“The Asteroid That Hit the Industrial Age”; ILA Annual Conference 2009

Lee Rainie, founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, was the phenomenally brilliant opening speaker at the 2009 Iowa Library Association Annual Conference.   With a conference theme like “Deciphering Our Future: Transforming Iowa Libraries,” Rainie’s talk about his research on American internet usage kicked everything off on just the right note.  He gave the same talk in Wisconsin later that week, and those slides are available here (via slideshare):

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MIT’s Open Course Ware Is Amazing But Tricky

It’s an absolutely free gift from MIT to the global community—or at least those who have access to the Internet:  MIT’s visionary Open Course Ware (OCW) website offers free content from over 1900 MIT courses for the edification and education of humankind, including course descriptions, syllabi, calendars, reading lists, assignments, answer keys, study materials, exams, lecture notes, video lectures and “related resources” that the instructor hopes will supplement the course material.  It’s a truly visionary resource that embraces the philosophy of open access.  However, the content itself hasn’t been adapted for use outside the classroom, so it can be difficult for the casual online student to understand how best to interact with the materials.

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Kindle Demonstration & Notes

This Friday I got to demonstrate some features of my Kindle 2.0 to a group of about 20 staff at my library.  We’re getting ready to go the e-book route, which I think is very exciting.  I feel so grateful that my library is willing to embrace and explore new technologies — we circulate video game systems, laptops, flip cameras, and our reference services entail chatting, texting, blogging and technology instruction. . .

Anyway, I’m getting distracted from what I REALLY wanted to tell you about, which is libraries and e-Books.  It looks like my library is going to end up going with Sony e-Readers, because we already use the Overdrive service for audiobooks, and Overdrive just partnered up with Sony to offer content for their e-Readers earlier this summer.  This makes me sad for entirely selfish reasons, because I use a Kindle — but that’s just the way it goes in the format wars.  And it does really bug me that the Kindle is so proprietary and DRM-y — but all the better to hack, my dear!  (And lest we forget — Sony is not exactly exempt from the evils of DRM, either.  Remember that fiasco?)

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Science Fiction and Fantasy: Uncovering the Modern World of Information, Society, and Technology through Metaphor and Imagination; ALA Annual Conference 2009

(presented by LITA)

Milton Wolf from the LITA Imagineering Interest Group introduced the speakers for this event, which ended up being primarily a publicity stop for Tor Books authors.  I was disappointed that we didn’t talk more about technology, metaphor and imagination — as the program guide had suggested — but what’s a girl to do?

Robert Charles Wilson began with a brief but eloquent talk about his new book, Julian Comstock: A Story of 22-nd Century America.  Set in America after apocalyptic problems such as environmental meltdown and a plague of infertility, this is a story about political reform and restoration ~ especially the restoration of a Free Public Library System.  Wilson argued that information and knowledge will always “want to be free.”  Julian Comstock sounds like an absolutely fantastic novel and I wish Wilson were more comfortable as a public speaker, because I have the feeling I could have listened to him talk about what’s on his mind forever (or at least a few hours).

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Life After 2.0; ALA Annual Conference 2009

(presented by PLA)

Lori Bell, Director of Innovation at Alliance Library System in East Peoria, IL, came to this session to demonstrate her library’s amazing Second Life virtual library project, “Info Island Archipelago.”  Second Life libraries are great meeting places for people who want to use avatars to meet from a distance.  Virtual libraries don’t even have to look like buildings — they can look however we want them to look.  They don’t have to be constrained by walls, and the weather can be perfect every day.  And, just like the Info Island Archipelago, your reference librarian can be. . . Yoda.

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Technology in the Developing World; ALA Annual Conference 2009

(presented by LITA)


Randy Ramusack, the United Nations Technology Officer for Microsoft Corporation (Research4Life), came to this ALA session to talk about Microsoft and “Creative Capitalism.”  The undisputed star of the show, however, was Matt Keller, who is the Director of Europe, Middle East & Africa, One Laptop Per Child program.

Although you might recognize OLPC for their cute little XO laptops that began the Netbook craze, Keller stressed that OLPC is an education program instead of a technology program.  Based in the U.S., OLPC is a non-profit organization that sets up and supports laptop-distribution programs in developing countries.  The programs are  then run by independent organizations (such as NGOs) in their home countries.  Continue reading

Recap: ILA Technology Petting Zoo

Yesterday was the Iowa Library Association’s Support Staff Spring Conference: Technology Petting  Zoo.  And I just have to say, I met some of the most awesome, forward-thinking, teched-out librarians in the state of Iowa, seriously.  About 40 librarians from around the state showed up, from their mid-twenties to their mid-sixties, and we had such a blast playing with Kindle, iPod Touch, Facebook, Smart Boards, digital cameras. . . &c!  After downing some yummy pecan sticky buns and cups of coffee (sorely needed after waking up at 6:30 am for the hour-long drive), we split up into 4 small groups and rotated around the room for 75 minute sessions with each of the 4 presenters.  So I guess I’ll just give you a little run-down on each presenter and what she or he brought for us to play with.

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Technology Petting Zoo

I’m pretty excited about the Iowa Library Association Support Staff Conference coming up on Friday, May 15.  They’re calling it the Technology Petting Zoo (isn’t that such a great name?!) and it looks like we’re going to get lots of fun hands-on experience with all kinds of tech toys — Kindles, iPhones, RSS feeds, GPS, etc, etc…  Check back here after the 15th for some photos and a run-down of the day’s events!