Quick Webinar Recap – TechTrends: ALA Annual Conference 2010

27 Jul

This morning I attended a webinar on Tech Trends from ALA TechSource. The webinar featured three panelists who looked back at their experiences at this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Washington to see what stood out as trends in library technology. Since I did not get the chance to attend ALA this year, I was really interested in this topic, and I was disappointed when the original webinar was cancelled due to technical difficulties.

The panelists at the webinar were Kate Sheehan, Tom Peters, and Marshall Breeding. Michael Stephens and Jason Griffey were originally on the panel but could not attend at the rescheduled time, so their slides and commentary are available here and here.

Each of the panelists this morning had something different to say about what they saw as the major tech trends at ALA10. I really enjoyed Kate Sheehan’s presentation (she has such great slides!), especially her point about “hyperlocal” services being an area where libraries can shine. Yes, technology allows a kind of global connection that hasn’t been possible in the past, but what people are really looking for is personalization. By combining new technologies with more “retro” services, libraries can better meet the needs of their local communities. She gave another example of this personalization in the moment when she “got” foursquare by checking in and getting a recommendation for a restaurant from someone she personally knew. It didn’t matter so much how many people were currently checked in near her location – it was the personal connection that mattered.

Tom Peters discussed trends in e-reading, accessibility, new revenue sources, and privacy. My main takeaways include the observation that some of the e-book vendors are showing interest in exploring how to support the library lending model, notably OverDrive and Blio (and notable for lack of interest – Google, Apple, and Amazon). I also agreed with the need he expressed for mainstream devices to be accessible for all users. Lastly, I appreciated the examples of tools for people to take back control of their online data like the Bynamite browser plugin and ReputationDefender.

Marshall Breeding spoke last and concentrated his remarks on big-ticket library technology products. He identified the major theme as incremental advancement rather than major breakthroughs. Cloud computing is gaining in use by libraries, as is open source ILS products. I’m not going to go through all the examples here but they are good to know about. I took a course in library school on open movements and libraries, including open source software, and I remain interested in this topic so I enjoyed this segment of the webinar.

TechSource will be posting the archive of the webinar on their blog tomorrow, and I highly recommend that anyone who is interested go give it a listen. I also recommend that you go through Jason Griffey’s and Michael Stephens’s slides linked above. I wish they had been able to attend this morning because they had good insights to add. I am especially interested in Michael Stephens’s thoughts on “Teaching and Learning in Flux” since I would like to be involved with information literacy instruction in my academic library career.

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