I was at the ALA Annual Conference in DC last weekend, and among the presentations I attended I found LITA’s Top Technology Trends particularly lively and informative. Three themes stood out for me:
1.) The consolidation of ILS vendors has lead to unplanned migrations from one service to another. This has proven quite disruptive and has lead to increased distrust of vendors. As a result, libraries are becoming interested in open source alternatives for ILS. In general, there is intense uncertainty in the marketplace for systems and services.
2.) End users have become content creators in, for example, Flickr and YouTube, but there is no guarantee of preservation. Material of potential value to researchers like the emails from service people in Iraq is in danger of being lost. The Picture Australia project is responding to challenge of preserving that country’s cultural heritage by taking images that people upload to their Flickr pool and tagging them to make them findable.
3.) Technologies are just tools. It’s the outcome that matters. We need to be constantly considering what’s happening with people and how to serve them and not be afraid that they won’t love us if we give them what they want. Patrons are focused on problem-solving, and we can them by going beyond doing the same old things. We can make searching easier by combining taxonomies and folksonomies. We can make both our libraries and our websites sites for contact and collaboration. Both librarians and patrons need to be involved in developing technology to satisfy the need for information.