Tag Archives: Innovation

21st Century Library Innovations and Inspirations!!


Today my Library hit an innovation milestone. After months of negotiation, planning, board convincing, budgeting, and financial paperwork, we took delivery of our brand new media box! (think Redbox meets library card!!). It is the first of its kind in the state of New Jersey and the 35th of its kind in the USA!
After years of pulling DVDs out of drawers or binders or little paper sleeves or fighting with security cases (that you would swear were designed specifically to drive you insane) or whatever other ‘brilliant’ process we contrived, we have reached the 21st Century with our circulation processes for DVDs. This technology will secure, checkout & dispense, accept returns, check-in, and re shelve at least 2000 DVDs titles. It will allow staffing resources to be reallocated to other library needs. It will generate reports based on circulation and browsing history detailing the most and least popular titles in the collection. It will, within librarian-defined parameters, generate lists for regular weeding and automatically dispense titles chosen for removal to the librarian in a batch upon demand.
And best of all, the patron’s are ecstatic! They understand “RedBox-style” and they love interactive and ‘patron-managed’ services!
It was a great day.
(Watch for a future post about the Media Box and the arduous journey to its acquisition!)

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In the spirit of 21st Century Library Innovation, this is a snapshot of other library innovations happening all around the Country! Innovation is in the Air!

New York Public Library Opens Pop-Up Outdoor Reading Room and New “Read Everywhere” Campaign

Omaha Public Library Goes Mobile with a Book Bike!

Midland Public Library to promote “Little Free Libraries”!

Portland Public Library in talks with City to Store & Digitize Historic City Records

Aurora Public Library Receives Innovation Award for KMart Branch!

Inspired??

Be INNOVATIVE!!

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Visionary Leader for the 21st Century Library or Control Freak?


I always say I’m not a control freak. Some would say I am. I think what they mistake as control is actually having a clear vision of my organization’s potential and direction.

Much like the artist creation of a movie- a library (or and organization) is a collaboration. Cinematographers, gaffers, scenic design, costumers, art directors, foley artist = librarians of all specialties, facilities managers, pages, trustees, community collaborators, security officers.
But it is the director that creates and holds the creative vision for the whole and communicates that effectively to the entire collaborative team.  The director must always retain a clear vision of the final product to avoid wasted resources, the team getting ‘lost in the weeds’, or a mangled final result.
In that setting no one says the director is a control freak. Rather they may say that he/she is a perfectionist that works tirelessly and brings out the best in everyone to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The ability to skillfully guide the multitude of contributors (like a symphony) to bring their skill set to the table and create a product that resembles on screen the vision the director had in his/her head is essential.  I believe that leaders of great organizations must practice the same approach.
Visionary Leaders must:
  • Have clear vision and a grasp of how the parts will come together.
  • Think many moves ahead.
  • Plan for exceptions. Allow for opportunities.
  • Be open to spectacular unexpected contributions that make the whole better and Reject the opposite with equal vigor and determination.   (This does not make you a micro manager or a control freak. If a screenwriter had suggested trotting a cowboy on a horse thru the final scene in Casablance-no one would have snarked that the director was a control freak for saying no to the idea.)
  • Do not become complacent. Divide the long haul future into a series of attainable goals or projects. Your time with an organization is the career of a filmmaker with each new stage or project the equivalent of a completed film.
And… Like we all want in a good movie…
Be EPIC!!!

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The Librarian’s Role in the “The Battel of the Books(‘ Readers)”


Do you remember Jonathan Swift’s account of “the terrible Fight that happened on Friday last between the Antient and Modern Books” in St. James’s Library? That was last Friday some month in 1697, but it could easily have been an account of the biblio-fisticuffs between Antients and Moderns any day on the Web in the last twenty years or so.

