ILI – My Favourite Library Conference
I am now back home after spending a hugely enjoyable and stimulating three days at the ILI 2013 conference. This was the fifteenth in the annual Internet Librarian International conference series, As I have attended fourteen of the conferences (I had been invited to speak at a conference in the National Library of Singapore for the ILI conference I missed) it’s clear that I am a great fan of the event. This is for a number of reasons; in particular the international flavour of the event provides an opportunity to hear about developments in the library and online information world from a wide sector. It is also a very friendly event, which provides a valuable opportunity to develop and cultivate one’s professional network – as ever, the numbers of people I follow on Twitter has grown over the past few days; who needs business cards when swapping Twitter IDs can provide an ‘interactive business card’ – a suggestion I made back in 2008 which now seems to have become a mainstream approach.
The Future Technologies and Their Applications Workshop
The conference itself took place over two days. However on Monday three full-day workshops took place, on search, Libraries and MOOCs and future technologies. Myself and Tony Hirst facilitated the workshop on “Future Technologies and Their Applications“. As described in the abstract the workshop set out to ensure that participants were made aware of methodologies which could be used to detect new developments and gather evidence which could be used to justify investment n exploring the technologies in more detail and implementing the technologies:
Despite the uncertainties faced by librarians and information professionals, technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, offering many new opportunities for the sector. At the same time, technological developments can be distracting and may result in wasted time and effort (remember the excitement provided by Second Life?!).
This workshop session will help participants identify potentially relevant technological developments by learning about and making use of ‘Delphic’ processes. The workshop also provides insight into processes for spotting ‘weak signals’ which may indicate early use of technologies which could be important in the future.
But having identified potentially important technological developments, organisations need to decide how to respond. What will be the impact on existing technologies? What are the strategic implications and what are the implications for staff within the organisation?
The interactive workshop session will provide opportunities to address the challenges in understanding the implications of technological developments and making appropriate organisational interventions.
We highlighted Second Life as a technology which failed to live up to its expectations and demonstrated the need for more systematic approaches for detecting new technologies which could be embedded, However we also described the need for libraries to be willing to take risks and provided a risks and opportunities framework which could be used to assess risks and minimise or, perhaps, accept such risks. Part of this framework was to assess the risks of doing nothing, and the missed opportunities this could entail.
A total of 21 participants booked for the workshop. They were from no fewer than eleven countries (UK, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar) and six continents (Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australasia and Asia). This provided some challenges but also opportunities in learning from the differing experiences and challenges which the participants faced.
In the workshop we made use of processes which I described in a paper on What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future which I presented at the EMTACL (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries ) conference held in Trondheim a year ago and a paper by myself and Paul Hollins (CETIS) on Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow which I presented at the Umbrella 2013 conference earlier this year. The Delphic processes described in the papers had been previously used by UKOLN and CETIS in our work for the JISC Observatory which, prior to the cessation of its funding was an “initiative to systematise the way in which the JISC anticipates and responds to projected future trends and scenarios in the context of the use of technology in Higher & Further Education in the UK“.
Following use of the Delphic process to identify and prioritise new developments we also used the risks and opportunities framework which has been described in papers on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.
Tony Hirst also provided some techniques which could be used to identify developments which may be taking place. “What have you noticed around you which may indicate changes which may be significant?” he asked, which made we reflect on how WiFi in conferences is now starting to “just work”. In addition I subsequently told Tony how I had purchased a discounted copy of The Guardian using an electronic voucher. Another technique which Tony suggested was to provide a question for which the answer might be “At the library”. For example during his talk in the Data Librarian session at the ILI conference itself Tony suggested that there could be opportunities for librarians to provide training and support for their users in developing skills in SQL and use of regular expressions. Could “At the library” be an answer to the question a researcher is asked by a colleague: “Where did you learn how to take the data from diverse sources and manipulate them prior to data visualisation?” for someone working in an institution in which library staff are developing new skills and moving into new areas?
The final part of the framework used in the workshop during which participants made a business case for exploring new technologies was an approach I have learnt recently from my participation in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC organized by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones.
In the second assignment on the MOOC participants were asked to make plans for the deployment of emerging technologies using a planning checklist which included completion of the following statement:
Convince ______ that by _______ they will ________ which will ________ because _______.
Have identified key technological developments using the Delphic process the participants, working in three groups, where asked to provide a business case for their area which included the methodology from the Hyperlinked Library MOOC.
