Aged to Perfection, Part II: Libraries and the Senior Marketplace

Nancy DavisRemember the essentials of Marketing:
Delivering what the people want to the people who want it in the way they want it

Why are there children’s specialists, market segmentation (infants are treated differently from toddlers) and special programming effort for children, but not for seniors? When hiring, we should look for people with prior experience and aptitude in this area.

A responsive and supportive senior community can have a tremendous impact on the library.

Growing senior population challenges

  • Reallocation of staff and funding to include seniors, and must be able to support the tools they need (and adapt as their needs change)
  • Reassessment of facilities and collection (need to be ADA-compliant, seniors may have trouble with oversized books or high/low shelves, provide adaptive technologies, etc)
  • Libraries need to provide more personal assistance, including serving those who can’t come to the library (van/mobile services, programs outside the library)

Opportunities for the Library

  • Enrich the lives of long-time community members (and an important voting block). It’s also good to recognize long-time patrons (cardholder for 50 years, etc.
  • Seniors are great community resources themselves, and are valuable volunteers
  • Grants are available specifically for these types of services
  • There is a potential to launch a “planned giving” program, in anticipation of the shift of wealth to older generations. We need to make these people aware of the library as a recipient of donations, trusts, and grants (it is especially important for Trustees to get involved)
  • Seniors control 70% of disposable income in the US (and usually the decision-maker is female)

Seniors use the library for many reasons

  • Pleasure reading, travel information, health information (it is dangerous to self-diagnose), hobby information, starting new careers, lifelong learning, share their love of reading with grandchildren, doing genealogy research (which is also a great way to introduce seniors to databases and online computing
  • Information available at the library is free. Seniors are thrifty and often vote against tax increases, but usually are willing to support a library that they use

What the library can offer seniors

  • Free recreational reading (from other libraries via ILL, too)
  • Professional, friendly and knowledgeable service catered to their needs and their pace
  • A place to socialize with other members of the community (not just other seniors)
  • Volunteer opportunities to give back and feel needed
  • Timely information about larger social issues, community events, government services
  • One-on-one attention with a high level of service (seniors can remember a time when service was important, and they notice when they get it)
  • Access to the internet and internet training

The “Silver Market Test” – Does the library have…

  • …leadership committed to serving seniors?
  • …strategic initiatives geared towards seniors?
  • …programming and collection materials that meet the needs and requirements of seniors?
  • …a budget line-item to support senior programs?
  • …established customer service guidelines (and staff trained to these guidelines)?
  • …a facility (the building, your website, in-library technology, signage, everything) that meets all accessibility needs? See and
  • …a senior advisory board?

How to reach seniors?

  • Seniors read, so reach them through the library newsletter, other forms of direct mail, church bulletins, the newspaper
  • Freebies and promotions, grouped and branded for seniors
  • Community events and flyers/posters around town
  • Word of mouth is very important, and negative impressions circulate just as fast as positive impressions
  • Eliminate all library jargon
  • Don’t surprise them – if you promise something, do it.

Ideas that Work

  • Program around Older Adults Month (May)
  • 1/2 off fines and fees on senior days
  • Collection of materials for caregivers
  • Lunch with a Book for seniors
  • Program Ideas
    • How to downsize/relocate
    • Planning a family reunion
    • Getting started in genealogy
    • Intro to tech gadgets
    • Take pictures of your grandkids with a digital camera
    • Creating writing classes, scrapbooking
    • Container gardening
    • Display of family photos/mementos
    • Oral history programs with schools

OS Follies – Windows Vista, Linux GNU/Ubuntu and Mac OS X

This presentation covers three popular operating systems: Windows Vista, Linux GNU/Ubuntu and Mac OS X.