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Jonathan Swift 1704

As in Swift’s day, our Antients and Moderns come in several stripes: Textbook Antients and MOOC Moderns, Printed Antients and Kindled Moderns, Copyright Antients and Open Access Moderns and so on. One stripe to have taken the field recently is the humblest of the lot but nonetheless passionate: the Antient and Modern Readers, that is you, Dear Reader, not the e-reading device. Were you aware of this pugilism by proxy on your behalf across the expanse of the Internet? No? Then, … allow me to provide you with “a full and true account” of the actions of certain of your avatars. ….”


If you are a lover of books and reading, I strongly encourage you to read the entire thought provoking article at “The Battel of the Books(‘ Readers)”

What is our role as 21st Century Librarians in this future of “reading“?

Or, is being a librarian only about ACCESS?

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Get Creative At Your Library


Gregg Fraley at TEDxStoremont
Scaffolding To Solutions


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The Secret to Creativity: Mike Dillon at TEDxEastsidePrep
A former Imagineer for Disney, Mike Dillon founded his own imagination company.


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What creativity is trying to tell you: Jonathan Tilley at TEDxStuttgart
“The creative process is as individual as it is universal.”


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What can you imagine and create to transform your “library” into a “LIBRARY!
we need lib

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Watson Come Here – We Want You


Just as historic as Bell creating communication over wire, Marconi making it wireless, and Perotto creating the desktop computer, IBM has broken through technology to the holy grail of computing by inventing Watson – the cognitive computer. But they tell the story much better than anyone at their website. Visit it before you read on. Even the Watson website is impressive. How great must the computer be. Watson

A January 14 article from SmartData Collective – IBM Bets a Billion to Mobilize Watson Business Unit and Monetize Cognitive Computing – explains that IBM has now made Watson front and center in its empire.

Until now IBM Watson was important but had neither this stature in IBM’s organizational structure nor enough investment to support what the company proclaims is the third phase of computing. As IBM tells it, computing paradigms began with the century-old tabular computing, followed by the age of programmatic computing, in which IBM developed many products and advancements. The third phase is cognitive computing, an area in which the company has invested significantly to advance its technology. IBM has been on this journey for some time, long before the IBM Watson system beat humans on Jeopardy!. … Now IBM Watson is focused on reaching the full potential of cognitive computing.

I’ve been following IBM’s progress on Watson for some time, because it WILL have a profound affect on the role of librarians. Since I first ran across the brief article in early 2011 I knew that the world was on the brink of experiencing “thinking” computers. We have all seen movies about cognitive robots, Orwellian world domination by computers, and now there’s even a TV series with a robot police partner that has a soul – of sorts. So we have been fascinated with thinking computers for over a century. There’s even a movie in theaters now about a guy who falls in love with his smart phone – and it falls in love with him. [eyes rolling] As I’ve stated before, Jules Verne wrote “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” so it should be no surprise that the thinking computer is now reality.

If IBM is right that cognitive computing will be the next wave of innovation in the industry and a new phase of computing, it has placed itself at the center of a substantial new market opportunity. Even at the most basic level to simplify the process of making information more available is what IBM Watson provides and our information optimization research finds is very important to 65 percent of organizations. [Emphasis added.]

IF IBM IS RIGHT…? Seriously! Did that young man just write that? How could ANYONE doubt that cognitive computing IS the next wave of innovation in computing? It is what the world has been waiting for with anticipation and dread. It will spell the beginning of awesome new capabilities for the individual, as well as businesses.

At the launch of the IBM Watson business unit, IBM Research’s Dr. Guruduth Banavar brought forward some of the latest thinking on cognitive science and the ability to teach machines to reason and … how it will impact roles and businesses in the next decade.

As it begins to scale its offering, part of IBM’s challenge is to manage the continuous information feeds that effectively make IBM Watson smarter. While IBM does not talk much about the content aspects of what is required, it is clearly more than just loading files, and these efforts are just as important as librarians are to libraries, whereby they are not just stewards to a collection of books but ensure the value and improvement of the library.

The author is stretching his expertise a bit to assume what the importance of the librarian is to the library, but it provides a great segway into how Watson has the potential to eliminate the reference librarian, and potentially other aspects of the library as well.

