April 2008 Archives

PLA in Minneapolis

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I recently spent a day at the Public Library Association’s Annual Conference here in Minneapolis and found all the sessions I attended worthwhile. Here’s a description of one I particularly enjoyed—Technozoo.
It seems that in just about every conference there’s at least one session devoted to technological trends and services that are impacting libraries. In Technozoo the presenter, Leonard Souza of Acidblue Ltd., focused on interactivity and the websites and gadgets that make it happen. Regarding websites he pointed out three examples: joost.com which makes television interactive, skype.com which enables us to call anywhere via our computers, and kiva.com which is an interactive source for loans. He also touched on many of the other (familiar) Web 2.0 sites like Flickr, MySpace, Blogger Del.icio.us, Blogger, YouTube, and Facebook. The idea here is that we should explore them and consider how we could use them to enable patrons to interact with the library. Souza also urged us to investigate the latest gadgets. He was particularly enthusiastic about the iPhone. You can place an order at Starbucks with an iPhone; why not use it to tap the resources of your local library? We also heard about how the Sony E-Reader and the Amazon Kindle are using e-ink (a “digital form of paper”) to provide user-friendly access to ebooks. Finally, there are video games and game consoles (Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and XBOX 360). In Souza’s opinion they’re here and we’d better make room for them.    In general, the upcoming generations of potential library users expect interactivity and we should provide it.
If you’d like to read more about the Technozoo, here’s a handout.


Thoughts on PLA 2008

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I've never been to the Public Library Association's Annual Conference. This year, since it was in Minneapolis, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn a little more about the public library world. I only attended one day of the conference, but it was well worth it! Below is a brief summary of one of the more thought provoking sessions I attended. Check out the pictures--notice the shape of their stacks! I also attached a document with a write-up of a couple of the sessions I attended as well.

Perhaps the most interesting session I attended at PLA was about the UK’s new IDEA stores. They’re not actual retail stores, they’re LIBRARIES. The first IDEA store opened in Tower Hamlets, the 4th most deprived area of the United Kingdom in 2002. The old library was getting little use and before plans to rebuild began, they realized they needed to survey their nonusers. They made house calls to talk with people who did not use the old library. The number one reason people did not visit the library was because it wasn’t located next to any other place they visited on a regular basis, like their grocery store. Another common reason those they surveyed did not come to the library was because of the physical condition of the building. It wasn’t a very welcoming place.

Those involved in this library revitalization project looked at the retail world as well, and based some of the services they now provide on that model. For example, all of the library staff at IDEA stores wear uniforms. When you walk in the door, the first thing you see is a coffee shop, with branded IDEA coffee mugs. IDEA stores are built next to other major stores (like supermarkets), and the IDEA stores stay open the same hours as the other retail stores. When the IDEA store is closed, they open them up for community events, like family sleepovers. The IDEA stores hire outside teachers/instructors and offer a wide range of classes.

Just by looking at the outside of an IDEA store, you would immediately recognize it as such. They’ve put a lot of effort into branding. Just take a look at the following photos:

Outside of an IDEA Store

Inside an IDEA Store

Here’s one interesting statistic: the IDEA Web site is in the top 2 for most visited Web sites in London (in the top 15 for the UK).

If you’re looking for more information, here’s a handout from the session.

Or, visit the IDEA Store Web site.

I would have liked to hear more about the inner workings of the library. How did the technical services dept. have to change to support the new IDEA Store? We just didn't have enough time in the session--and it was packed with people!! Anyone know any UK librarians?


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