Barbara AndrewsVista: Barbara Andrews

  • Comes with a lot more drivers so fewer things need to be installed
  • Service Pack is coming out in the first park of 2008 (support for XP will go through 2014)
  • Vista is more Mac-like, graphics-wise. Much more visual cues and helpers, such as a variety of desktop “gadets” (like Mac widgets)
  • Start menu is pretty much the same, exept “start button” have been replace with Windows icon
  • Built-in computer search, which is also useful for locating programs
  • No more fly-out menus – everything is dropdown
  • Windows explorer has search box. They’re trying to eliminate menu bars so tools and features are not hidden.
  • New: Snipping Tool – allows easy screen capturing to convert any section of screen to jpg and email. It also allows annotating these images
  • New: User Account Control – alerts user when some non-user-initiated process begins. Pops up whenever something unusual is happening, to warn you of viruses. But it can be annoying
  • New: Photo Organizer – similar to Mac’s iPhoto, it easily puts photos in folders and allows basic function, such as redeye reduction, size reduction, cropping, etc., and also has various print options (multiple images per page)
  • Task bar shows thumbnail of minimized program
  • Alt-tab has new Windows-tab 3D program scroll feature
  • New: Built-in Parental Controls – inside user accounts, you can create a “child” account, and then set things like website filtering, time limits, block programs/games based on ratings or other criteria
  • New: Allows USB Flash Drives to be used as additional RAM (“speed up my system” auto-detection). This portion of the flash drive then becomes dedicated computer memory, and can’t be used for data storage
  • Windows Defender firewall comes standard
  • Question: How much RAM?: Presenter using 1GB, so 2GB (which has been recommended) is not necessary

GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) Wes Hamilton

  • Reliable: Linux is known to be reliable, and is increasely becoming a realistic alternative to Windows
  • Powerful: Linux gets more out of a computer, so older computers get new life
  • Freedom to Choose: Open Source means lots of different developers working on lots of different projects, so there is a lot of available options (good projects rise to the top, and bad projects fall away)
  • Ubuntu: Secure, Simple: Made for people to use, and doesn’t have virus like Windows. For root-level changes, it prompts you for admin password (like Vista, but doesn’t prompt you every single time)
  • Computer settings are divided between “preferences” and “administration” – administrator settings requires password
  • Afforable: It is free
  • Does not force applications at you like Windows (who sell desktop space for new installs)
  • Allows for switching between different “workspaces” instead of minimizing programs.
  • Comes pre-packaged with software: games, Firefox, Open Office software, photo editing, an dmore – doesn’t require additional installations
  • Default view is a desktop, but also has a built in terminal program
  • File storage is slightly different than Windows – everything can be found from desktop menus
  • Niche for libraries: give new life to old WinX computers – for free
  • Can Windows be undone to add Linux to an existing system? Yes, but it’s involved, because Windows wants to take up all available space. Windows partition can be shrunk to make room for Ubuntu, and then ask on bootup which OS to boot into
  • Question: Is there anti-virus for Linux? Luckily, not many viruses written for Linux. There are some worms, but patches come out quickly. The anti-virus is called Clam (ClanWin for Windows). Doesn’t run in background like Windows programs, but is more of an on-demand scanner
  • Question: What about wireless? It actually depends on the hardware of your wireless card. Broadcom is kind of hostile to open source, so their equipment doesn’t work very well
  • What about Overdrive and DRM? Depends on vendor and how they feel about open source – web-based programs work better. Also an idea is to run a Windows-emulator within Ubuntu (VMWare) and run the Windows programs that way

Scott KehoeMac OS X Scott Kehoe

  • Pronounced “O.S. ten”
  • Links available on Scott’s
  • Once you go Mac you can’t go back” – it’s true, because Macs make computing fun again
  • How different is Mac from Windows? Right-click still works, file formats and peripherals (mice, USB drives, CDs, DVDs) all work the same, almost as much freeware and most windows programs have Mac-versions, and now Macs use a lot of the same hardware
  • OSX and libraries: work just fine with printers and other peripherals, no virus, spyware or bloatware, built-in firewall with “invisible” wifi (easy to set up in Mac), comes with secure mode (like Deep Freeze), has built-in PDF support (don’t need Adobe Reader and keep up with updates), Firefox works the same, many kids get familiar with Macs in school, and using Macs make the library look tech-savvy
  • Current version is OS X 10.4 Tiger. Next is 10.5 Leopard due in 10/2007 (kind of the equivalent of Windows XP’s Service Pack 2). Has a new built-in feature called “Time Machine” that is a backup system – backups all versions of all files
  • Apple Stores are a great resource – free wifi, classes, hands-on experience, and tech support at the “genius bar.” store finder
  • Macs are keyboard-oriented, so lots of shortcut keys. F9 displays all open windows in miniature. System search (“Spotlight”) works really well to find documents, programs and even email messages
  • Office 2008 is due in late January 2008 (Mac’s version of Office 2007)

LibraryThing and Social Cataloging

LibraryThing is a free website that helps people catalog their personal libraries and connect with thousands of other readers with similar interests. Started on 2005, it now has more than 173,000 users who have cataloged more than 11 million books. It’s also a social space, making book recommendations based on your cataloged collection. Abby Blachly, the LibraryThing librarian, gives an overview of the site and discusses aspects of social cataloging including tagging. Kate Sheehan ( of Danbury (CT) Library describes the implementation of LibraryThing into their catalog.

note to self for next year: when going to a LibraryThing presentation, come early!

