This is the fourth post in my new Sarah’s Gadget Showcase series. #1: Audio Gadgets, #2: Cooking Gadgets, and #3: Reading Gadgets are also available.
_____________________________________________________________

This installment of the Gadget Showcase is a collection of random miscellaneous things I use…stuff that works well for me. This is truly a list of “a few of my favorite things.” Enjoy…and tell me what your favorite things are too in the comments section!

solar chargerFreeLoader Pro Solar Charger ($79.99)
As I often travel and run out of power for my laptop or smart phone, a portable power supply is super useful. I have started using this great solar charger. It will charge up just about any device and has a dozen or so little adaptors so it will fit whatever weirdo power input your device has. And hey—it’s solar, so you can get your green on.

 

 

led clockTIX LED Clock ($39.99)
I love this clock because it makes me think. Many people mistake it for a binary clock at first glance, but in fact you read the clock by counting the lighted boxes in each column…and that’s the time. I like that it’s colorful (the only colorful thing in my house). And I like that the lighted boxes rotate and move around.

 

 

RoombaiRobot Roomba 530 ($349.99)
Why have a vacuum when you can have a robot? It cleans the floors probably better than I would with a manual vacuum cleaner. I love just pushing the little button and letting it do its thing in the room. It handles hard floors and carpeting well. I also love that it doubles as a ride for my cats (little Fiona has figured out that pushing the button will start it up and she’ll ride it around). I have the basic level Roomba, but if you want to throw another $200 at a purchase you can get a super advanced Roomba instead with fancy scheduling features and what not. Yay for robots!

Dyson Air MultiplierDyson Air Multiplier ($299 and up)
Space age air circulation baby! I am very sound sensitive (and smell sensitive, light sensitive…I’m just a sensitive girl!). The sound of fan blades drives me nuts…that “whoomp whoomp” grates on my nerves. But when it’s hot and you’re lacking AC, you need a fan (and icy drinks, cold showers, and popsicles). The Dyson Air Multiplier works as well as a fan, is quieter, creates a more consistent white noise sound, and is much easier to clean since there are no blades. And it looks cool and space-agey. One problem: it’s crazy expensive. The one I have I got with a stockpile of Best Buy gift cards that I didn’t have anything else to spend them on. I don’t know that I’d buy another unless the price goes down.

sleep machineAdaptive Sound+Sleep Therapy System ($99.99)
Insomnia, anyone? This is the best sleep machine, bar none, that I’ve ever heard. It has 10 different sounds to pick from (my favorites are rainfall, ocean, and white noise). The sounds are also all naturally recorded, so it’s not some stupid 60 second loop of mechanically-generated “rain noise” or something. The speaker system is of a totally decent quality. You can set it to a timer. But here are the two coolest features: 1) The Adaptive Setting will set the system to increase or decrease the volume as the ambient room volume goes up or down (read: neighbors upstairs stomping around = volume goes up to cover it); and 2) The Richness Setting will add more or less complexity to the sound you choose, e.g. thunder or bird noises to the rainfall sound. I want to offer up a huge thanks to Michael Porter for introducing me to this gem of a sleep-assisting gadget.

heating padTheraTherm Digital Moist Heating Pad ($74.95)
It’s a heating pad. How cool can it be? Answer: pretty freaking cool. This heating pad draws moisture from the air to provide a moist heat, which is better for your skin and is more penetrating as well. In addition, this bad boy has a programmable digital controller where you can set the exact temperature (I hover around 128 but it goes all the way up to 166) and the time duration (from 1-60 minutes). When my back is sore or even when I’m just a little chilly, I use this heating pad and can fall asleep without worrying about burning myself or setting fire to my bed. Avoidance of accidental fire and skin grafts is always a plus.

dr. riter's real easeDr. Riter’s Real Ease ($35.99)
Keeping on the pain relief theme, this neck support is the magic bullet that fixes most of my computer-use-induced neck problems. I’ve probably tried a dozen different neck stretchers, massagers, supporters, pillows, you name it. This is the only one that does a thing for me. It’s just some foam on top of a curvy piece of plastic—that’s it. But you lay down on the floor with this supporting your neck, and minutes later all that tension just flows out and those muscles reconfigure themselves into the spots they’re supposed to be—you know, supporting your spine instead of wrenching it out of place.

