Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day two of IL2007

The keynote address of Day Two was from Joe Janes, who shook up the crowd when talking about himself as a librarian. He said something like "I was born to do ready reference. I love it, I'm good at it, and I think it's kind of over.." As the audience reacted he exclaimed, "Ah, there's the nervous laughter I was looking for!" Rather than needing help finding scarce bits of information, people can now bring up rafts of facts on their own - not all of it reliable, but good enough for most purposes. Librarians must first of all accept the magnitude of the change around them and then find a way to apply their skills in the new landscape. When all information is digital, librarians can still be handy as searchers for people doing "deep dives" into the information pool rather than skimming over the surface. Also, the variety of creations in Web 2.0 - the blogs, the avatars, the wikis - may be managed as a collection - or really a collection of collections. Even so, the need for a public space that the library meets will still exist. The library must be "somwhere and everywhere" if it is to matter in the future. I gotta say, he's right, at least when it comes to diagnosing the problem. Even at the forward-thinking PLCMC, the reference librarians' role is shrinking. Ever more of our time is spent on routine queries while our skills get rusty.

During the day I went to some sessions on Second Life. One librarian has set herself up as a librarian in a fantasy nineteenth-century village, where she goes by the name of "JJ Drinkwater." It made her laugh when I said that if one longs for the days of old-fashioned librarianship, the place to practice it is Second Life.

I attended some sessions on knowledge management. I learned a new phrase: "knowledge stewards". These are the persons responsible for maintaining the organization of information within a community of practice. I had to get a neighbor at the session to clarify the term community of practice. It's the group of people who use a certain body of knowledge. One person can belong to many CoP. In some of them, the individual will know steps A and B, but others will know A through C or A through E. In others, his or her knowledge will overlap others' areas of expertise rather than be wholly subsumed by others' knowledge. That is, I might know A and B AND J through L, and though someone knows A through E and someone else knows H through M, I may be the only person with all those letters in my knowledge set. The latter groups will be the most important for that individual to participate in, whereas the first kind wouldn't rely on him or her so much.

I found myself leaving more sessions early today than yesterday, hoping to find one where the presenter wasn't misusing PowerPoint.

I liked the evening session, with the slide show of gadgets and the presentation of video highlights of the "Shanachie tour". The portions of their film that covered PLCMC were all interview. Matt Gullett showed and talked about some of the music and video creation stations we have for teens, which was fine as far as it went, but the film never showed the tools being used, nor any of the works produced with them. The whole thing will need some editing to increase the ratio of action to talk. They really believe that libraries need to get in to gaming to build the user base of the future. The library is all about information, they were preaching, whatever the vehicle for information. I believe it, though I have to get over a Puritan disdain for gaming.

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Blogger Lori Reed said...

Sounds like you are having a great time! I want to hear all about it when you get back. Let's plan to have lunch!

p.s. it took me forever to figure out your real identity!

10:11 AM  

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