Abby on LibraryThing
Quick Demo of LT (within an individual library)

  • Add Books: enter isbn and/or title, etc, which searches amazon (or your chosen library), and click on book to add to your library
  • Library display is sortable and changeable
  • Add tags, dates of acquisition, reading, etc
  • Within your catalog, all data is editable

Global View of LT

  • Shows tags for all LT members, recommendations based on all libraries that contain this book
  • Different editions and versions of each book are combined into single “works.” Users do this, based on guidelines provided by LT. This allows users to see reviews and other information for all versions at once.
  • Users also combine author names (LT has no Authority File) to compile all variations of a name into a single author page
  • Users upload cover images, photos of authors (requires permission from author), translate site text into other languages, contribute to discussions about books and authors
  • Social Cataloging (Common Knowledge): includes extra fields for works and authors, like author gender, dates of birth/death, awards, primary characters, important locations – all supplied by users. All edits are tracked by user, and allows reverting to previous versions
  • Edits can be made by members and non-members (a user doesn’t need to be logged into the website to make changes)


  • 25 million tags in the system
  • Tags mean the most to the person tagging, based on their memory of the book
  • With such a large number of tags, even sporadic and personal tags become meaningful to everyone, as errors and offensive washout statistically
  • Tagging is like fluffing pillows – you’ll do it at home or friends houses, to help them, but you wouldn’t volunteer to fluff pillows at a hotel (akin to tagging at
  • Tags like “chicklit” and “unread” are great for readers advisory. Tags also have “related tags” to link to similar books (although subject headings are included on “works” pages, they are usually less helpful than user-supplied tags)
  • Tagging does have problems: “sf” could mean “science fiction” or “san franscico;” “Katrina” could be books about Hurricane Katrina or books lost in the storm

Readers Advisory

  • Provides recommendations based on a large variy of data (including amazon’s suggestions)
  • There is also an “Unsuggester” which lists books totally unlike a given book – all based on LT data statistics

Kate on adding LT to an OPAC
Using LibraryThing for Libraries. Their site offers a sign up to be a tester, an faq, and updates (via Thingology. The entire process has been very open and transparent, versus secretiveness.

  • Puts LT data right into the library’s OPAC, such as similar books, tags, etc (the same links and data as provided on the LT site, but within the OPAC)
  • The data resides on LT servers
  • The data relates to and includes only books in the OPAC
  • LTfL allows patrons to be involved in the process
  • The entire process was quick and easy – did not have to go through vendor (Innovative Interfaces)
  • Problems: had to do some code workaround a bit to make data show up in the right place in the catalog. Other problems were fixed by LT staff in under an hour
  • Staff loves it – wonderful for readers advisory. Patrons love it, once they are shown that it’s there
  • The library could not have done this on their own or with a typical ILS vendor
  • This does not require patrons to change how they use the library or learn how to use new tools – the data is provided right in the catalog, which people already understand

Presentation is available on

Does LT include information on music CDs and/or DVD/VHS?
Non-book formats can be added, but they are not officially supported by LT

A lot of childrens books?

Audio Books?
Yes – there are entire libraries of just audio books. THis also shows up in “other editions”

Readaway is a very similar program – can I upload to LT?
Yes – there is a universal import feature that relies on ISBNs. As long as ISBNs are in the file, it’ll work.

How to people pay for LT?
non-profile $15/year to use it as your OPAC (free for under 200 books)
LTfL pricing depends on circulation – email for more information

Is Casey prepared for a flood of interest in LTfL?
Yes. There are 15 live and 100s in process.

What about consortiums?
Yes, it’ll work (there aren’t any consortiums using it yet, but some are close)

Are searched libraries being expanded?
Yes. Currently 82, soon to add 300 more. Trying to add more public, but they need to have open Z39.50 systems.

