library tech trends

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The annual American Library Association (ALA) conference is coming up next week, and for the first time in too long I'll be attending. An old friend will be the new president of my "home" division of ALA, the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), and that alone is reason enough to go. (Of course, spending lots of time with good friends and good wine is a nontrivial consideration, as well.)

It's hard to believe it's been 16 years since I received my MLS from the University of Michigan and left for my first "real" job at the Library of Congress. It's been a wild ride since then. But my connections to friends from library school and my early days in LITA are still going strong.

I'll be speaking on Sunday at the Top Technology Trends program, where I get to talk about what I see on the horizon for libraries and librarians on the tech front. How can I not put blogs at or near the top of that list? And social software more broadly, as well. And the increasingly ubiquitous WiFi that enables the best blogging to take place--but which I suspect will be conspicuously lacking at the conference. (Ever since my buddies and lost control of providing Internet services at conferences, the level of innovation has dropped, and services in the "Internet Room" are about the same as they were nearly ten years ago...)

Librarians have always been early adopters of important communication technologies--from online databases to e-mail to gopher to the web, I got my first taste of just about everything technological that matters in library contexts, long before the rest of world was talking tech. My first book was on microcomputers in libraries, and my second book was also the second book written about the Internet.

But somehow in the years since I finished my doctoral program in LIS and took a job teaching IT, I've let my connection to the field become tenuous. And I'm looking forward to getting it back. I've agreed to serve on LITA's education committee for the upcoming year, in part because here at RIT we're starting to look at developing a digital library technology educational program (degree? certification? don't know) at RIT. It always feels good when the separate threads of your live start to weave together in a pattern that makes sense.

I'm encouraged to see librarians listed on Dave Winer's BloggerCon outline. Surprised not to see any librarian names in his "people to invite" list. Jenny Levine, obviously. What about Jessamyn West? Lou Rosenfeld? There are a few of us out there. And I hope to generate a little more library-world blogging interest while I'm there.

2 Comments

Good luck with your presentation and have fun at the conference.

Liz, as regards to BloggerCon, a misnomer if there is one -- the speakers are those Dave Winer chooses to invite and the attendees are by invitation only, also -- it's an elitist closed door private party paid for by Harvard.

I'd like to think that librarians, with their/your intense love and respect of openess would find this to be extremely unappealing and wouldn't be interested in attending.

To be honest, I skimmed that info, and didn't realize it was "invitation only." Yes, I'm distinctly uncomfortable with a conference that's "invitation only" and then publishes its invitation list online.

I have no quarrel with people getting together privately to discuss issues--sometimes you need closed-door meetings to keep the size manageable. But if you must do that, it seems to me to be bad form to maintain the evolving guest list online, making sure that everyone knows who's "in" and who's "out."

It surprises me, frankly, because when the ideas about a bloggers' conference first emerged, they seemed much more inclusive and democratic. Sorry to see the doors closinng so early, and the guest list looking so very, very familiar. How will BloggerCon be any different from Jupiter, I wonder? Or SuperNova? Or ETCON?

However, it's sure to happen one way or another, because it's got Harvard's imprimateur on it. And if it must happen, I still think it's good that librarians be on the list, if only because there will invevitably be press, and librarians get so little opportunity to be publicly linked with new technologies--despite their tendency to be early adopters.

 

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on June 14, 2003 4:02 PM.

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