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Next Generation Librarians :Visions of Our Future

Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Penn State, began her presentation with a video that demonstrated the difficulty of finding something as basic as Time Magazine in the library.

The focus of Cahoy’s presentation was on the library’s web interface. She spoke about using the library’s web site as an instruction tool. Many sites have too many dead ends and roadblocks. Libraries need to create a system that doesn’t need to be taught. Libraries need to move beyond using their web sites as reflections of their organizational models to viewing them as an application and teaching tool. Cahoy believes that students want to follow their own paths and not our links. Students like interactive sites and visual representations that bring our collections to life. The time is right to reinvent the web.

Cahoy pointed out several libraries with good examples of interactive and/or visual representation on their web sites: University of Minnesota’s assignment calculator; Maryville University’s Firefox library toolbar; Brigham Young University Library web page; the use of AquaBrowser on the Queens Library web site; and the open source Nelsonville Public Library site.

Cahoy believes libraries need to use their expertise to make the library’s online presence approach the simplicity and power of the internet. We can get there by involving students in all parts of the process. Public services people need to be involved as well.

Cody Hanson, University of Minnesota, was the second speaker. His presentation, “A Lesson from Web 2.0 for Academic Libraries, focused on adding value to the information we provide to patrons by putting the expertise of librarians “out there.? Examples of sites included Readit and Newsvine. Both allow users to read news events and add their own. Newsvine gathers the latest news and displays it based on what users find important. Digg.com is “all about user powered content. Everything is submitted and voted on by the Digg community. Share, discover, bookmark, and promote stuff that's important to you!?

Difference between Digg and library is that Digg is publicly vetted by users. Ratings are visible and users can determine the reliability of an article by looking at the raters history of “digging?. Librarians do a good job of evaluating, but in our case very little of the process is visible. Online identity is big part of our patron’s lives and we need to be there, too, by personally and professionally evaluating books and articles. We need to put our expertise out there by exposing our selection process and expertise. By doing this we will add value to the information we provide in the same way we add value by staffing our bricks and mortars buildings

Emily Barton, from Michigan State, focused her remarks on getting the physical building into the flow by providing the right kind of services in the library. We need to know who our users are (Wired, March 2007, article on the “Snack Culture?). Look at their needs from their perspective, not from the view of traditional library services. Librarians need to go out and see what students are really doing. Play is learning the 2.0 way. We need to assess and evaluate what we are doing, how services are being used, and by whom. Libraries need to continually evaluate and assess. Keep an open mind and keep up with users. The best thing libraries can do is prove our value, not just profess it. If you have to tell people it is cool, then by definition it isn’t. Legacy services and functions that seem right for retirement or have no continuing value should be let go. There is no longer a set definition of what an academic library is. We need to do what we can to be relevant on campus and to students


Im not really sure on the whole web 2.0 thing. I mean slowly the solid and reputable information you could reply on is now being lost with the ability for any one to add content in "web2.0"

The one thing I don't like about the web 2.0 phenomena is how commercialized it is. I love the concept of user-contributed content building communities, I don't like the idea of a corporate overlord managing the profitability of those communities...

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