Is there a desktop application?

How does LT know what books Danbury Library has?
Danbury has to upload new list, which DPL does once a month. Other libraries do it more frequently.

What are the demographics of LT users?
LT does not keep people data on the system, so this sort of thing really isn’t tracked. All that is needed is a username. A lot of traffic comes from blogs and word of mouth.

What is SRU?
It’s a transfer protocol to move data from one library catalog to another.

How are new titles uploaded for LTfL?
Go to website, and there is an easy upload form (however, be careful when choosing “append” or “overwrite”). Using this same form, you can also change in-OPAC settings on the fly (how many tags to show, etc.)

Does LTfL work with all ILSs?

OS Follies

Review of Vista, Linux, and MAC OS.

Barbara Andrews, Andrews Consulting – Vista

  • Very easy to connect to peripheral devices. Connected to projector with no problem.
  • With printers, “I’m able to connect to any printer pretty much seamlessly.
  • Coming out with service pack in next year. Continuing sales for XP through 2009.
  • Look of desktop – more modern. More MAC-like.
  • Right side of desktop, Windows sidebar. Gadgets on the right side of desktop. Barbara has a clock and an RSS Reader for news updates. Can add more gadgets.
  • While showing different clocks can add as gadget, Barbara said, “How useful all this is, I don’t know, but it’s fun!”
  • Start menu no longer says start, just a little button.
  • Start menu set up differently.
  • Search box in lower left Start menu. As typing, Windows does an active search. FAST!!!!
  • Lower right of start button is the sleep button. Puts the computer in low power, but will come right back to where you left off when you wake it up.
  • The windows all have an address bar at the top and a search button to the right, so you can search files in a particular folder.
  • Control panel is organized by categories, but allows you to go back to classic view for people who like the old way.
  • Somewhat hidden in Vista and Office 2007, there’s no Help menu. Look for the question mark.
  • Snipping tool allows you to capture parts of the screen. Can select an area of the screen, and it converts the image into a JPG file.
  • Save button still has image of a floppy disk.
  • User account control – prevents something from being done to the computer from off site. Security feature. Bad thing is it can be turned off.
  • Photo gallery – Like iPhoto (MAC program.) Looks a lot like Picasa.
  • Minimized windows – if you put your pointer on the task bar, you get a thumbnail of what’s in the window.
  • Added 3D capability. Hold Windows key and press tab, able to scroll through different windows with a cool 3-D effect.
  • Built-in parental controls. Can set up an account for a child and set up types of Web sites they can visit, time limits for the computer, control access to games, block access to specific programs.
  • Can use a USB drive as additional RAM. Once you use a portion of the flash drive as memory, it can’t be used for storage again.
  • Windows firewall been improved, Windows Defender is built in.

Wes Hamilton, Western Massachusetts Regional Library System, Linux

  • Up until recently, GNU Linux hasn’t really been considered as a viable alternative to Windows, but people are working to change that.
  • Linux is known to be very reliable.
  • Known for maximizing the resources built in your computer. Can get more bang for your buck.
  • Known for its freedom to choose, to copy software freely. Also a problem, because there are so many people contributing to linux, that there are so many distributions of Linux.
  • Showing Ubuntu today. Fedora, Open Suse are also popular distributions.
  • Ubuntu – latest and greatest version doesn’t come out until Thursday. Couldn’t get it to project. Showing last version – 6 months old.
  • Ubuntu is known as Linux for human beings.
  • Ubuntu makes it easier to take advantage of the built-in security.
  • Ubuntu is simple. Installs what you need automatically.
  • Affordable – It’s affordable. Also affordable in terms of support costs.
  • You’re free to put what you want on the desktop. They don’t choose for you.
  • Disk usage analyzer – provides a nice map where all the disk space is going. Graphical representation of how much space each directory is taking up. If running out of disk space, can run this program to figure out how to free it up.
  • If you run into trouble, there’s a large support community to tap into.
  • Thought years ago was that it’s not the operating system that matters, it’s the applications. Strong point for Windows. But Ubuntu automatically comes with these applications: Open Office, Firefox, Evolution (replacement for Outlook, isn’t quite there yet.). Automatic updates for these applications as well. Gimp is similar to Adobe PhotoShop.
  • If there is a program you need that isn’t installed, can go into Administration and Synaptic Package Manager. Tracks different packages can install, but doesn’t automatically install them. Can go there to install other programs.
  • In terms for libraries, if you have an older computer, starting to slow down. One option is to get an Ubuntu CD to build a simple Public Access workstation.
  • Adding linux to an existing system can be problematic. Need to partition drive to make space for Ubuntu.
  • “Ubuntu just works except when it doesn’t.”
  • Question about Koha software. Wes has looked at the code; it seems to be very impressive.
  • Question: How old computer? What’s realistic? Wouldn’t do much older than three years old. If older, other distributions are geared for lower resources.
  • Question about viruses. Aren’t a lot of viruses on the Linux platform. Worms have happened from time to time in the past. But it doesn’t happen enough to make it an issue. Free anti-virus program called Clam.
  • Question about Ubuntu and wireless. Depends on the wireless cards. AMD, HP known to be friendly with linux. Broadcom can be problematic and they make a lot of wireless cards. There are always workarounds, it’s a matter of how much time you can spend on it.

