What’s a Real Book?

While I was at Computers in Libraries 2010, I listened to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States (he gave one of the keynotes at the conference). During his interview (Paul Holdengraber from New York Public Library interviewed him), he was talking about books and what he likes to read … and mentioned that he prefers print books over ebooks (he likes the aesthetics of paper books).

That’s fine – I get that.

But then, the audience … at Computers in Libraries … applauded! Like he’d just won an award or something. And soon after, someone tweeted “Yeah! David Ferriero still reads REAL books!”


Help me out here – what’s the most important part of a book – the paper? Or the stuff on the paper? Anyone?

Do authors really think about paper when writing books (I know I didn’t when I wrote my book)? Most likely not. Instead, they’re thinking about the next twist in the story, or how to adequately describe that next thought.

Does anyone applaud when someone says “I still watch Super 8 movies?” How about if someone said “I still love reading print journals?” Nope. No applause there. No one would tweet “Yay! He still reads REAL journals!”

When I read something, here’s what I care about:

  • getting sucked into the story (with fiction)
  • learning something new or interesting (with non fiction)
  • being entertained and engaged (with both)

For me, this happens via paper, my iPhone, my computer, an audio book, an ebook reader, or online. I’m guessing you’re reading just fine right now.

So my point? I think it’s time for us librarians to get over our paper fetish.

Content and container – the two are really, truly, different. Books are stories or a largish chunk of non-fiction text – novels, biographies, histories, etc. The format or container? This tends to change (though it hasn’t in a long time).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying books are bad. I’m also not saying print is bad. But I am saying that when lots of people applaud someone … at a conference dedicated to computers and the web … for favoring one container over another, it shows our bias, it shows our professional bent … and that bent needs to be adapting and growing and watching the horizon.

pic by Adrian

CIL2010: Developing & Designing for Mobile

Speaker – Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh

Notes from this session …

mobile will surpass desktop web access in the next couple years

if you can write html, css, and javascripting … you can write for the mobile web.

me – mobile apps are great …. but we even moreso need to be building for the mobile web.

context is important:

  • not interested in your lending policy
  • want to satisfy immediate info needs
  • usually we’re in busy places, doing multiple things when we are accessing mobile web

Mobile usability – oxymoron (not sure I agree …)

– minimize the need to input text when you can.

remember you’re designing fro a small screen and will have speed and latency issues.

Two important points to remember:

  • don’t make me think!
  • don’t make me type!

content – ask your users what they would find useful

Cake and icing:

cake – directions, hours, contact info, ask a question, etc.

icing – (do these if you can, later on, etc) – catalog search, article search…

be selective – everything is on a need to know basis

repurpose existing content – podcasts, video, alerts, rss type stuff

content we buy:

some have mobile friendly sites already, like EBSCO, PubMed, westlaw, etc.

Catalog: look for accessible version if possible – it will probably be mobile friendly

me – mobile – make sure our site and services work on a 3g network – m.tscpl.org

m.home – make a new mobile homepage:

single column

single lines

flattened hierarchy

short titles

simple standard html and css

include a mobile dtd type

ignore handheld css stylesheets. most new mobile browsers ignore handheld stylesheet statement

media query – the link media thing – tells browser to use this stylesheet if screen is smaller than a certain size

include action links like a href tel:phone# stuff – sms: – same thing – this allows people to click and call or click and text, rather than having to type

optimizing for mobile:

combine dependent files, minify your javascript and css, tell google  – register mobile site with them.

Google small business center – register library website with google local

use validation services

drupal has a mobile template

usability testing – do paper tests

analytics – google analytics has mobile tracking, or you can filter by user agents

CIL2010: Transforming Publishing & Purchasing

Speaker – Stephen Abram

Do you need containers for information? It’s a real question…

What does Open mean?

– there’s line-ups in front of a movie theater? Because they’re engaged
– why do you read? entertainment, relaxation, be successful, learn info, etc
– open source, open infrastructure, open bar, open standards, etc…

Does Open require a container? It shouldn’t

What does Social change?

Think about it.

We all work in social institutions, we work in a transaction-based organization. Counting transactions, clicks, etc – we don’t actually know what they did.

Suddenly, the software and the activity aligns.

How does your library deal with visual material? For visual learners?

Ex – do you want your surgeon to have reviewed videos of successful operations, or do you want them saying “don’t worry – I read an article” ??

