IMMD

This made my day:

neilg-likes-my-shirt

While my graphic designer friends are quick to point out that I am the ‘creator’ of the shirt and not the ‘designer’ since I came up with the overall concept (works for me!), the message is still pretty sweet. I owe a gigantic debt of gratitude to Courtney Young for wearing the Endangered Libraries shirt when she introduced “A Special Afternoon with Neal Gaiman and Nancy Pearl” at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. She had told me that he liked it which is what started the very short exchange pictured above. It really made my day!

You can still get a shirt at the ALA store, either in person now in San Diego at the Midwinter Meeting or through the website.

[IMMD is short for 'It Made My Day’]

Sunday Speculation: For the Love of the Game

Photo by Erik Mallinson/Flickr

There is no denying it: I am a gamer.

I adventure in World of Warcraft. I take capture points and blow up people in Team Fortress 2. My iPad is full of games from World of Goo (SO. GOOD.) to Scrabble to Warpgate to- well, you get the point. Lots of games.

I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons at a pretty young age. My mother’s family was big into card games and my friends would play lots of a board games. With the advent of Atari and then later Nintendo, the console game system started to feature into my play activities. A family Commodore 64 was where my brother and I would play even more games. College had a combination of console (Playstation), computer (the first Command & Conquer blew my mind and lots of Quake), and some other games (Hearts and a violent card game known simply as “Egyptian Ratscrew”. Don’t ask.) Post college saw involvement in live action roleplaying games (also known as LARPs) in addition to the other platforms (console, computer, board, card) listed above.

Gaming has been a part of my professional life as well. I worked to co-create a video game collection in my library system. The circulation for the games has been tremendously successful. I’ve been pretty proud of that and work towards giving people a new way to look at the library as well as a chance to see what else we have to offer.

Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of articles that talk about the importance of play in development (both human and other animals) and the benefits it has on mental acuity. Personally, I’ve never understood while people give up on play so easily. Or maybe it’s just that the concept of play changes over time for some people.

So, I have a simple question: how do you play? What do you consider to be play? And how has play changed for you?

The Empire Strikes Books

Andy Priestner, Cambridge University’s business school head librarian, takes a look at how a futuristic society from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away handles information. It’s a juxtaposition of electronic data that is shelved like the physical objects, as if to give people a familiar and comfortable display despite being advanced well beyond such needs. (Additional note: I don’t think in any of the six movies do you see someone picking up anything to read it, but I could be wrong.) I really dig what visions of future societies entail when it comes to how information is accessed, handled, and stored. The Star Wars movies are no exception.

The video above is one I saw awhile back. I just thought it was a great little exercise in how and how not to do a reference interview using the movie. Check it out, it’s short and a fun one.

(h/t: Library Society of the World & Blastr)

Internet No Longer Just For Porn

From Pew:

This is a study regarding where people get their news as broken down into four categories. The line that gets the most action and the most interest is the red Internet line in each one of the demographics. I mean, look at it in the upper left graphic (the under 30 set); it just shoots through the roof. For me, that just goes to show the continued importance of internet access as a community resource. The cost of internet access has not continued to significantly decline in the last few years. As such, I do not think it is a stretch to imagine that this will be a continued justification for the existence of libraries, both as an internet access point as well as a place of computer information instruction.

Furthermore, it’s a trend that is worthy of additional investigation. Can current libraries plan their programs and classes around this trend? Can they shift marketing focus onto internet access? What does this mean in terms of information literacy? All are worthy questions for further examination.

Otherwise, the charts tell us nothing that hasn’t been widely reported about the decline of other media: television, newspapers, and radio. I would surmise it would be due to the ‘on demand’ nature of the internet. It will be interesting to see how these medias will morph over time.

(h/t: Andrew Sullivan)

7 Library Predictions for 2011

In no particular order, here are my predictions for 2011.

  • More public and school libraries will close. Academic libraries will be scaled back.

For the first sentence, it’s a money/political will issue. For the second sentence, it is colleges and universities attempting to cut costs. I’d like to start off on a happier note, but I’m afraid I cannot.

  • There will be more paywalls to content.

As business tries to capitalize on the web, there will be more incentive to either demand a subscription or pay a la carte for content (either by the article, the issue, or a combination of both). Libraries will be forced retune their budgets in order to continue content delivery.

  • There will be an ereader company that will work with libraries.

Perhaps more of a product of wishful thinking, but I’d like to imagine that one of these companies figures out that there is money in this end of the government sector. I realize there is a matter of working with publishers on this one, but getting the devices on board is a key element.