Apple OS 10, Scott Kehoe, Northeast Massachusetts Regional Library System

  • Links to this presentation available at
  • As he tries to get system to project, Scott says, “All of these systems work great with projectors until we came into this room.”
  • Not a Mac guy who’s been using Macs forever and can’t stop talking about them. Well, he wasn’t one of those guys until a year ago. “Once you go MAC, you can’t go back…It makes everything fun again.”
  • Dell died last October – blue screen of death constantly. Tried using MAC. “Now you can’t pry it out of my hands.”
  • Apple notorious for the one-button mouse. But in OS 10, you can now use a two-button mouse.
  • Works really well with peripheral devices. Doesn’t prompt you for disks to find drivers.
  • Compatibility isn’t an issue. Scott uses Mac version of Microsoft Office, no trouble burning CDs that work on any OS, thumb drives work.
  • Software – knocked because does not have as much freeware. In past year, Scott has noticed a change in the amount of software available for Macs.
  • In the guts, Macs are using the same hardware as PCs.
  • No viruses to worry about. No Spyware, no bloatware (all those icons that come with your new Windows computer for programs you don’t want.) “I’m the only Mac user I know who uses Symantec anti-virus on my Mac.”
  • Menus are plain English.
  • Help menus are actually helpful.
  • DeepFreeze has a version for Mac. A site license includes license for Mac.
  • Talked to librarian today who just loves the built-in PDF support. The PDF just pops open without a separate download for Adobe. Don’t need to worry about Adobe updates.
  • All three of us share in common – we can all use Firefox. “Firefox in the Mac works just like Firefox in Windows.”
  • OS 10 is called Tiger. Came out in 2001.
  • New version of OS 10 (Leopard) will come out next Friday according to media speculation. Similar to a Windows Service Pack, but Apple charges you for you.
  • Apple stores have free WiFi, have all their stuff out to play with, free classes.
  • State/local government store online. Government employees get a discount.
  • F9 key – brings all of your open windows forward on your desktop.
  • Spotlight search – constantly indexing stuff in the background of your computer. Immediately start searching as you type.
  • Easy to set up another user account with restrictions for children. (Vista is a little slicker, according to Scott)
  • Question about joining a Windows domain. Very easy – Scott is on a domain at work. Easiest way to get in is via IP address. Once you know the IP address of your server, click on Connect, type IP address, and your part of Windows domain. No problem sharing files.
  • Question about when Office 2007 will be compatible for Mac – will come out with Mac version 2008 in January.


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Cambridge, Biddeford Bring the Joy of Books to Preschoolers in New England

In a wonderful program this morning on Outreach to Preschoolers, sponsored by NERTCL, Daryl Mark, Cambridge (MA) Public Library, spoke very eloquently about the residents of Cambridge and the needs they have the library can fill, and detailed the components, and success, of their Verizon eLiteracy grant. “Children need stories, and they need the joy of books,” said Mark, and this was the driving force behind a Verizon eLiteracy grant that brought books into preschools. Twice a month. Two staff members have extensive backgrounds in early childhood.

The program model was three books in thirty minutes, plus songs & fingerplays. A free paperback book was given to every child. Books read in storytime were left at the preschool for two weeks (had to make this work with the system). Puppets turned out to be real stars of this project. “I am not a puppet person,” said one librarian, who brought the bunny puppet. The kids sang rock a bye baby to the bunny, and developed a relationship with the bunny, which led to a storytime completed focuses on bunnies.