littermaid litter boxLitterMaid Elite Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($129.99)
I love cats. I hate cat litter. I think training your cat to use a human toilet is just weird. So, I deal with the litter. When I got my new kittens, I thought I’d try a self-cleaning litter box. This one has definite pros and cons. Pro: It scoops itself (most of the time). Con: It misses my kittens sometimes because they’re so small they still don’t trigger the sensors, so stuff builds up. Pro: You can set a sleep timer so it doesn’t go off in the middle of the night. Con: When it does go off it is crazy loud. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with this or go back to a normal box. But it’s interesting…and the principle of it is a good one—make a robot do something I’d rather not do. And let me offer advanced apologies to future sentient AI species reading this; I value your existence and worship my superior robot overlords.

I’ve appeared on three notable shows recently that I wanted to plug and mention because they’re great shows.  So check out the other non-Sarah episodes–they’re stellar!  Good shows to subscribe to, for sure.

Circulating Ideas (podcast hosted by Steve Thomas) – I appear on Episode 6 talking about digital content, Star Trek, readers’ privacy, and other related stuff.

Bibliotech (podcast hosted by Kayhan Boncoglu) – I appear on Episode 8 talking about my very angry reaction to the Amazon and Overdrive partnership to lend Kindle eBooks, and some other non-grumpy things as well.

And lastly I got to fulfill a longtime geek girl dream by appearing on the TWiT network on the Tech News Today show (w00t!) along with the amazing Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Iyaz Akhtar, and Jason Howell.  I’m on Episode 367 where we talk about a whole bunch of stuff (including eBook reader market share).  See below for video.  I’ll also be appearing on TWiT again on Monday on the FourCast show (a future-prediction show with Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson).  Watch live at 4pm PST Monday!

I’m excited to be teaching a set of two 90-minute workshops for ALA TechSource in December about eBooks.  The title is E-Books and Access: Upholding Library Values, held the 7th and 14th of December.

So what am I going to talk about?

  • Review of the various for-profit, non-profit, and free sources for e-books
  • Critical licensing terms to consider when acquiring e-books
  • The evolving notion of the e-book
  • How library e-book services can be guided by library values

If you have things you want to make sure I cover, comment below or drop me an email or DM or Skype or chat or whatever :)

The world of eBooks is always changing and so much has happened just in the last couple of days with Amazon announcing their “lending library” (and I do put that in quotes for a reason), changes to eBrary and Gale eBooks, etc.  I put together a reading list of a few key posts that I think help frame the discussion of digital content in libraries.

You can sign up for the workshop now, either as an individual or with the group rate for your library.

It’s Halloween, so I’m going to post about something that’s scary. Harassment and stalking.  This post is stimulated by a recent event, at a recent speaking engagement, where I dealt with a particularly aggressive person…and fought back.  This is another form of fighting back.  Words are my strength, so here you go.

There is a bit of a pestilence on female public figures, including those of us in the library world.  Certain men, and on occasion women, behave rather inappropriately toward us.  For years I thought it was something that only I was experiencing. Then I started talking with my female colleagues—others who speak, write, or are otherwise in the bibliosphere’s public eye.  I have been surprised to learn how many women experience this inappropriate craziness from fellow librarians.

I Don’t Want Your Underwear

The following are all examples of things that have happened to me, and in every case the perpetrator is another librarian.  I know—hard to believe.  But a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science does not necessarily mean that you are sane.

I provide these examples in the hopes that others experiencing similar situations will speak up in the comments about what’s happened to them, and that potential future idiots will take this as a big “NO” sign:

