Monthly Archives: May 2011

Digital Natives Want It Now!

If you don’t believe me, just listen to this Digital Native.

Abby is from Australia and wants us all to get cracking to make her digital library a reality. [I do wonder how she knows so much about what she wants. Is that another Digital Native trait?]

Unfortunately, there won’t be a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in these Digital Natives’ youth. According to Ed Summers’ Blog (he’s a computer code writer at the Library of Congress) INKDROID, the agenda of the recent meeting of DPLA in Amsterdam (not as incongruous as it sounds) was for “The purpose of the May 16 and 17 expert working group meeting, …, is to begin to identify the characteristics of a technical infrastructure for the proposed DPLA.”

Let me reiterate – “begin to identify the characteristics of a technical infrastructure”. Begin to identify by a committee is the same as “We have no clue as to when this might eventually become reality, if ever!”

Summers goes on to write in his May 25 Post,

Prior to the meeting I read the DPLA Concept Note, watched the discussion list and wiki activity — but the DPLA still seemed somewhat hard to grasp to me. The thing I learned at the meeting in Amsterdam is that this nebulousness is by design–not by accident. The DPLA steering committee aren’t really pushing a particular solution that they have in mind. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus about what problem they are trying to solve. Instead the steering committee seem to be making a concerted effort to keep an open, beginners-mind about what a Digital Public Library of America might be.

Let me reiterate again – “In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus about what problem they are trying to solve.” So, all you Digital Natives out there just be patient and hope that there is a Digital Public Library of America for your kids.

One of the major proponents of DPLA is Robert Darnton, award-winning historian, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard, and director of the Harvard University Library.

Google demonstrated the possibility of transforming the intellectual riches of our libraries, books lying inert and underused on shelves, into an electronic database that could be tapped by anyone anywhere at any time,” wrote Robert Darnton last December in the New York Review of Books. “Why not adapt its formula for success to the public good,” he asked, “a digital library composed of virtually all the books in our greatest research libraries available free of charge to the entire citizenry, in fact, to everyone in the world?”

This is an interview from March, 2011 about The Digital Public Library of America. (Look for Part 2 on YouTube.)

Does anyone else feel like they are in a slow motion time warp where everything relating to libraries and information access is at least a decade behind where it should be, and moving in slow motion? Maybe it’s the commercial applications, like Darnton acknowledged, of so many advanced technology tools that it makes everything else look like horse and buggy times. It seems that all good ideas and intentions get sidetracked because the librarian profession doesn’t know squat about technology. We better smarten up and catch up!


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In Case You Didn’t Feel The Paradigm Shifting Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books”, an announcement by on May 19, 2011.

SEATTLE, May 19, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — … Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later in November 2007, Amazon introduced the revolutionary Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined.

“Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, “In addition, we’re excited by the response to Kindle with Special Offers for only $114, which has quickly become the bestselling member of the Kindle family. We continue to receive positive comments from customers on the low $114 price and the money-saving special offers. We’re grateful to our customers for continuing to make Kindle the bestselling e-reader in the world and the Kindle Store the most popular e-bookstore in the world.” [Emphasis added.]

Just in case you didn’t feel the paradigm shifting, the free market economy is determining the future of the 21st Century Library. Hang on for the ride to see where it ends.

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Create Your Vision of Your 21st Century Library!

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 5 – Vision Statement of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“What will you dare to dream that your library can become in this 21st Century environment? Whatever it is, dream it! and make it your vision statement (Lucas, 1998).

The reason the vision statement comes at this point in the process is because you have developed some parameters within which you can develop your vision that will make it realistic, achievable, and relevant to your library. If you began with the vision, you might not have a firm foundation of your mission around which you can develop a vision, and the vision might be so fantastic or seemingly unrealistic that it would be useless, seen by some as ridiculously unachievable or by others as highly inappropriate. [Pg. 27]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now in production by Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and an opportunity to pre-order the book, scheduled for release this summer.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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What Is Google Hiding From You?