  • There will be a copyright reckoning.

The DMCA is in dire need of updating. With the rise of ebooks, there is an excellent chance to makes changes that move the pendulum back from licensing and towards ownership. There is a lot at stake here.

  • There will be a philosophical shakeup in the profession.

Personally, I think the shakeup would be in how librarians treat each other. Part of the reason I wrote the Big Tent Librarianship article is that there are times when I don’t feel that profession is moving as one big team. It’s factional and fractious at a time when it really needs to come together. So, that’s my hope.

  • The libraries that start new construction this year will be based more around spaces and services rather than the collection itself.

I believe in the mindset that there will be a move to digital for the things that make sense, keeping physical material where needed or desired by patrons, and the rest will be able making a place for people to convene. The Great Good Place will be about the community space and not about the collection space.

  • Despite everything, it will still be a good year to be a librarian.

It may be the optimist in me, but the technology will continue to get better. People will still call upon the profession for assistance of all kinds. Communication and cooperation will mean that more information will be available to the average person than any other time in history. The continued sluggish economy will mean that internet access will be an essential part of our services. There will be bright spots to the profession.

Here’s to a better 2011!

“Libraries’ missions have not changed”

From the December 26 Library Link of the Day:

"Libraries’ missions have not changed," Henderson says. "Our mission has always been to get people the information they need in a timely manner, to make sure it’s credible and what they want. The only thing that’s changed is the number of devices they might be able to get it on or the forms they might get it in."

This excellent piece in the Charlestown City Paper gives a wonderfully frank view of libraries and the challenges they are facing. In particular, how there is a natural blending of technology as an augment to the current resources. That is something that I don’t think is emphasized as much as it should be. With the new generations of technology, it means more tools in the library toolbox, not as a complete replacement for the library as an institution. And furthermore, that this new technology allows for the expansion of library services and materials in ways that were only dreamed of ten years ago. Overall, it’s an excellent article and a must read for advocates out there.

Sunday Speculation: Cell Phones & Constant Connections

CC Pic by Nemo's Great Uncle/Flickr One of the things that the week off has given me is the knowledge that my current cell phone plan contract has expired. Being an individual that is acutely aware such details, it’s been expired from September. Perhaps it is a sign as to how much care and concern I give my cell phone (which sounds something akin to “Oops, I dropped it again. Oh good, it survived! Again!”), or perhaps it is a sign of the love/hate relationship I’ve had with this particular cell phone and provider. I don’t have a smartphone; I have what I can only term as a developmentally disadvantaged phone. It was born in an era slightly before the web interface really took off but they were smart enough to put a slide out keyboard so that I would not use it as a projectile having hit 3 a bunch of times in order to get a letter E for a text message. It’s been a nice run but, really, the limitations are such that it makes it more of a pain at times when a web enabled browser or just the perfect application would be quite delightful.

Despite having said that, I will admit there is a relief to not having a smartphone at times. Judging from how often my friends, family, and coworkers will glance at their phones, I do take a secret delight in not being that connected all the time. Some may argue that one doesn’t have to check the phone every time they get a buzz or a beep, but being the curious creatures that humans are (and me being one of the curiouser; yes, I just invented a word), I’d find it hard not to check and see what the message was. I’ve also had the distinct displeasure of sitting next to someone in a post conference meal and being ignored in favor of a smart phone conversation throughout the whole meal. I’m glad there were other people to talk to around me, but it was like sitting next to a wall of silence. A very rude experience, but thankfully it has only happened once.

There is a little joy in being just a tiny bit disconnected. If people really want to reach me, they can text, send me a DM through Twitter, or *gasp* call me. I do like calling people back after they send me text messages. It’s like a fun breach of some unwritten protocol about limiting it to text messages. But, seriously, in the same span of typing out several text messages back to you, we have can have the whole conversation in less than a minute and both go on with our lives. Text is great for dropping a quick note or having small exchanges when the phone isn’t an option, but there are things that are easier with just a quick call.

So, in getting to the actual speculation part of the post, I’m wondering if anyone else likes the idea of being slightly disconnected in this technology day and age. That they are purposefully technology limited so as to limit the amount of contact stimulus they have in their lives. For as much as I may protest being so connected, I have a touch of gadget dorkiness to me that makes me go “must get phone that can run my life”. I will probably give in, but not without an eye towards determining how much notification that I can get at one time.

My question is thus: how much connectedness do you prefer and how does your choice in technology reflect it?