Monthly Archives: June 2012

Shameless Promo For My Amazon Book

OK, it’s not about 21st Century Librarianship. That one is still in the works. But, what can I say, except that this is a shameless plug for my book that I just published through Amazon’s CreateSpace utility. It wasn’t painless, but it was successful and satisfying, especially for something I’ve worked on for a few decades. I hope you’ll enjoy;

“Timeless Quotes for a Better Life in the 21st Century”
Amazon – Paperback
Amazon – Kindle edition


“The most consummately beautiful thing in the universe is the rightly fashioned life of a good person.” was written by George Herbert Palmer, an 19th Century American scholar and author. Reading Palmer’s profound observation should cause anyone to reflect on what does make a ‘rightly fashioned life’ and whether that gives someone a happier life possibly than others. After many years of experience, trial and error, and contemplation, I have come to a conclusion – Yes, a ‘rightly fashioned life’ does make a person happier, and it certainly can be consummately beautiful.

My hope is that this book will help the reader understand for themselves what constitutes a ‘good person’, and begin to create a ‘rightly fashioned life’ in this 21st Century. Winston Churchill had it right when he said “All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Those concepts pretty well cover the spectrum, but life could be so much simpler than people try to make it today. Note I didn’t say easy, I just said more simple, less complicated, more enjoyable, more satisfying, and more filled with self-respect found through creating a ‘rightly fashioned life.’

I have written this book to stimulate knowledge by the reader that I hope will have a lasting impact on each person’s perspective of fashioning their own ‘rightly fashioned life.’ That, and expressing how important it is for society to regain a grasp of right and wrong. What I have attempted to do is share my perspectives and personal perceptions about life based on these relevant quotations, and how they relate to a ‘rightly fashioned life.’

For example, my all time favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote is: “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.” It is so often applicable because we all have regrets and worries that something didn’t turn out just the way we had planned or hoped, or that we might have missed out on something great, and that while we were otherwise engaged we missed out on something better. That leads to much frustration, discontent and unhappiness, but Emerson was able to put those feelings in the proper perspective – don’t be concerned over what you might have missed, because you’ve gained something else – something that no one else gained. I hope you will find many words of wisdom in these timeless quotes, from which you can create a better life in this 21st Century.

Review: (just one so far)

Beautiful and Meaningful!!
There are so many quote books out there that it is hard to find one that really speaks to you. Timeless Quotes for a Better Life contains quotes that are the best of the best and all fit together to uplift the spirit. As I read, Dr. Matthews’ narration of the quotes and the way they were put together clearly demonstrated how they could be applied in so many life situations to simply live with more beauty and grace.

This book is a rare find in a market littered with encyclopedias of every quote (most useless to our everyday life) and self-help books that seem to simply promote the faddish trend of this moments thinking. Instead this book highlights those qualities and aspects of living that are timeless and true.

A worthy read and one to go back to time and again when life seems bleak.


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Technology Game Changers for Libraries

A recent article by Technology writer Christina Farr for GOOD Technology titled The Top 10 Technology Game Changers for the Next Decade sparked my interest, since technology is changing the game in libraries.
There were at least three of her 10 that I felt directly impacted libraries and the way we will have to do business. They are……….

Visual Learning Robotics
Imagine an Internet that thinks and sees like humans. Diffbot, which recently raised $2 million in seed funding, uses visual learning robots to extract and analyze content on the web the same way that people do. “Diffibot’s mission is to teach software robots to understand webpages, so that we can extract meaningful information and build a database of freely accessible human knowledge,” says founder Mike Tung. Diffbot is already being used by AOL to pull relevant content from the web and organize stories for its iPad magazine.

“… an Internet that thinks and sees like humans.” OK. This is scant information, but going to their website left me unimpressed – today. In a few more years it is entirely possible that this could turn into something – something that again challenges the way librarians do business.

Internet Data Expansion
Forget megabytes and gigabytes. Bandwidth will multiply three million times through the next ten years, surpassing terabytes, petabytes and exabytes to reach zettabytes. Internet data will be high definition video living in a real-time cloud. Always-on connectivity will be standard across 15 billion devices worldwide. “We’re trying to prove you can do interesting things with brain waves,” said Intel researcher Dean Pomerleau in an interview with CNET. “Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.”

“Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.” OK, this is even more fantastical than the visual learning robotics – BUT, don’t forget what Jules Verne wrote, “Anything one man can imagine other men can make real.” It’s only a matter of time.

