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Archive | Internet Librarian

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!

 

Design Thinking for Libraries

Rolf Hapel, Professor of Practice, University of Washington Information School and former Director, Citizen Services & Libraries, Aarhus, Denmark, talked about how Aarhus used design thinking to involve citizens in designing the new library. Using interviews with children (one wanted birdsongs in the library), prototypes built of cardboard, and other manifestations of design thinking, they discovered that people wanted open spaces and self-service. The library created testing mockups.  They did UX and digital interface testing. They have interactive tables, a gaming alley, and a vending machine-like device that shows book front pages. Design thinking involves community engagement.

Erik Boekesteijn, Senior Advisor, National Library of The Netherlands, agreed that involving your community is vital.  You have to care; empathy is key to success. He asked people who don’t use libraries why they don’t. Thinking about extreme library makeovers, he cited StoryHouse in Chester, UK, where they believe that the job of librarians is to “curate curiosity.”

A new library space is a place to spend time.

 

 

Virtual Open Houses

Nykol Eystad and Susan Stekel from Walden University, which is a completely online university, shared their experiences in trying to create a virtual open house to engage students and introduce them to library services. With Walden students being adult learners spread across the world, hosting an open house presents some challenges that a physical open house doesn’t have. You can’t distribute fliers around campus. You can’t invite people to walk into an actual building. You can’t offer food.

At Walden, the library website is the library. Asynchronous instruction is the norm.  The objective of the open house was to showcase the library as a strong resource and reveal that there are real people here, they’re not bots. The library wanted to alleviate student stress and help them understand research and the databases.

The open House planning and execution involved having a dedicated open house webpage. The library conducted its open house at the beginning of the academic year and it ran for a week. The librarians didn’t want it to look like just another webinar, so they included a scavenger hunt, gave away Amazon gift cards as prizes, hidden treasures, librarian videos, and a virtual reading room. Their takeaways were:

  • Consider adding a virtual open house even with a physical library
  • Incorporate your website and online resources into open house
  • Identify your partners and stakeholders
  • Divvy up workload and responsibility
  • Create multiple activities to mix and match for future events

 

 

AI & Our Future World

The second day of Internet Librarian was kicked off by a talk from Meredith Broussard, Associate Professor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University. She is also the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World: How Computer Misunderstand the World. She began by telling us that AI is “just math.” It’s computational statistics with numerous subfields, the prominent being machine learning.

Technochauvinism seems endemic to math and computer science, since the founders and luminaries of the discipline were well-educated white males. It’s technochauvinism that fuels the belief that computers are superior to humans. Since women and people of color are not well represented in math or computer science, bias occurs. Who knew that a soap dispenser could be racist? Positive asymmetry stems from the idea that if it works for me it must work for everybody. Hence the soap dispenser that only works on light-colored skin. It’s a good example of why we need more diverse workforce. She thinks we should assume that discrimination is the default in all automated systems.

Furthermore, we should work to avoid tech Columbusing, which she defined as claiming to discover something that is, in fact, an existing field of study that has been producing vibrant, engaged research for decades. Needed is  collaboration between AI and social scientists.

Moving to the issue of preservation, something dear to hearts of librarians, she decried the fact that early stuff on the internet is gone, even articles she herself wrote. We need to make sure we can read today’s news on tomorrow’s computers since we already can’t get yesterday’s news on today’s computers.  The internet is not forever.

One reason for disappearing news is how content management systems work, how the pipes are hooked up. Adding to the problem is the contracts between companies like LexisNexis and EBSCO and the news organizations, which were signed decades ago and did not anticipate today’s technology. Plus, we no longer have very many news librarians and no one maintains the morgue. Information created “digital first,” which is often cutting edge news, is disappearing. It would be nice if the Internet Archive could preserve everything but it can’t. Archiving digital content is a “human in the loop” process.

Broussard wants us to move to the world as it should be.