  1. Small inappropriate touches (e.g. sliding your hand around my waist and squeezing, kissing me on the lips to say hello instead of shaking my hand like a normal person, caressing my cheek during a conversation, etc.).
  2. Going home after a long day at work and finding a stranger on my doorstep with flowers and a box with lingerie, blocking access to my front door and asking me to marry him.  I beat a hasty retreat to my car, locked it, and called the police.
  3. Receiving notes at the hotel desk during a conference with sexual propositions, questions about what I was wearing under my dress that day, etc.
  4. Getting my ass grabbed during a hug.  First time that happened, I was so shocked I just walked away.  Second, third, and fourth times the guys got slapped.
  5. Standing in line for the open bar at an exhibits opening gala and having someone recite chapter and verse what I did the previous weekend, my cat’s name, my latest project at work, and my hometown’s recent stormy weather.
  6. Gifts of various kinds…from benign (coffee) to extra creepy (fuzzy handcuffs and a whip).  General rule: If I don’t know you, don’t send me presents.  Period.
  7. Having someone favorite just about every photo I’ve posted of me on Flickr.  We do get notifications when that happens, guys…instant stalker indicator.
  8. Having someone come up behind me, press some choice bits into my body, and put his arms around my waist. This was just offstage after I spoke—dozens of other people around.  This guy got cold-cocked in the face by yours truly and walked away bloody, escorted by security.  There is only one person I will let touch me in that manner. And guess what?  It’s not you.
  9. Hearing a whisper in my ear at a speaker’s reception: “I want to **** you until you cry.”  My response included another few choice **** words.
  10. Receiving a marriage proposal as a series of poster-boards displayed from the audience to me while I was speaking.  Points for cleverness, but disruptive to my talk…and if we’ve never been on a date, I can offer a 100% guarantee that I will turn your proposal down.
  11. Receiving a package in the mail sent to my library containing a pair of men’s underwear with a note reading “You can put these on me and then take them off the next time I see you” (from someone I did not know at all).  I have been sent two pairs of men’s underwear from strangers. Note to guys: not sexy.

I have heard of many other similar experiences from many other female speakers.  Touching, come-ons, proposals…we’ve had it all.  It’s almost all harassment and some is actual stalking.

The Effect of Being Accosted by Creepy Dudes

These experiences used to create a great deal of fear for me.  Several years ago, I became afraid of these individuals, but also afraid to go out in public without a friend or family member present.  I would (sometimes literally) cling to guybrarian friends at conferences…hoping to keep the creeps at bay.  Big thanks go out to those guybrarian saviors—you know who you are.

Now the fear is gone and has been replaced with disgust and irritation.  And anger…let’s not forget the anger.  Now if you mess with me, I will mess with you right back—either through the law enforcement system, punching or kicking you, or by informing your employer.  If you’re on work time and harassing a fellow librarian, guess what buster?  You just risked a lawsuit for your city/county/company/university.

If you want to brand yourself as a creep forever in my mind, by all means be a jackass and do one of the above.  You may even get touched by me for your trouble—of course that touch will take the form of an uppercut to your chin (a move which my massage therapist, of all people, recently taught me to perform quite well…thanks Adam).

I’m Available, But Not to You

Let’s be clear.  Just because I am a single woman under 40, a public figure, kind to strangers, and dress a little differently, does not give you permission, nor is it an invitation, to touch me, send me innuendo-laden Twitter messages, or say inappropriate things in my ear.  Don’t be overly familiar with me.  And if you touch me, you just invited a motherfucking throwdown.  I’m little but I’m scrappy.  I will hurt you.

I unfortunately have more than my fair share of bona fide stalkers.  I’d categorize four different “problem people” as stalkers at present.  Two stalker-types from past years have gone incommunicado after being slapped with restraining orders (thankfully).  And really, guys, something in your brain has to click and tell you you’ve gone too far if a woman even threatens a restraining order.  That should be enough.  But, yes, I know…we’re not dealing with logical thought here.

Is It Librarians?

We are a somewhat more socially inept group than you average population.  I know, I’m generalizing.  But you know it’s true.  It’s also true of other fields, like the tech world – another place where publicly-visible women get an especially lovely sampling of crazy stalker dudes.  Is it that we are just so shy, so inexperienced in the romantic world, that some of us just don’t know where the “appropriate line” is?  Maybe.  Is it a higher incidence of mental illness, especially Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Most of us are sane and nice, and I try to remember that when stuff like this happens.

Is It Me?

I’ve been writing and speaking for libraries and non-profits for close to a decade now.  I put myself out there – personally and professionally – and I don’t try to delineate between the two whatsoever.  My “librarian self” is so interwoven with my “writer/hiking/neo-goth/everything-else self” that I can’t draw some neat line down the middle of my consciousness.