Librarians were also a resource to teachers, bringing materials for curriculum, and librarians attended a parent program to introduce the library to paarents. As this was a grant funded project, librarians journalled and used surveys to document the program. Scheduling was the biggest problem. Calling a day ahead to make sure it was still ok to come, was ok.

“At the library, I’m in control, but at the preschool you are not the most important thing – flexibility is really important!” said Mark. Whether the preschool teacher sat in on the storytime or not, made a difference. Teachers have a link and authority with the kids, and help with behavior and show support. Plus, librarians were modelling how to share books with the teachers. At one storytime where the kids were restless and Amy Newmark’s advice about a way to give the kids a sense of their own space: Colored dots (Avery labels!) Nametags also help. Asking teachers to help gets them involved and engaged.

Sometimes language was a barrier–31% of Cambridge residents do not have English as a first langauge. Building relationships was key. One result of the grant was teachers brought their kids to the library. Noted a wide dispartiy in reading comprehension of the preschools. Short, exciting, participatory, funny, and/or scary worked well, and stories with emotion (about friendship, about parents) worked really well.

“A lof kids are not getting books and stories the way they need them … and they NEED their stories, by golly!” enthused Vicky Smith, Biddeford (ME) Public Library. Their program grew out of an idea was spurred by a local resident who wanted to volunteer to read to children. When the volunteer petered out, recognized it was am important program to continue, and decided to close the children’s room on Thursday mornings to visit local preschools once a month.

New Century Grants from the State of ME of $10,000 started an outreach program called Bookshare in Biddeford ME. No money was used for staff; Smith pruchased extra picture books, bags to put them in, and a paperback book for every child to take home with a “Please come to the library with your child” letter for their parent. The letter stated that parents would not be held responsible for damaged books, and there was a very positive response to this clause. A library card drive component was unsuccessful, BUT they now see a lot of kids who wouldn’t normally come into the library.

Head Start and Regional Development Centers, as well as family day cares, were the targets for the service. The fantasy of a block of five day care visits from 9:30-12:30 one morning a week was just that – a fantasy! Staffing was also a bit of a challenge. Matching staff to the right venue was key. Getting the preschool teachers to participate was an educational experience, but very few o them go off to do something while we are there. Some of those family providers are so isolated, and being able to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of session, just to talk to the providers, is really really important for THEM.” advises if you decide to start a program of this sort, build time in, because the family providers really need it.

To see if the books were being used, Smith left books behind in the bag, placed very neatly, spine up. Asking the kids what books they liked in the interim helped prompt the providers that rereading is important. Nice messy bags were a good sign.

Curriculum support was an important component, and sometimes a challenge (books on dentistry!). The need for more duplicates was a surprise – 20-30 copies of pumpkin books, snow books, etc. It so simportant to be able to give them what they need at the time they need. Plus, you don’t have to replace them too often.

“We do it BETTER,” emphasized Smith, when talking about WHY this program was so important. She pointed out that many providers have “garbage” books, and we have the “good” books. And “we know how to share stories in ways that children are going to respond with joy and delight.”

Book list of hits:
We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly
Ginger by Charlotte Voake
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood
Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
More, More, More said the Baby by Vera Williams
Charlie Parker PLayed BeBop by Chris Raschka
Mole Sisters by Roslyn Schwartz
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Do Like Kyla by Angela Johnson
When Sophie Gets Angry–Really Really Angry by Molly Bang
Snip, Snap, What’s That? by Mara Bergman
Do Pigs Have Stripes?and others by Melanie Walsh
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Hi, Pizza Man! by Virginia Walters
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Favorites from Bookshare
Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Laurel Thompson
Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Hidden Alphabet by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Lemons Are not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin
Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

Hello from Vermont

6:00 a.m. Buon giorno from Vermont. Jerry Carbone here and I will be driving down I-91 from Brattleboro this morning to attend NELA for the day. Hope the traffic near the Mass Pike entrance is not too much of a hassle. Since I hail from Denver, I am a little bleary-eyed after going to bed too late last night to watch the Colorado Rockies win their 20th of 21st game. They are definitely the 2007 Boys of Summer. Maybe that should be Early Fall.