How did the workshop go? Unfortunately I missed the final afternoon of the ILI 2013 conference but Alison McNab tweeted this summary from the final session:
The @Philbradley session on Privacy, #LibraryCamp inspiration & @briankelly workshop on new technology all mentioned as highlights
The evaluation forms provided some useful feedback. We asked participants to summarise things which they would do as a result of the workshop when they return to work. The responses included:
- Discuss Delphi with our IT development Team
- Use the Delphic process and Action Brief Model to plan new tech projects as I brainstorm them
- Discuss within the library if the hierarchy must be kept up for the use of social media and cannot everyone, in the name of the library, use social media with our users
- Look at the [IFLA and NMC Horizon] Trend reports and Gartner report
We asked participants to List suggestions and recommendations you will make to your colleagues. The responses included:
- Risk assess new technologies
- Approaching potential new technologies and looking at evidence, case studies & asking about its application in a library context.
- Take more risks, share disaster experience
- The “have you asked the Library?” is quite an eye-opener. It forces one to rethink what they think they are doing.
- Rethink the role of librarianship, current and future
We asked participants to What aspects of the workshop did you find most useful? The responses included:
- Discussions and networking. Tony’s “Did you try the Library?” Horizon project Top 10.
- The Scenario Planning process. Template for proposing tech/service. Loved the two morning presentations.
- Share disaster experiences within library community, Take risks with new technologies.
- Discussions with other people. Useful ‘recipes’.
- The 3 short term and medium term technologies to look for. The Delphic process.
- The discussions and group sessions. Overview of reports.
- The international diversity of the participants.
- I found it most useful to discuss library issues with fellow librarians/participants
- The personal experience stories from librarians. Planning of new proposals for library.
We asked participants to Summarise aspects of the workshop which could be improved. The responses included:
- Furniture layout in advance of the workshop
- Would have liked more focus on emerging technologies (specific ones)
- Warm up the room :-)
- I would have preferred more practical examples relevant to the library even if they end up being Second Life.
- Cooperative parts, participation parts.
- Less talking, more doing.
- It would be nice if new technologies had been presented. The only ones mentioned were Google, Wikipedia and Amazon. I already knew about them and did not need to hear about them again.
The general comments included:
- Well done for working with such a mixed group
- Loved the bit.ly interactive Doc notes idea – very helpful for attendees and makes it easier for me to share this info with my colleagues back home.
- Well-organized. Group work was a but difficult because the group was too international, that means the problems in the different countries are too different.
- I really enjoyed it!
- Good workshop! Thanks
- Liked it a lot!
- I think it would have been useful if the presenters, at least one, was a librarian. The two presenters did not seem to know about the legal issues concerning library technologies. Several things they said were illegal.
This was the fist time Tony and I had ran this workshop. We were pleased with the workshop and the active participation from the participants. We had said that the structure of the workshop may change in light of the feedback form the participants. This meant that three presentations, on digital badges, amplified events for professional development and hyperlinked libraries, were not given. Instead we responded to requests from a couple of the participants to address the broader issues of the future of libraries. However these slides, together with all of the resources used in this workshop, have been made available and use of a Creative Commons CC-BY licence means that they can be reused by the participants (and others) in their own institution.
One of the discussion groups commented that the six participants were from six different countries. I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case for workshop sessions at the Internet Librarian conference which is held in the US and attracts primarily a North American audience. Despite the concerns Tony and I had when we first heard of the global diversity of the participants at the session we are pleased with the feedback we received. In retrospect, however, the title of the workshop did not correctly reflect the abstract. Rather than “Future Technologies and Their Applications” we should have called the workshop “Predicting Future Technologies”.
The slides used in the workshop are available below. Note that the slides hosted on Slideshare are the latest version. The Authorstream versions are provided as a backup copy.
|A1: Workshop Introduction
||B1: Predicting Technology Trends: a Methodology
||CO: Future Doodles
|C1: Amplified Events (not used)
||C2: Digital Badges (not used)
||C3: The Hyperlinked Library (not used)
|D1: Gathering Interests
||D2: Group Exercises
|E1: Scenario Planning For Libraries
||F1: Review and Next Steps
NOTE: Jeroen de Boer has just published a report on the workshop (and a number of other events). Google Translate has been used to provide an English translation. This describes how “we opted for the development of mobile. Because my group were mainly employed by university and research libraries was their focus very focused on issues relating to the accessibility of private collections and therefore problems of copyright etc. I said that it is right to look at how external sources very interesting for us including academic, can link to library collections“.
The group included the following summary. They would:
Convince management that by implementing mobile they will exploit Linked Open Data collections which will optimize the library collection in order to attract new and current users because they will keep our library relevant anywhere anytime.
I was pleased to see this approach, developed by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones, being used by others.
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