I also consciously “live out loud” by posting copiously to social networks, sometimes with stuff that would make me unelectable if I were ever crazy enough to want to run for political office.  Things like photos of me in a Catwoman costume, about drinking absinthe at 2am, which songs I find romantic, etc.  I get it—I’m not conservative in the sharing of my brain’s inner workings or what my life is like.  However, that is absolutely not an invitation to tell me what you want to do to me when I’m out of my Catwoman costume, or what beverages you want to drink off of my stomach, or to tell me what song you listen to when you think about me and…err…find pleasure in your own company.

I’ve been told by friends and family members concerned for my safety to just start wear longer skirts (and no stiletto heels), not smile as much, stop posting to Twitter and Facebook, and even to bring a policeman as my bodyguard to future events (I kinda like that last idea, actually…but only if he’ll have a nice glass of Zinfandel with me afterward).  But in general, I refuse to give in to fear.  The idiots will keep coming.  Now I just know how to deal with them better.

Tips for the (Would-Be) Accosters

Just don’t do it.  Simple.  If you have a crush on someone, recognize it for what it is—a crush.  You can tell the person how smart you think (s)he is, how cool you think (s)he is, and then invite the person out for coffee.  That’s the appropriate social action…nothing involving flowers, underwear, or marriage proposals.  And you know…you are a librarian.  You do know how to do research.  So research social mores and figure out some appropriate ways to show someone you like her or him.

Tips for the Accosted

  • Don’t be quiet.  Tell the offender immediately what (s)he did wrong.
  • Tell the person what the consequences will be the next time something similar happens.
  • Keep records of who did what when.
  • Block offenders on the social networks if necessary and don’t feel bad for a second for doing so.
  • Inform the police if things even begin to bleed over into stalker territory.  If it even occurs to you that maybe it’s stalking, it probably is.  Act immediately.

If you have had similar bad “creepy person” experiences, or success with coping with these experiences, please comment.  Share your story.  Tell it loud.

Below are my 3 slide decks from Internet Librarian 2011.  Some of the slides formatted a little weird upon upload, but I have a severe cold and am too tired to try to fix it.  Sorry.

 

Internet Librarian 2011: Designing for Optimal UX

Nate Hill and Chris Noll

Libraries are moving from the consumption of knowledge to the creation of knowledge.  There is no publicly funded institution that supports content creation.  This is a role that libraries can, and should, fill.  People with ideas need the resources and knowledge to be able to share those ideas with others.  Nate and Chris talked about their Library Lab project – a modular collection of structures that supports content creation.   We are moving from a read environment to a read/write environment.  Noll is part of Noll and Tam Architects, and they work on many projects with libraries to build services that work for their users.  One project they worked on is the Library-a-Go-Go at the Contra Costa County Library – a book vending machine that they put out in BART transit stations and shopping malls.  The Washington County Library in Minnesota has a manual version of that.  The Redmond Ridge Library Express has a small unstaffed library that you have to swipe your card to get into.  The Boston Chinatown Storefront Library was a one-year pop-up branch, with furniture designed and fabricated by architecture students.  In Houston they have Library Express—a few bookshelves and chairs, but a way of getting some kind of library presence in the neighborhoods they serve.  DC Public Library offers small library kiosks.  The Greenbridge Library is part of the community center.  London has Idea Stores—focusing on healthy living, employment, and traditional library services.  (Sarah’s Note: Nice!  I want to rename my library the Idea Store!)  They get very high satisfaction ratings from users and very low costs for services.  Chris also showed the Morgan Hill Library’s Grab and Go services, and libraries in a phone booth and at a bus stop, and a Denmark library’s Mindspot trailer library.  Onto Library Lab.  Digital collections and services are great, but we still need a physical space to facilitate community contributions to this digital collection.  Library Lab was originally proposed as a DPLA Beta Sprint project, but rejected.  But it’s still a cool project!  So, there are 11 modules, each of which offers 3 levels of scaling.  Modules include things like: collaborate, scanner, audio remix & record, video remix & record, display, printing, hardware checkout, digital design, etc.  The modules are distributed with a creative commons license and are all designed to be hackable.  They’re designed to be constructed out of flexible Penrose tiling.  The 10 basic panel shapes make every iteration of the different modules.  They are all flexible, movable, and changeable.  I WANT THIS NOW!