WatsonMedData This issue is not without controversy. On the Watson FB site is the diagram of Watson using natural language and evidence-based learning to crunch the world’s medical data. This obviously raises the age old question of security and privacy of individual medical records. The data has to come from somewhere. Is it possible that computers will decide they don’t need inferior human input? Yes, it probably is. Will it happen in the next 100 years? Who knows. The reality is Watson exists and it will change the way the world views information.

Would you rather “Ask a Librarian” with human limitations and biases with limited resources at your local library, or speak to a computer with almost infinite knowledge who will recommend resources and even tell you how confident it is that it will satisfy your question? Would you rather go to the Only Vanilla Ice Cream Store, or to Baskin & Robbins 31 Kinds?

This impending revolution in how people find information reminded me of Peter Brantley’s article from February, 2013 – You Have Two, Maybe Three Years… in which he stated;

The most serious threat facing libraries does not come from publishers, we argued, but from e-book and digital media retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Google. While some IFLA staff protested that libraries are not in the business of competing with such companies, the library representatives stressed that they are. If public libraries can’t be better than Google or Amazon at something, then libraries will lose their relevance. It’s good that the library e-book issue has heated up over the past year, and not just in the U.S. but globally.

But libraries have dithered for far too long – it is now time for action. No matter how glorious the vision of local 3D printing, community gaming, or how critical the literacy training and job assistance libraries offer, reading lies at the heart of the library mission – and as the world goes digital, we cannot let the library become a pile of dusty books. We must make the library the most cool and awesome space it has ever been.

But absent immediate innovation, libraries are going to be increasingly unable to meet the expectations of their patrons, and if such a breakthrough cannot come in the next two or three years, libraries risk losing their central place in the world of literature. That would be a great loss. [Emphasis added.]

Combine the threat to libraries from “e-book and digital media retailers” that Brantley addressed with the threat from Watson toward the reference role of libraries and it is obvious that libraries MUST reinvent themselves NOW! As I wrote last February; “This is by no means the first or even a new call to action, but … time is running out for libraries to find their place in the community they serve. I for one seriously wonder what it will take for library leaders to recognize the future challenges and adopt a vision to overcome them and save the library. Traditional librarianship is a relic of the past century. Creative and innovative thinking with visionary leadership and bold action is the only approach that will save libraries” in the 21st Century.

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[Read: Reference Librarian vs. Computer! February 16, 2011

And The Winner Is….. “The information seeker in 2015.” February 17, 2011

Remember Watson? November 18, 2013

The Future of Librarians? June 28, 2010

Technology Game Changers for Libraries June 26, 2012]

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Complete These Statements …


The 21st Century Library is…
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The 21st Century Librarian does…
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This is not a quiz. It is not rhetorical. We all need to share our ideas and understanding about our future. Isn’t that why you’re reading this Blog? Because you care about the future of your profession. Please contribute to the conversation.

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A New Perspective of Librarianship


What I’ve been trying to elaborate over the past many months and posts is that our profession needs a new perspective of librarianship.

A TV comedy show (of all things) sparked the following spot-on analogy. One of the new TV shows this season is “The Crazy Ones” starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michele Geller who play a father-daughter advertising team.

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In the most recent episode Dad is trying to teach Daughter an object lesson about coming up with an ad campaign for a potential client.

thinker1 Dad says; “It’s kind of like viewing a sculpture. Rodin’s “The Thinker” for example when viewed from the front is contemplating life.
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thinker2 When viewed from the back is a guy on the toilet.”
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This Blog is essentially all about questioning how we view and practice “librarianship” in the 21st Century. Some librarians are still viewing and practicing it from the front which is how it’s been viewed and practiced for centuries.

Shouldn’t we be viewing it from a different perspective, a new perspective so that we get a different understanding and new way of practicing it, a new vision, a new inspiration of what librarianship means, and what it can be in the 21st Century? ABSOLUTELY!

[Read: 21st Century Librarians Look Like: Game-changing Creativity]

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