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Location: New Castle, Indiana

Friday, November 04, 2005

Technology, Librarians, and Indiana -- How are we doing?

This was actually an email that I sent out to colleages at my library. But, I think it does a pretty good job of summing up my thoughts from the recent Internet Librarian 2005 Conference I attended.

I think all of you know that I attended a conference last week in Monterey, CA. I came back with some great ideas and thoughts on technology and libraries and how they can complement each other. I was just catching up on my reading of library blogs that I subscribe to and I ran across a posting that made me think about how we’re doing here at NCHCPL. You can find the posting here. It’s by Michael Stephens, a fellow Indiana librarian who also planned and presented at the Public Libraries Track at the conference I just attended (Internet Librarian 2005.)

I suppose I went to the conference with a preconceived stereotype in my mind of the people who would attend this conference. I have to admit that I expected it to be mostly my age and younger. I was wrong and I find that very interesting. There were many “seasoned librarians” as they call themselves who were fluent in technology and eager to learn more. For the most part, those that I came in contact with were very at ease with technology, but there were some who said “I’m older and I can’t learn all this technology and I don’t want to.” And the response from the person on the panel was basically “you’re going to have to because technology is not going away.” That may have seemed harsh, but true.

Now, in general, I think that New Castle and Henry County are behind in the tech wave that’s been coming at us for the past few years. But, I do think that NCHCPL is doing a good job of staying on top. For instance, Google has just announced that they want to provide all of San Francisco with wireless internet access. And that’s a big deal. But guess what? Anyone can come into our building and get free wifi and they have been able to for the past 9 months. As far as I know, we’re the only ones (at least here in town) offering that kind of service. How cool are we? We’ve got 2 blogs going which both have RSS feeds. We have great email bookclubs and newsletters. We have a mobile wireless computer lab with 14 laptops. WOW!

One of the things that I came away from the conference with is that social software is really big. The ideology of the internet is shifting from thinking that the internet is taking people away from social contact to being a tool to connect people and allowing them to share their lives with each other. Do you know about Flickr or blogs or wikipedia or tagging? These are just a few of the things that are becoming really big that I think as librarians we should know about.

I think that this library and we as librarians are uniquely positioned to be leaders in this community. We can be the ones to help our users connect with the information they need in their lives – whether it be in a book or on the computer.

I’m sorry this is so long, but my brain has had a week and a half to ruminate on all the great talks I heard at the conference. I love being a librarian!

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