Internet Librarian 2011: Community Embraces Online 11:1

Denise Siers, Melissa Falgout, and David Wasserman

Denise Siers gave us an overview of the King County Library System: a large system serving many people over a large geographic area.  They have 1 million card-holders, 90% of whom have used the library in the last year.  They have 10 million visits to the physical libraries, and the website has 31 million visits and the catalog has 84.5 million visits.  That’s a ratio of 11:1 – 11 times as much web traffic as foot traffic.  (Sarah’s note: I’m willing to bet that any library would find similar numbers.)  To reach all users, they need to deliver services in the library, beyond the building with mobile library services (bookmobile type stuff), and online.  Even in-library services, like summer reading, often have online components.

David Wasserman talked about his small team of web services staff (2 ½ people total, including him).  They run the social media presences, create videos for the website, and more.  Part of that is the online collections maintenance – eBooks, databases, software.  Focusing on usage-driven collections and offering staff training on key services.  In 2012 they anticipate spending even more money on eBooks than before.  They are past the phase of experimentation for experimentation’s sake.  Their big two focus areas are children’s services and digital reading.  They have a companion website called Tell Me a Story for kids.  They reach significantly more patrons with videos than they do in-person (more efficient use of staff time).  They bring talented staff into the limelight with these services whenever they can.  They’re on Facebook and Twitter and get the most interaction when they give people something worth commenting about.  They target a lot of their content toward women between 24 and 54.  He recommends Hootsuite and asking them for the non-profit rate professional account.  They also offer The People’s University through YouTube videos, web guides, NetMasters, digital signage, and social promotion.  Over 40% of their digital content (eBook) downloads go right to mobile devices.

Melissa Falgout gave us some info on what the web services team is up to.  They have the Evergreen open source catalog.  KCLS.org and their SharePoint intranet are also managed by the web services team.  Statistics show that their patrons want to self-serve, to do things themselves, so the team’s focus is on enabling that process whenever possible.  Their help desk and knowledge base is software-based and provides a professional, fully functional help solution for users.  The goal is to provide 24 hour patron control and access to library services.  They also provide on-site self-check-in stations.  Web services conducted usability throughout the process of migrating from III to Evergreen.  The upgrade cycles are continuous, and this can be frustrating for some staff and users.  They have a mobile catalog that is a mobile site (jquery based), not an app.  They have a Boopsie app too.  Their children’s catalog is a graphical access point and is still in the creation phase (Sarah’s Note: I can’t wait to see this when it’s out in beta!).  They also offer This Just In – a mobile notification system for new items in a user’s chosen interest areas

Denise Siers closed out with some interesting stats.  There are 5.5 billion mobile devices right now, which is 90% of the world’s population.  Texting is replacing voice communication.  No matter what type of library you have or where your users are from, the mobile device is replacing laptops and desktops as a primary way that people access our services.  KCLS surveyed over 5,000 patrons about their user experiences.  This developed a strategic blueprint for the library—and that really did gear their goals for the next years (e.g. Evergreen, a wayfinding program in the libraries, etc.).  They have a Future Services Strategy which looks at standard public library services, but delivering them using the 3 methods of in the library, beyond the building, and online.  Changing technology, demographics, and the fiscal outlook drove their planning.

Internet Librarian 2011: Ebooks & the Future of Publishing, Lending, Learning

David Bowers and Stephen Abram

David Bowers is from Oxford University Press.  Libraries are still a place that people interested in learning can gather and share information.  “Libraries are the original Google.” Oxford University Press is a business with one share-holder—the university.  Their goal is to share information with the larger world.  He mentioned Oxford Scholarship Online.  Overdrive predicts there will be 16 million downloads of eBooks this year.  Oxford has seen a similar huge growth in eBook usage.  As a publisher they’re being approached all the time by companies wanting to work to distribute their digital content.  What’s changed over the last two years is how telecommunications companies can share information with individuals.  The iPhone took power away from AT&T, Verizon, etc. and allowed users to decide which apps and content they put on their devices.

