Computers in Libraries 2008 – Trends and Highlights

It’s been just over a week since I returned from Computers in Libraries. The InfoToday crew usually puts together a nice set of speakers and ideas and this year was more of the same. I’m not even going to try and summarize everything – check LibrarianInBlack for some of the best summaries or the Technorati CIL2008 tag to follow along from home. As I mentioned in a previous post, I arrived as the conference was winding down, but I was still able to pick up some tips, teach a couple of workshops, and spot some library trends. I’m going to focus on the trends part as the week has given me some time to collect my thoughts. So, here they are, the library trends I’m seeing (based on CIL’s programming and my interests).

Twitter and Libraries – Microblogging and its associated platforms are starting to be noticed and utilized in some library settings. Right now, the emphasis is on connecting to friends, but as more info gets shared in 140 character bits – the Twitter channel is becoming a resource. It’s all about following keywords and topics and choosing your Twitter network of followers (aka “friends”) Pownce and Tumblr are two similar services to watch.

Web Services for Everybody – When Yahoo Pipes came on the scene about a year ago, I wondered when it might start showing up as a tool for library mashups. It’s actually a pretty simple way to use web services in a graphical user interface. Pipes seems limited to pretty simple formats (RSS and ATOM) generally, but it introduces the power and concepts behind web services intuitively. In the long term, it’s still best to learn web services, XML, and some scripting for truly robust mashups, but Pipes lowers the bar for entry in a really nice way.

The Portable Library – At MSU libraries, we’ve been looking at ways to bring library resources into a user’s networked environment. See our widgets and tools for some examples. It was great to meet other developers and libraries pursuing similar efforts. I got to have an extended discussion with Binky Lush, lead web developer at Penn State University Libraries, about her efforts to place library web services into users’ working environments. It’s refreshing to see some of these attempts to move away from the gatekeeping model of web sites as single points of service. Leveraging the network and learning to broadcast bits and pieces of the library into multiple web spaces – iGoogle, iTunes, Course Management Systems – will be an important move for libraries going forward.

Open Source and Learning Outside the Profession – Open source solutions for libraries are becoming easier to implement, but it was nice to see the balanced conversation and practical examples of Open source possibilities for libraries that were part of the “Open Source” track moderated by Nicole Engard. I wasn’t able to see the “Beyond Libraries: Industries Using Hot Tech”, but the idea of looking outside our comfort zone and learning from other industries really resonates with me as an essential trend to follow. Steven Cohen (the track organizer) is onto something here. Innovation frequently happens elsewhere; let’s hear more about it.


Ajax and Web Services Workshops

I came a bit late to the Computers in Libraries 2008 party by arriving on Tuesday night, but I was stilI able to catch up with a few people and make some new friends. It was interesting presenting to a group as they were eating lunch (never done that one before), but the presentations went well. I also had a great time teaching the workshops yesterday. For those that are interested, all the files and code samples from my talks are available below.

Workshop: “Web Services for Libraries.”
Computers in Libraries, Crystal City, VA, 10 April 2008.

Workshop: “Ajax (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) for Libraries.”
Computers in Libraries, Crystal City, VA, 10 April 2008.

Cybertour: “Next-Generation Digital Libraries.”
Computers in Libraries, Crystal City, VA, 09 April 2008.

Cybertour: “What To Do When Interface Design Goes Bad.”
Computers in Libraries, Crystal City, VA, 09 April 2008.