Voice Recognition
According to David Jacobs of TechKnowledge Consulting Corporation, voice recognition will take over keypads in the next decade. Your Caller ID will be pulled, greet you by name, access your records, book your flights or deliver your dinner. Siri is merely a stop on the road to voice recognition capabilities that can create even higher degrees of efficiency, with application in hospital emergency rooms at the top of the list.

Just like Star Trek’s captain being able to speak to the computer. This one I think is highly feasible because people have wanted this for a long time. If there’s money to be made in it, someone will invent and market it.

As I’ve written numerous times, technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and who knows where it will emerge next. My bet is that it will emerge in the “information” arena, as well as many other arenas that used to be the domain of the librarian. Not any more!

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The Public Library of 2020

According to Pew Research Center’s “Pew Internet & American Life Project” they think they know what public libraries will be by the year 2020. I wouldn’t question their research, but I’m skeptical about some of their conclusions. See what you think.

“On Thursday June 7th, Kristen Purcell will deliver the keynote address for the 2012 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference in New York City” Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future.

There are 59 slides in the presentation, and only the last nine present Pew’s “Imagining” of the public library of 2020. I selected six of the last slides that have relevant information for 21st Century librarians.

Pew believes: These information conclusions relevant to libraries.

I believe: The nature of the library customer is changing and will continue to change toward technology being an integral part of their life. I believe that is a fact.

Pew believes: The library in 2020 will help “information consumers” with three basic functions.

I believe: These three factors will continue to be a constant. However, in another 8 years there will be more customers who do not need librarians to filter their information, nor manage their information stream.

Pew believes: The library of 2020 will be faced with this environment.

I believe: This is a fact of life that will never go away. Librarians need to understand that and begin to work within it.

Pew believes: These are Roles of 2020 Librarians.

I believe: Pew was trying to appease the “old guard library establishment”, because none of their reported facts unquestionably leads to these roles. I don’t know from where they drew these roles, but they got this wrong. Customers in 2020 will not need any of these roles from librarians. They will fill these roles for themselves.

Pew believes: These additional Roles of 2020 Librarians.

I believe: They got these roles correct. These will be the roles of the 21st Century librarian, and library.

Pew believes: This slide from ALA Office of Information Technology Policy as the last slide.

I believe: ALA Finally Catches Up? The information in the slide comes from the Office of Information Technology Policy, Brief No. 4, June 2011, by Dr. Roger Levien. You can read my review at the link above, in which I summarize the publication by writing:

While there is virtually nothing new or profound in Levien’s paper, it is important that ALA has adopted his “Policy Brief” because it FINALLY establishes in ALA Policy what so many have been saying and writing for so long – change is here, the future of the public library is far from certain, and the changes in technology, competition and society will have profound affects on what that future will be.

And, my final comment was, which I think is even more valid today, “Of particular value in this publication is the reiteration of what so many have written – the future of the library will be determined locally – not nationally! Better late than never!”


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L-Schools and I-Schools Embracing D-Schools?

We can only hope! But, if you’re like most librarians, you have no clue what this means. It means that Library schools and Information schools should consider embracing some of the curriculum of Design schools. Interesting.

Designing Better Libraries Blog is all about “exploring the application of design, innovation and new media to create better libraries and user experiences.”

Design, as we conceive it, is a way of examining library services and reengineering them to make them more accessible to patrons. … we are entering a time when our traditional techniques for developing new services may be inadequate for serving a new generation of library users with their own unique search behaviors and service expectations. To address these changes, we advocate a kind of design thinking informed by processes developed by major design firms and design schools that emphasizes a novel approach to devising and implementing new ideas in libraries.

A recent Post titled L-Schools and I-Schools Should Take A Closer Look At D-Schools caught my attention as much for the Huh? factor as for the innovative approach to improving library services and user experiences – something that libraries desperately need to remain relevant.

According to the Wall Street Journal (watch the video) D-Schools [Design Schools] are hot and B-Schools [Business Schools] are not. The WSJ is acknowledging an important trend within B-Schools that has been growing in popularity for a few years. While it’s true that a few forward thinking business schools, most notably the Rotman School of Business (U of Toronto) and the Weatherhead School (Case Western) have integrated design thinking into their curriculum, the vast majority of business schools are still offering the same traditional courses and career paths for their MBA students. Moving to a design thinking influenced curriculum makes good sense because more businesses are making use of design thinking and looking to hire those who can bring more of these skills to their companies. At my own institution, the Fox School of Business includes the Center for Design and Innovation, where the faculty are exploring the intersection of design and business, and exposing the newest MBA students to the design inquiry process, a variant on design thinking.