Stephen Abram is talking about Gale Cengage’s project which is investing $100 million in figuring out what a textbook will look like over time, what a children’s book will look like in 2020, what’s going to happen with large print?  Stephen emphasized the importance of this content being ADA-compliant.  The content also needs to be learning-style independent.  Look at systemwide adoption of textbooks and focus on what makes learning successful.  They’re testing 750 “textbook objects” in 150 schools across America.  How do we remove the hard line between the library and the textbook in the classroom?  Multimedia is essential.  The book as a solid stable object is dying, but that’s okay.  We have games, audio, video and other ways to tell stories in a blended environment.

Below is my 10 minute rant about why the Kindle format lending from Overdrive is anti-user, anti-intellectual freedom, anti-library, and something that all librarians should be aware of and disturbed by.  Amazon and Overdrive did wrong by us, and we bent over and took it.  Watch to learn more.  Warning: some language may be NSFW.

Note: Hopefully the video will stay up this time.  I posted it last night and it was flagged and taken down within an hour.  I’ll give you two guesses which company was behind that…

Internet Librarian 2011: Keynote – Lee Raine (Pew Internet and American Life Project)

Raine started with a LOLcat (yep, he knows his crowd).  Pew, pew, pew!  Raine says that the Oxford English Dictionary needs to add a word: “Tweckle” – to abuse a speaker to Twitter followers in the audience while he/she is speaking.

5 questions for librarians as they ponder learning communities:

  1. What is the future of knowledge? How is it created and disseminated?
  2. What is the future of reference expertise?  Literacy and search?
  3. What is the future of public technology Knowledge containers? Divides? Access/lending models?
  4. What is the future of learning spaces? Collaboration? Alliances? Ownership?
  5. What is the future of community anchor institutions? In a knowledge economy?

As of August, 78% of American adults use the internet, and 62% have broadband at home.  Consequences for the learning ecosystem: stuff is coming at us faster, and there’s more stuff, and amateur experts are sharing their information with us easily.

65% of internet users are on social networking sites.  This is the most popular way that people create content and add to the collective experience of the web.  55% share photos, 37% contribute rankings and ratings, 33% create content tags, 14% are bloggers, 13% use Twitter, and only 6% use location-based services like Foursquare.

Raine says “It’s impossible today to ask ‘Who’s a blog reader?’ because blogs look like high end media sites now.  People don’t know they’re reading blogs.”

84% of American adults use mobile phones.  It’s the fastest growing consumer technology in the history of our species.  The # of mobile subscribers in America – 327.6 million phones, greater than the number of people who live in this country.  It’s expected that everyone will now have a mobile phone and be connected.

59% of adults are mobile users (this counts both smart phones and mobile wi-fi use on things like laptops and tablets).  This has changed the way people access information and media.  35% own smart phones.

56% of adults own laptops, 52% own DVRs, 44% own MP3 players, 42% own game consoles, 12% own eBook readers, 9% have tablets.  And yet libraries are all uber-focused on eBook readers and tablets.  Raine says “It’s an elite audience.  I can’t overstate that it’s not everybody.  It is not the majority experience that everyone is comfortable with these gadgets.”

We have to serve multiple audiences in multiple ways.  Mobile connectivity means anywhere, anytime, on any device.  It’s upgraded the experience of real time information in people’s lives.  That real-time demand didn’t exist during the analog days.  He recommends the book Alone Together.

Social networking – 50% of all adults (77% of teenagers) use social networking sites.  People over age 65 are a fast growing group for adoption of social networking.  Social media is more important in people’s lives as they learn.

The coping strategies they use to deal with the information flood come from their networks of people as filters.  People are sentries of information.  Rather than checking in with the TV or radio news first thing when they wake up, many people check in with Twitter or Facebook first as a way to see what’s happening.  (Sarah’s note: I’ve been doing that with Twitter, and now Google+ too, for a couple of years).  Social networks also provide evaluators – we turn to our networks and ask “what do you make of this?”  Social networks are really important signal-senders about what’s true and what’s trustworthy.  Librarians should think about ourselves as being nodes in people’s networks.  We have been in this role forever, but with social networks we have a much easier way to intervene in these conversations and help.  Social networks also serve as audiences.  New media are the new neighborhood.  We like to show off for our audiences, to increase our status, be helpful, build friendships and community.  We act very consciously of the fact that there’s an audience out there, and that does inherently affect what we create.

