solve the problem of now
Post on 11-Feb-2017
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Solve the problem of Now
Im honored to be here and thank you for coming. When youre asked to talk about solving library problems with technology, theres just so much to say you have to be selective without standing on your soap box. I know most of you are technologists and this may come across like a talk for the sales team, but I promise you its not.1
Libraries are changing. So are our needs.
To solve a problem, you need to know what that problem is. 2
We might as well be trying to send a text message with a rotary phone
MARC as Linked Data?
Let me tell you a secret, but you cant tell anyone. No one knows this but librarians: they dont really like MARC. *gasp* but shhh! You cant tell anyone that.
At one point MARC was incredible, it was innovative, and we loved it. It allowed us to create records that could be read by computers, which is a bit ironic since now it is a very restrictive language for working across the universal web interface... and being read by the global computer.
We all want to move forward with linked data and connectivity but in order to do this we REALLY need library systems that allows us to work with records in MULTIPLE formats, formats that arent restrictive and archaic like MARC formats that are universal to the web. 100% of systems outside of the library ecosystem do not support MARC. We need a library system that will understand formats that are not MARC, something that can be transmitted, manipulated and arranged relatively easily by programmers -- like XML or RDF. As we continue down the road of internet of things and connectivity, the ability to easily work across platforms is a must, and MARC just doesnt allow that. No other profession uses MARC or anything like it. Doing any form of linked data with MARC we might as well be trying to send a text message from a rotary phone. We wont be able to progress in the direction we need to with this still being the standard format of library records.
Work on that. You want to use technology to solve library problems? Start with that. When you solve that, we can talk some more.
We spend a lot of time working around the ILS because its no longer serving the purposes we need.
Can I tell you another secret about librarians? This one I think youll be smart to listen to. EBSCO sits in a really good position given their recent commitment to the open source ILS OLE. Theyve previously not been contenders to enable change in one of the core fundamental tools of libraries and now committed to continue development on a tool that has been developed by librarians for libraries.
Youre new to a game thats been a round for a while, theres a lot of knowledge about how we want the game to change.
Really what is comes down to it is that MARC and the ILS have been the primary focus of our concerns for years and we need to move beyond that and work towards building systems that can evolve as the needs of libraries and librarians evolve.
I propose that you move away the idea of an all in one fully integrated library system and focus more on developing a modular system that is fluid and evolves with the rest of library technologies.
Conceptually OLE is supposed to achieve this, whether that continues to progress in that direction is up to you. Weve spent the last several years building repositories of data and content and cataloging metadata, do we need to continue to have a conventional ILS modules, like acquisitions or cataloging? or can we leverage the resources we have, to move beyond the traditional modules.
recapWhitni Watkins | @_whitni | whitni.xyzSolve problems that exist now.Dont get buried with the drive to create big shiny all encompassing new tools.Our most used tools are outdated and broken.
Dont get buried with the drive to create big shiny new tools, work on creating new process to fix broken old tools. Solve problems that exist nowOur most used library tools are outdated or broken.
We are surrounded by innovation. Living in a world of technology, we are often pushed to do the next big thing, and end up getting ahead of ourselves and problems that really need fixing get put on the back burner or forgotten. Librarians are incredible critical thinkers. We are innately problem solvers and in our profession we are also often in situations where we need to do more with less, so we figure out how to make something work the way we need it too because often the tool we need doesnt exist. Take for example these tools, created by librarians (some with funding and some without, some with teams, some built by an individual) to solve a REAL library problem, problems that plague us on a daily basis.
I found that I could no longer use their software. So I started to develop my own utility to suit my needs. Terry Reese
MARCEdit - -this software is a prime example of using technology to solve a library problem. Almost 2 decades ago, Oregon State University library was undergoing a major database clean-up due to thousands of MARC records that needed to be fixed. Terry Reese, an OSU library employee, developed MARCEdit to make the process of fixing those record a much more manageable task. No one paid him to do this, he just saw a problem that needed fixing, and access to technology to build something to solve it. It is an incredible tool for database maintenance, that allows for very precise customization of records, using batch tools, APIs, Regular expressions, text editing, record conversion tools, and many other functions that libraries need because data is messy and the functionality we have in our ILS often doesnt allow the precision of bulk change in a simple fashion that MARCEdit does. Its two decades old, and it is still used heavily, data librarians still LOVE it AND there was even money raised through crowdfunding to continue its development. If you ever want to learn a thing or two about phenomenal customer service, might I highly recommend reaching out to Terry. Hes got it on point. Terry maintains it on his own time, often updating and adding new features, he converses with librarians about things they want to see and functions they could live without, and works to develop the software with those things in mine. With the continued rise in electronic records, the need to manipulate large quantities of MARC records is necessary, along with the need to convert them to other formats for other repositories and systems, that *ahem* do not work with MARC. WHAT?!7
So yes, MarcEdit is a fantastic example of a tool that solved a necessary problem that exists in libraries and will continue to exist, the need to mass edit records and clean up data. One that has saved me hours of time and something Id gladly pay for. 8
It came down to realizing that the things we measured for library stats were mostly useless. I tried to imagine what would be useful stats to have and demystifying the building usage seemed like an obvious thing to try and do. Jason Griffey
Another project that is solving a current library problem is the Measure the Future project by Jason Griffey (and his team) which was funded by the Knight Foundation. Measure the Future is aimed to solve a long standing library problem. That problem being that we currently have no real means to measure the use of our physical spaces in a quantitative way so we can make better decisions on what we do with our spaces.
On the Measure the future website, the project is described as follows Imagine having a Google-Analytics-style dashboard for your library building: number of visits, what patrons browsed, what parts of the library were busy during which parts of the day, and more.
When asked where the idea for Measure the Future came about, Jason stated, it comes down to realizing that the things that we measured when I was doing stats for the Library were mostly useless. Size of collection and circulation stats really are just terrible stats overall, and don't reflect how we were being used by the patrons. So I tried to imagine what would be useful stats to have, what would allow us to make predictive, forward-facing decisions, and demystifying the building usage seemed like an obvious thing to try and do.
*That*, yall, is using technology to solve a library problem. 10
Talk about how the app came to be and also talk about the results of the space built that was not matching its assigned space use. 11
The design of good acoustics in libraries is not to lower noise levels but rather to enable spaces to better serve the purposes users need.
Another example I want to talk about is a mobile application Ive personally been working on, it doesnt have a name yet but we call it the Acoustic Spaces App working with colleagues in university engineering departments, were using echolocation technology to help libraries more easily assess the acoustics of their spaces. Think of your mobile device as a bat, sending out sound waves and analyzing the waves reflected back. Bats use echolocation for sight, were using the technology to analyze the received data to tell us how reflective a space is. The app will allow users to analyze their space to determine whether its acoustic profile is appropriate to how the space is intended to be used.. The design of good acoustics in libraries, contrary topopular belief, is not to lower noise levels, but ratherto enable effective communication in areas whereit is required, and reduce disruption in areas whereconcentration and quiet contemplation are needed.
THIS is technology to solve library problems.
Those are some really great ways problems in libraries are being addressed and solved. But not every idea goes as