This whole trend speaks to the assertions I’ve been making that librarians must develop business acumen, and libraries must be run more business like. Despite the fact that many librarians resist the idea that ROI is appropriate for libraries, the fact remains that funding agencies require it. It’s a done deal, so libraries had better get with the program or face outsourcing, or an even worse fate – closure.

The author goes on to elaborate on the situation by stating;

Perhaps now is the right time for L-Schools (Library) and I-Schools (Information) to take a closer look into this trend, and consider how to integrate design thinking into the curriculum that prepares future library professionals. I made this suggestion in a post a few years ago, and there was a mixed reaction – everything from “Who is he to tell us how to design our curriculum” to “Sounds like an interesting idea” to “I’m already doing this”. The lack of enthusiasm for my suggestion was likely owing to a lack of familiarity with design thinking. Courses on library instruction, human-computer interaction or usability studies may include some elements of design, but it would be completely different to integrate design thinking philosophy into the curriculum – so that every graduate has internalized the design inquiry process as a problem-solving methodology.

And, he ends the Post with this plea.

We need LIS graduates with those traditional skills that prepare them for library work. We have a greater need for students who are savvy problem solvers. With the wicked problems confronting the library profession, we need colleagues who can design elegant solutions. Design thinking skills could help our future librarians be the kind of problem solvers and decision makers that can tackle any challenging no matter what area of librarianship is involved. That’s what design thinkers do – they figure out what the real problem is and design a solution. Perhaps some L-Schools and I-Schools will seriously look into the D-School trend, with an intent to use it as a model for future curriculum development. If the goal is to create better libraries, shouldn’t it start with how we prepare future librarians? In the meantime, is it possible that more libraries will just start hiring D-School graduates? I think some already are or will do so soon. [Emphasis added.]

While I’m less generous with my assessment of today’s SLIS curriculum than this author, ANY incorporation of ANY 21st Century topics to better prepare librarians for the future they will face would be an improvement. If business is trending toward design skills, SLIS had better take a close look at providing something cutting edge before Librarians are considered antiquated academics.

Don’t believe me, but consider the Forbes article published June 8, The Best And Worst Master’s Degrees For Jobs that ranked librarianship as “the worst master’s degree for jobs right now.”

Library and information science degree-holders bring in $57,600 mid-career, on average. Common jobs for them are school librarian, library director and reference librarian, and there are expected to be just 8.5% more of them by 2020. The low pay rank and estimated growth rank make library and information science the worst master’s degree for jobs right now.

Even Will Manley thinks the MLS will not recover when the economy does. In his June 5 Post for american libraries, he states “Ah, but when the economy recovers (and there are hopeful signs on the horizon that a recovery has started) won’t the librarian job market recover along with it? … Not necessarily.”

The massive budget cuts of the last five years have forced school, academic, and public libraries to learn to function with fewer and fewer MLS holders, and library users don’t seem to notice the difference. Can they tell that there are fewer new books to choose from? Absolutely. Do they realize that there are longer and longer waits for popular ebooks? Absolutely. Do they notice when main library hours are slashed and branches are closed? Absolutely. Do they know when a professional librarian has been replaced with a paraprofessional or even a clerical person? Rarely, if ever. To the average American, a librarian is a person who works in a library.

Don’t be shocked that school boards, university administrators, city councils, city managers, library boards, and even library directors are taking close notice of this lack of perception. Yes, people still want libraries. That’s not the issue at all. No, I take that back. That is precisely the issue. People want libraries so desperately that they are quite willing to sacrifice the cost of professional staff to get full hours and robust book budgets restored.

While I disagree with Will that people want libraries so badly they’re willing to have them with less qualified and capable staff, my perception is that the MLS has not kept pace with the changing times, and as noted above the current MLS borders on useless. One of Will’s commenters agrees. Furio wrote; “I finished my master’s degree and I didn’t learn anything beyond what I’ve already learned by working from the bottom up. I just came out of the program with a debt that I’m still paying. Many MLS graduates don’t have the experience required to work in libraries. Those who said that the MLS degree helped them to get new skills are those who have never work in a library setting. That’s the reality.”