I am the library director at the Brooks Memorial Library. I was the state representative to NELA from 2004-2006. Hope to see old friends. I am bringing my Reference Librarian, Jeanne Walsh, to her first(?) NELA conference. Better get on the road!

Introduction from Beth

Hi there! I’m Beth Gallaway, an independent library trainer & consultant from NH 🙂 Those of you who know me, know how much I hate traffic… I was surprised today at the backup coming onto Rte 84 from the MA Pike – many NY plates! Must have been leaf-peepers, heading home.

I’m running for Jr. Executive Officer of NELA, and presenting a program on Second Life on Tuesday at 2:30 PM. I have about 2 dozen copies of a new book titled The Unofficial Tourists Guide to Second Life to give away to early birds.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to yet, soooo … I’ll just try to cover the gaps as I blog!

Up & Coming Technology with Susan Hassler

Susan Hassler, editor for IEEE Spectrum, gave us a look at the possibilities for technology in the next 10 to 20 years in her talk on Up & Coming Technology. The subject of her talk came from the results of a survey of 700 members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, known as the IEEE Fellows. They were asked to project out 10, 20 and 50 years on where they see potential technological advancements. The engineers balked at projecting out 50 years, but did come up with some predictions for the next 10 to 20 years. According to Hassler, the engineers were very serious about their predictions and stayed away from the sci-fi realm. For example, they did not see robotic nurses caring for the elderly any time in the near future or self-driving cars. She focused her talk on two major areas of potential advancement: extending biology and the smart interconnection of everything. The full article that IEEE Spectrum ran on the survey results can be found here.

Extending Biology

The surveyed engineers predicted biotechnology would impact us before nanotechnology. They were particularly interested in augmenting our own biologies, ie bionic humans. These developments could be used to fix people with injuries or trauma, but they also talked about enhancing people. Artificial retinas were one example. Not only could they cure blindness, but they may also be used to detect infrared or to enhance vision in other ways.

This was the first point where Hassler began discussing RFID, which we revisited later in “Sensor Nation” portion of her presentation. RFID is a great thing for companies like Wal-mart, she said, because they can keep inventory, but if you put it in your pocket, “they can track where you are.”

She mentioned a husband and wife who planted RFID chips in their hands so they would not need to use keys or passwords. You can read more about this couple here.

There are a couple of schools in Japan where kids have RFID tags in their backpacks or on their person. When they arrive at school, an e-mail is sent home saying they arrived safely at school. (Yikes! Personally, I find this very creepy.)

Smart Interconnection of Everything

Three areas of technology converge to get to the Smart Interconnection of Everything.

  • Computation and Bandwidth to Burn
  • Sensor Nation
  • Distributed Networks

Computation and Bandwidth to Burn

Many survey respondents (44%) predicted that in developed countries we will have Gigabit Internet access available in homes in 10 years or less. Another 45% said it will come in 11 to 20 years.

Sensor Nation

Hassler talked about a world where people have teeny tiny cameras and teeny tiny GPS sensors. Prices are falling for both RFID chips and RFID sensors. Hassler said the 1980s were shaped by personal computers, the 1990s were shaped by the Internet. “The next 20 years will be the era of sensor networks.”

Distributed Networks

Technology and other entities have typically followed a top-down, hierarchal structure. This is changing in many areas. For example, in the power industry, electrical power had always been delivered from the power source. We now have the capability for consumers to generate power during low-use periods and feed it back to the power plant for use by another consumer. Hassler saw this in the library profession as well, where users can have more of a role in library service.

What happens when these three areas converge. Hassler’s response is Google Maps, (powered by computers with large bandwidth, using satellite technology (Sensor Nation), on a distributed network.) But Hassler sees much more significant results as these three areas become bigger and seesmore convergence.

A note on Google: Hassler says Google’s search is very fast, very great. But it’s also very crude. They’re bringing audio and video into the search, “but it’s not like bringing a human being in” (hmm….like a super information-seeking librarian?) Hassler says, “When our technology starts to mimic our own abilities, we expect it to do more. ..Technologies are like extensions of ourselves, but we get disappointed when they don’t live up to our expectations.”

