My thoughts on Internet Librarian 2004

First off – I really SHOULD have tried to stay for the whole conference, for a number of reasons… but mainly it looks like I missed some great presentations! I was there for Monday’s presentations.

Alrightie… The Pew dude was cool (Lee Rainie, Director of Pew Internet and American Life Project)! By the way, they have an RSS feed (just subscribed). Here’s some stuff I wrote down during his talk on internet trends:

– Popular internet has only been around for 10 years! I’m amazed that something so new has taken such a major role in … well … everything. 10 years – that’s my whole professional library life (MLS in 1994)!

– He didn’t use these words, but – the Internet pretty much mirrors what’s already in people’s heads. Very interesting thought, if you take ALL the net into consideration.

Anyway… there’s a library concept in there somewhere. What do people like to do at the library? On the library website? What do WE want to put in our customer’s heads? Or how do we facilitate our customers putting stuff into their own heads? And how do we do that using a website? Just something that struck me during the talk.

– Seniors really don’t use the web as much as we think they do. Mr. Rainie said that any small increment in stats for seniors makes it look like a huge growth area. But by and large, seniors aren’t as interested in the web – they “don’t need it and don’t want it.”

– The web is becoming very social. When you’re online nowadays, you tend to join things and share. I’m doing that now.

– Broadband influences people’s use. Definitely.

– The doctor/patient thing – people are starting to see doctors as more of a health care partner, rather than the end-all DOCTOR. That’s because we can look up the basic research on most anything health-related, and we go into the doctor’s visit on a more equal footing than before.

That’s it for Mr. Rainie. Next, I spoke on creating a community resource on the web (seemed to go over well), and then I hung out in the link resolver/openURL/Federated search track for the rest of the day. Cool stuff there, too. The OpenURL concept is awesome! I learned a new term, “Information Silo.” That’s basically any of our individual article databases (ProQuest, EBSCOHost, etc). They’re “silos” because they hold a lot of good info, but our customers don’t know how to use them (if they can even find them), especially when each product has it’s own interface. Our customers want to go to one place and find everything.

And last – I had a great time meeting, hanging out with, and getting to know some of the other speakers. So much better than the usual “meet and greet” times that are provided to speakers and vendors (probably ’cause I’m not much of a schmoozer). It’ll be fun to meet up with them again in DC for Computers in Libraries.