Conferences, Musings, School Libraries

Thoughts and notes from #CIL11

One of the things I dislike about keynotes is that they’re canned: the speaker usually comes with a “yay! Librarians!!” message or to sell a point-of-view/product, all very slick and PowerPointed.  Thanks to weather conditions, the keynote speaker was unable to get to CIL in time.  Now, I’d been interested to hear him because he was a Google Books representative, and there are some issues with the whole project (ironically, the settlement was struck down by a judge the next day.

Faced with an empty stage, the organizers quickly threw together a panel to talk about e -books in general.  While you can watch the conversation (or read the transcript), here’s my notes and takeaway:

  • When you read online, it’s less about reading it all and more about discovery (eg, research rather than immersive reading).  The question then becomes all about context – what about snippet views, which can lead you to assume you’re getting the fact rather than the straw horse argument?
  • What are the unintended consequences when we have immersive entertainment instead of actual experiences – socialization issues? ergonomic issues?
  • We no longer care about the bound periodical collection – use the shelving/housing space for other things.  What is the difference between a chapter and a scholarly article (I’d argue that the latter has a summation that the former may not).  Periodicals/journals will all be fully integrated with internet, videos, etc. in the future.
  • All of this is because we can do these things – but what about commercial boundaries? In terms of the Google project, we’re in Google space, not public space.  To maintain that public space, libraries should help digitize local collections (but what about privacy issues?).
  • The more information that’s out there, the better it drives Google results – contrast this to paid for content.
  • NOTE: the Internet Archive is also digitizing content – more library friendly, except for the cost of the digitization (Google is doing it in hopes of collecting on the back-end)
  • Right now, despite the volume of digitized content, we don’t have a huge corpus of books available for searching.  Why?  Copyright.
  • What happens to HTML5 and eReader models?  In 2011, SCOTUS will rule on copyright and access (also, Congress is trying to assert copyright over works currently in public domain – LINK)
  • We’re all upset about HarperCollins and other publishers changing the rules post-fact.  Why? Lending e-books is scaring publishers (they’re losing control of product/copy).  Libraries are bound by legal models that refer only to print.
    • Assume massive change is on its way regarding streaming, digital downloads, eReaders and the business models
    • Libraries and bookstores need to radically change
    • There’s no DRM for many academic resources, only commercial ones
    • HC isn’t the only problem – Simon & Schuster and MacMillian aren’t even in the game! Why isn’t there an outcry over that?
    • What does a digital collection mean for space and usage?
      • We need to have smaller, more vigorous working collections
      • This will open up more resources to those that may not find them using traditional techniques
      • What about long-form, immersive reading?
      • Ebooks are not always cheaper than print
      • Why are we letting Bezos/Amazon set the agenda re: format, and why are we allowing Jobs/Apple to censor apps/books via iTunes?  This is antithetical to the librarian’s credo, yet we’re not in an uproar!

So, with that as the starter the conference started…   Here are random notes from the sessions I attended.

Marketing Solutions and Homework Helpers –

The big takeaway from these two sessions was that you need to brand yourself as a Library Team – everyone in the space should be equally available to help students.  Know your target audience and market to them (it’s not just students, it’s parents and administrators).  Allow them to make suggestions/ask questions.

Research Tips/Tools –

  • Off-line and on-line research are not the same thing – we need to rethink how we teach students to do each.
  • Search does not equal research, despite what students think (and we tell them)
  • Students need to learn the conventions of on-line reading and research
    • non-fiction has become more visual, text becomes more like a “choose your own adventure” book thanks to the influence of web design (think DK books)
    • students need to become savvier about what is an ad (aka “sponsored link”) – usually it’s in a non-standard colored box, but not always
    • Students need to read with an eye towards gathering information, and to get excited about/by information
    • Visuals influence decisions – students don’t “see” credibility the way we do – and they often overwhelm students (they’ll often choose visuals over text when searching)
    • Have students read the information aloud – does it make sense? If not, why not?
    • Remind them that research is a process, that the first search is not the final search (process = presearch, search, re-search), and they need to utilize all types of reading
    • Always be open to learning that your question may not be the right question – the clue is usual in the language of the site
    • Student’s biggest worry is being wrong, not ‘authority’ – that is your hook!

Teach them to think and look around. Teach them this motto: research is not a straight line

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