provides the content.  The printer extrudes plastic in various shapes to produce objects. Laser cutters are used to remove material from a block of plastic.  Using this, Kemp produced embroidery of a QR code on a piece of fabric.  One application of this technology in libraries would be to create physical representations of spaces in the design process.