Hey, SLIS – This is a Wake-UP Call! Your vanilla MLS is useless in the 21st Century!


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Technology Is Moving Ahead – Leaving Libraries Behind

Because, we continue to pursue ‘business as usual’ without lifting our head out of the trenches to see the future. Evidence is everywhere to show us what we are facing, but is anybody looking or listen? Starting with a retrospective, I’ll point out a small glimpse of that future.

Last August I wrote (Perpetual Beta – The Real 21st Century Library Model?) that;

We are drowning due to the competition, as well as due to our own lack of vision and innovation. We didn’t recognize the future and now it is upon us with all its implications, demands, and consequences. Not only is the future NOW, it is in a state of continual change and advancement to the degree that next year will be significantly different from this year, just as this year is significantly different from last year.

Last March I wrote (Our Future is Not Uncertain – It’s Ambiguous) that;

Within the librarian profession we tend to rely on the past for perspective. We try to play it safe when making decisions about what to collect, what to program, how to deliver services, etc. That time has passed and especially in this rapidly changing future, we can not resort to some outdated playbook of “We’ve always done it this way.” and expect to survive.

I based that opinion on the eye-opening article I was reviewing by Robert Safian in the January 2012 issue of FAST COMPANY titled “This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier of Business“. Safian wrote;

The vast bulk of our institutions – educational, corporate, political – are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.

Executives at GE are bracing for a new future. The challenge they face is the same one staring down wide swaths of corporate America, not to mention government, schools, and other institutions that have defined how we’ve lived: These organizations have structures and processes built for an industrial age, where efficiency is paramount but adaptability is terribly difficult.

“The business community focuses on managing uncertainty,” says Dev Patnaik, cofounder and CEO of strategy firm Jump Associates, which has advised GE, Target, and PepsiCo, among others. “That’s actually a bit of a canard.” The true challenge lies elsewhere, he explains: “In an increasingly turbulent and interconnected world, ambiguity is rising to unprecedented levels. That’s something our current systems can’t handle.

“There’s a difference between the kind of problems that companies, institutions, and governments are able to solve and the ones that they need to solve,” Patnaik continues. “Most big organizations are good at solving clear but complicated problems. They’re absolutely horrible at solving ambiguous problems – when you don’t know what you don’t know. Faced with ambiguity, their gears grind to a halt.

“Uncertainty is when you’ve defined the variable but don’t know its value. Like when you roll a die and you don’t know if it will be a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. But ambiguity is when you’re not even sure what the variables are. You don’t know how many dice are even being rolled or how many sides they have or which dice actually count for anything.” Businesses that focus on uncertainty, says Patnaik, “actually delude themselves into thinking that they have a handle on things.”

So what has happened recently to reinforce my opinion that technology is moving ahead leaving libraries behind?

Google recently announced its Ebook Converter from Ice Cold Apps, available for purchase for $2.71.

Convert your files to Ebook formats! ePub, FB2, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PDF, TCR! Ebook Converter allows you to convert almost all files to the … ebook formats! You can even change specific settings and select sometimes for what ebook reader the file is going to be used.

How can we convert almost every file on your phone? Well, the converting is accomplished by uploading your file to the cloud where it will be converted and downloaded back to your phone.

Now virtually everything can be tablet and mobile device compatible!

On May 30, MarketWatch published that OverDrive Introduces Browser-Based eBook Reader.

Leading global eBook distributor OverDrive today announced plans to launch later this year a new eBook reading platform, “OverDrive Read.” Based on open standards HTML5 and EPUB, OverDrive Read creates a fresh, direct and immersive reading experience offering significant benefits for publishers, booksellers, libraries and schools. Unlike eBook apps or devices, OverDrive Read enables readers using standard web browsers to enjoy eBooks online and offline without first installing any software or activating their device. OverDrive will demonstrate this new eReading platform at Book Expo America, in New York City, June 5-7, 2012 (Booth #4340), as well as at the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., June 22-25.

Is it any wonder that I say technology is moving ahead leaving libraries behind? We are clueless where technology makers will emerge next, and we’re still sticking to our traditional guns with bulldog tenacity. Is that the best we can do?

Does anyone seriously think technology developers are going to help libraries keep up or stay tuned in to the main stream of information delivery? Seriously?

Business as usual? Seriously?

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