Another Whirlwind Internet Librarian Conference

IL2008, although showing some effects from the current economic train wreck, provided another set of outstanding sessions illustrating practical and innovative uses of 2.0 technology in libraries of all kinds, and a forecast of where all this may be heading in the near future.  I am blogging the sessions I attended at Conference Calls, where Sacramento Public Library staff records their conference notes, so I won’t go into session details here.

If I were to characterize what I learned this year, it would be that access to information needs to be “instant” and “visual”.  Presentations I attended emphasized that texting, social networks and mobile devices are allowing people to connect at a close to real-time level with each other, with information sources, and with entertainment.  And the library is NOT in the top ten with these folks.

Old-style library services that cast the librarian as the keeper of the information gate, although already on the way out, are not yet gone from today’s cities and schools.  However, even those libraries which have implemented services using today’s “in” technologies are not seeing the increase in business they expected.  In one case, only 3-5 texted ref questions per week make it to the librarian’s phone.  Hardlly a new wave – more like a stray splashlet.

So, now what do we do? With so much helping technology available free on the web, anyone can create movies, edit photos, produce presentations, set up communication accounts like Twitter, and install a social browser or other tool to keep track of it all.  I’d love to do all of that! But I had a “Duh!” moment when one presenter said it only works when your friends are using the same software.  It does no good to belong to a social network if you don’t actually network.  It’s no use being on MySpace if your friends are using Facebook, or to have a Friendfeed account if none of your friends does.  Either you make new online friends, or convince your real life friends to join the same networks you do.

Continuing ed – who knew it could be so much of a challenge finding someone to play with?! I need to light some fires in my current circle and also make new friends in the online “playground” I’ve discovered. Want to play? And you may bring a friend!

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