Hassler talked about a OptIPuter project out of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technlogy where scientists are using an enormous optical network and software that allows users to to look at multiple streams of video content in real-time to watch real-time video with absolutely no degradation (think of the jerky video you see when you’re streaming on YouTube.) I won’t go into too much detail here other than to mention that although this all seems like very high level stuff with no relevance to the ordinary user, Hassler noted that the Internet started out this way. Hollywood has been very interested in this technology as a way to delivery movies over the Internet, and this is something that can plausibly be available in households in the future.

Hassler did discuss some issues for libraries to consider amidst all this technology:

  • What does it mean to be literate? It no longer means just being able to read and write. How can libraries help people become literate?
  • Libraries need to think about archiving digital content. Will an academic library archive every podcast created by the class of 2007?
  • Physical libraries will still have a role in building social networks.

The discussion following this presentation was very interesting. The question of cost – who will pay for all of this? Hassler says it will most likely be private industry that will see a value in making this happen. Will the data collected by private industry with this technology make it worthwhile?

A comment was made that it may increase the divide between the haves and the have nots. Hassler’s response – maybe, maybe not. She didn’t see the cost lying in the devices, but in the bandwidth. With the growth of publicly available wireless networks, it may not be as much of an issue here. The $100 laptop project has sent computers to people in developing nations, but the problem there is they don’t have a telecommunications infrastructure that supports high bandwidth.

Hassler had talked briefly about the differences between digital natives (the generation that has grown up with computers) and digital immigrants (the rest of us) which led to a question about a younger generation of technology users who are looking for instant gratification and may not be fully considering the consequences of these decisions. In response, Hassler asks, “Are they less well educated? Are they less equipped to make plans? Or do they just make them in another way?”

An academic librarian said his concern is making technology relevant for students, and he doesn’t see that the current equipment in his library is supporting this. With the proper technology, he said, these students could be in digital group study instead of going to the library for group study. “I thought that as I walked through the exhibit hall,” Hassler said, noting that she was surprised there wasn’t more technology in the exhibits. “I thought where is all that stuff?”

I will attach Hassler’s PowerPoint to this post as soon as I get it.

Telling it like it was: blog response for “Telling It Like it Is – Communicating Effectively in Difficult Conversations Conference”

We all know the field of librarianship is evolving. New technology, perspectives, information needs, media formats etc. greet us around every corner. I personally believe that this is what makes our field exciting – it is not stagnant and because we constantly try to keep up with the world around us – it can’t be. All this change often leads to conflict. Organizational consultant Maureen Sullivan points out that conflict, disagreement and collaboration do not have to have a negative connotation. Conflict can lead to better understanding of oneself and colleagues and ultimately promotes change or improvement.

Most people do not seek out conflict; many avoid it. Maybe you even avoided attending this session because just seeing the phrase “difficult conversation” made you squeamish.

How do you handle conflict? There is a range of responses to conflict: avoid, accommodate, compete, compromise or collaborate. Sullivan explains that from her work with libraries she finds many librarians tend to collaborate and compromise in the face of conflict but there are many more in our field that prefer to avoid it all together. Sullivan finds that many administrators and people holding positions of authority do not have the skills necessary to engage in successful dialogue on difficult issues. There is a definite need for people to be trained and encouraged to communicate more effectively. Effective communication is crucial to our daily interactions. The ability to address and handle conflict is also critical in light of the role advocacy plays in our profession. We advocate for many things like funding, awareness, privacy, and access–what will happen to those efforts if we shy away from conflict?

In the session, dialogue was defined as “a conversation in which the parties involved use a set of practices to create shared meaning or collective understanding.” Successful dialogue requires people to suspend judgment, listen actively and make a genuine effort to understand the different perspectives of the parties involved. Sounds easy right? While it may be common sense – openness and active listening is hard – particularly when emotions run high. Sullivan outlines 7 steps to approaching a difficult conversation (handouts will be posted on the NELA website). The basic idea is that you should be clear of your own personal goals entering a conversation, be perceptive of the reaction of the other parties, create a space of mutual respect and confidence, and clearly explain your picture of the situation. In order to make it a dialogue, you then need to step back, actively listen and contemplate the perspective of the other parties involved. After everyone has had a chance to express and discuss their views, the group should work to reach a consensus and document the necessary course of action. In order for this to be a successful exchange people need to reconsider how they represents themselves in a conversation. To be an effective communicator you must understand yourself and your ideas, be an active listener, clearly express your thoughts and feelings and manage emotions.

So much for a succinct blog entry…I just wanted to tell you like it was!