Yesterday I posted that the last public school literacy program has been cut by lack of funding from USDOE. Information literacy is more important than ever, not only on its own merit, but it is even more critical that young people learn to evaluate and weigh information sources when we understand that Internet search engine algorithms are determining what we access. Your content is being filtered!

Eli Pariser is Executive Director of, and author of a just released book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. Review
Author Q&A with Eli Pariser

Q: What is a “Filter Bubble”?
A: We’re used to thinking of the Internet like an enormous library, with services like Google providing a universal map. But that’s no longer really the case. Sites from Google and Facebook to Yahoo News and the New York Times are now increasingly personalized – based on your web history, they filter information to show you the stuff they think you want to see. That can be very different from what everyone else sees – or from what we need to see.

Your filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.

A good nine minute video summary can be found on TED at Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”.

Do you think you’re getting the best results from your Internet searches because you’re a librarian?


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Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program Eliminated

Just when I begin to think the future of libraries is very bleak, something comes along to show that the future is SO UNPREDICTABLE that nothing can be foreseen with any reliance. ALA tells us that literacy within our schools is no longer a priority for our government.

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.

“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.

“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.”

Nancy Everhart, president of the ALA’s Association of School Librarians (AASL), said school library programs provide students with the skills they need to select, interpret, form and communicate ideas in compelling ways with emerging technologies, preparing students for the demands of a global, competitive economy and a 21st century workplace.

“Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that students in schools with strong school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests even when differences in socioeconomic factors are taken into consideration,” Everhart said.

“School libraries are there for every child. They are the great equalizers of society and by making this cut, it’s taking away the opportunity for all children to excel in every area of education, especially science and math. The school library has traditionally been the place where low-income students gain access to the resources and learning experiences that make STEM subjects relevant and rich.”

The ALA calls on Congress to include a dedicated funding stream for school libraries in the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

So, maybe my 2020 prediction for highly information literate library customers was premature. Who knows!

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Is There Any Limit to the Future?

How will these changes affect you – the librarian?

Remember “The Borg”, part of the Star Trek saga where human and machine combined? Think it was too fantastical to be believable?

Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the MIT Media Lab, and in this TED2011 presentation he “shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he’s managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness.”

If that doesn’t totally blow your mind with possibilities, Mike Matas, also at TED2011, presents A next-generation digital book, “the first full-length interactive book for the iPad -with clever, swipeable video and graphics…” [Emphasis added.]

So, you think there are limits to science or technology? You think the exponential weight of all these changes won’t impact your role as librarian?

Better think again!


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No Interest for 21st Century Library Topics in State Library Association Agendas?

Over the past several days I have conducted a search of all 50 state library association websites in pursuit of conference programs and state-wide initiatives that hopefully reflected 21st Century Library topics. Unfortunately, I found very few.

Among those conferences held recently, I found a couple of conferences included sessions on school libraries and information literacy in the 21st century, graphic novels and teen literacy, 21st century library trusteeship, and library instructor’s helping 21st century K-12 students develop information intelligence.

Among those conferences planned for the fall, one conference theme dealt with the future of libraries, one association president’s program will address emerging trends that are changing library services. One state will have Consultants Joan Frye Williams and George Needham present the conference keynote address, and we know they have strong views on the future of libraries.

While the vast majority appeared to be focused on “survival” issues (advocacy, legislation, budgets, etc.), only a handful make reference to “the future” of libraries, which could be virtually any topic, and some don’t even mention a theme for the fall conference. The most unfortunate ones were those few that used a “future” or “vision” theme, but no sessions on the program really delivered anything more than the traditional library conference topics. Only one had an impressively comprehensive description of their conference that was going to address the 21st Century future of libraries. That would be a state library conference worth attending!

Within the state library association websites, there is again very little reference to and virtually no resources on 21st Century Library related issues. In a sample of newsletters I accessed, and some can only be accessed by members who log in, there was little or no mention of 21st Century skills or information literacy, or any similar topics.

It appears that not only ALA has failed to catch a vision for the 21st Century Library. Maybe next decade there will be some interest for 21st Century Library topics in state library association agendas.


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