What’s driving the need for Open?
– user expectation
– architecture
– the cloud
– APIs
– social media
– experience trends
– personalization

The API cloud … lots of API possibilities…

“You shouldn’t have to dust something that people want…”

What about Apps?
plugins, itunes, etc. first app is usually facebook – for connecting with actual people.

What’s your experience look like?

University experience – what’s it look like? We used to shove people in carrels now we create more meeting and interaction spaces.

Old Containers –
– these are not going away!
– but they are always physical
– physical formats are losing market and mind share
– especially in the discovery and learning space

Traditional experiences:
– school, continuing education – how is it changing?
– open library hours – in the academic world, there’s a second peak between 10pm and 2am – anyone staff for that? Similar to a public library and people getting home from work and school …

New Containers:
– mostly virtual
– ecourses, lessons, websites, portals, sessions, events, digital photo albums, etc
– how do these objects fit into a positive transformational experience?
– we shouldn’t be measuring only transactional clicks.

Measure did the user find what they wanted, and did they enjoy the experience?

types of containers, revised: paragraphs, chapters, clips, graphics, pictures, etc.

Container success – focus not he end user in context. Where are they? In the shower? Driving? Sitting at a desk? Etc.

Content is not enough

focus on the results of the experience

support readers, not authors. learners, not teachers. collectors, not collections. etc.

design for use, not clicks.

Try writing a game that has only three clicks. They engage because there is something happening that engages them every step of the way. The get a coin, get a clue, find a monster, etc.

design for transformations, not transactions.

design for learning styles.

techflash.com e-book universe graphic…

CIL2010: Dead & Emerging Technologies Panel

I was on the Dead & Emerging Tech panel this year at Computers in Libraries, so here are my slides.

This panel is supposed to be entertaining and provocative (and hopefully have some good thoughts too), so it was tricky to do, but fun too.

So – enjoy!

CIL2010 – Gen X Librarians: Leading from the Middle

Notes from a talk I attended …

Speakers: Lisa Carlucci Thomas (Digital Services Librarian), Southern Connecticut State University, Karen Sobel (Web Librarian), and Nina McHale (Reference & Instruction Librarian) – both at the University of Colorado at Denver

Gen X and Tech – Nina

Ha – quote – “I have shoes older than you.”

Generalizations work sometimes, sometimes not so much. ie – there are 20-something digital novices and 80-year old tech gurus.

Defines Gen X at early-mid 1960s to early 1980s. That’s me – born in 1966.

Growing up (along) with technology:

gen x librarians developed technology skills as needed – computers entered our lives during our educations

1970 – mean income, $10,001 – “Kitchen Computer,” $10,600

1984-1993 – computer access doubled for Gen Xers.

Gen X – between two worlds:

typewriters and word processors
card catalogs and opals
print and electronic
DOS and Windows
Analog and Digital
Traditional and Social
Landline and Cell Phone

Parallels in personal lives:
there has always been a generation in the middle – but tech adds a new dimension.

Attitudes toward tech:

we’re proficient with it
accepting of change and desire to improve systems
more likely to bank, shop, and look for health info online – connecting traditional institutions and new modes of communication

Gen X at Work – Karen

Sandwich Generation at work

Good mix of generations, income brackets, and levels of information at the university

She works on bridging the gap in the classroom.

different generations want to know different things.

make sure to personalize the instruction

Gen X skills in the library:

Gen X is bridging the gap – we started out analog, ended up digital. So we can help older people that are just starting out learning the “new stuff” – cause we’ve been there too

“I like technology, but I’m not an addict” – we have a better balance than older and younger generations

What does it mean to say “I’m not a computer person?” – But … they still have a phone…

Many Gen X librarians lean in tech-related taskforces, digitization projects, training programs

Gen X and Leadership – Lisa

Never before – 4 generations int he workplace

Gen X – rising into management positions (that’s me too)

Gen X is the smallest entry wave of managers in leadership roles right now…

Difference – Gen X is loyal to the profession – not to the institution.

Require personal/professional life balance

self-driven and self-motivated

promote innovation, mediate change, mentor people towards that change

Mentioned BIGWIG as a good example of gen x librarians working towards change

Sweet – mentioned mine and Michael Porter’s Library 101 project as something trying to give back to the profession – thanks!

Interesting – are we the self-centered skeptical slackers the media once portrayed us as? Not so much. Instead, we are independent, innovative individuals – who are becoming proficient leaders in our fields.

#genx hashtag…