In 1997 Shana Ratner wrote an article: “Emerging Issues in Learning Communities.”  It looked at the old model (learning as transaction) compared to the new iteration (learning as process).  In the old way of thinking, knowledge was objective and certain.  In the new model, knowledge is subjective and provisional.  And there is often disagreement about which new knowledge will supersede existing knowledge.  In the old system learners received knowledge and in the new model learners help create knowledge.  In the old model knowledge was organized in stable hierarchical structures that were treated independently of each other.  Now knowledge is organized ecologically – disciplines are integrative and interactive.  In the old model, we learned passively by listening and watching, and in the new model we learn actively and we manage our own learning processes.  In the old model intelligence was based on our individual abilities.  In the new model intelligence is based on our learning communities.

What’s the future of reference expertise?  The embedded librarian model seems to Raine that this is a good idea.  This is librarian as scout for relevant material (think about the Occupy movement librarians who are on the streets helping people find information and entertainment during the protests—awesome!).  Librarians are good reviewers and synthesizers, organizers and taxonomy creators.  There are ways that librarians think like nobody else to make sure that things are organized in a systematic way that will actually make sense to the users of the system.  Librarians can also be the organizational steward of bonding capital—deepening relationships we already have.  But maybe we can be steward of bridging capital too—taking individuals outside of their known environments, exposing them to things they didn’t know about but will care about knowing about.  “Librarians are serendipity agents.”

Another model for modern reference—Knowledge concierge/valet in a learning community.  Librarians should be teachers of social media as we’re often among the first people to adopt these technologies. (Sarah’s note: This was why I was teaching Google+ classes at our library while the service was still in beta—super popular class, btw).  Librarians are fact checkers, transparency assessors, and relevance arbiters.  He quoted Jeff Jarvis: “Do what you do best, and link to the rest.”  Links are our friends and making sure people can connect to information that we didn’t create is just as important as connecting them with information we did create.

We need to model the behavior of perpetual learners, so that when new stuff comes into our world and their world we can help them navigate it.

What’s the future of public technology?  When they asked experts what gadgets will be hot.  81% of the group said they didn’t have a clue and that what will be hot in 2020 will come out of the blue.  Themes—experts never would have predicted iPhones 10 years earlier, the innovation ecosystem will change with bandwidth and processing growth.  The era of data is upon us.  Sensors will likely proliferate.  Mobile connectivity and location-based services will grow.  Screens will be bigger and thinner, and possibly 3D.  We will have more consolidated all-purpose devices and apps.

What is the future of learning spaces?  They’re going to be attuned to new kinds of learners.  People are much more likely to be self-starters to gather information.  They don’t think they have to be in a classroom to learn.  In a world of ubiquitous search, they can be querying their friends, searching on their own, and learning.  They also work now in communities to learn instead of making it a solitary experience.  The value of amateur experts is rising – people are their own individual nodes of production.  People themselves can be sharing their stories even if they don’t have the credentials that would have been demanded in the past.

“Remember the war between traditional journalists and bloggers?  How 2003 is that?”  There’s a new war now between credentialed scientists and citizen scientists.  The Smithsonian is working with citizen scientists on programs and data now, and learning much more than they ever could through just traditional credentialed scientists.  This is also true of peer health networks – tips about how to get through daily life, how to cope, care provider recommendations, etc.

What about libraries as anchor community institutions?  ALA put out a guidebook in June about how to think about libraries as these types of institutions in our communities.  Librarians have to wrestle with how much of our work is aimed at helping individuals and how much is aimed at helping the community at large.  Are libraries places for solitary study or community-based study?  Are you a collection library or are you a creation library?  Are you a portal/pathway to information or are you an archive?  ALL REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!!!

Raine talked a bit about the Pew/Gates Foundation study about libraries that’s coming up (I’m on the advisory group!) – a consumer typology of libraries that will look at the most die hard library users to people who don’t use libraries.  Obviously libraries are in transition and would like some data to help us get through these pressing questions.  Libraries have taken significant steps down the pathway toward change, however.  The study will also look at how we map with other institutions in our communities (businesses, hospitals, etc.).

7ads6x98y