The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries
Yesterday I took part in the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries. I was invited to be a panel member following my participation in the group which took part in the development of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition.
The half-day symposium provided an opportunity for “library professionals, educators, and thought leaders will explore four major themes from the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition”:
- Emphasis on Mobile
- Increasing Access and Discovery Opportunities
- Content Management and Technical Infrastructure
- Rethinking the Roles and Relationships of Librarians
Together with Alex Freeman (NMC), Joan Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information), Geneva Henry (George Washington University) and Gary Price I took part in the opening session on Emphasis on Mobile.
The virtual symposium was hosted on Google Hangouts and attracted about 100 registered participants.
Emphasis on Mobile
The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (which is available in PDF format) highlights mobile apps as one of the two most important technological developments for academic and research libraries in the short term. The importance of mobile content and delivery is being driven by its prioritization as a key trend which is driving technology adoption in academic and research libraries over the next one to two years.
I won’t attempt to summarize the session as I was concentrating on my contribution, ensuring the technology work and monitoring the backchannels (the Twitter feed and the discussion on Google Hangout) and thus was not able to keep notes on the points made by my fellow panelists. However I used Storify to create a summary of the #NMCHz tweets about the session. In addition, as mentioned below, I also created a Lanyrd entry for the event which can be used by those who attended the event to provide links to reports on the event.
However it is fair to say that the panelists all felt that the mobile environment is important for the future and provides valuable opportunities for librarians.
Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere
The panelists were asked to respond to the question “Do you have a mobile use scenario that you think is particularly innovative?“. To paraphrase my response:
Think about the world we are now in. We each have (or can have) the equivalent of a supercomputer in our hand. And just as James T Kirk on Star Trek could ask questions of the Enterprise’s computer, so we can make use of tools such as Google and Wikipedia to address out informational queries and social media tools to interact with our social and professional networks. For me, therefore, I wouldn’t like to mention a specific innovative technology. Rather it’s about the scale of use of technologies which we possess. “The future is here and may now be evenly distributed – and it’s in our hands!“. I think this is the exciting future. And surprising for some, use of mobile devices in bed might be important for many of our users.
My comment about use of mobile devices in bed was based on the responses to a question I asked the audience “Have you ever used a mobile device for work-related purposes in bed?“. The responses on the Twitter channel suggested that some felt somewhat apprehensive about admitting to this:
- #NMCHz uh, yes I do use my device to do work while I am abed. :)
- #guilty #nmchz Regularly use my smartphone in bed to reply in the evening and to check email in the morning.
whilst others seemed more unapologetic:
- #nmchz i have used my smartphone daily while still laying in bed
- Me too. Every morning. RT @MULkatie: #NMCHz Checked my work email before I got out of bed this morning
- @briankelly yes I have done this many times
- I’d miss too much of general interest if I only checked when at work. How times have changed since I started at IA in 1998!
However some never use mobile devices for work-related purposes in bed:
- I have never done that in bed. #nmchz
I first asked this question back in 2012 and summarised the responses in a post on which described how “Twitterers Do It In Bed!“. Since then I have asked the question at a number of events and found, fairly consistently, that the responses are split between those who feel confident about this type of behaviour, those who seem reluctant to admit to it and those who do not use mobile devices in bed, with some being horrified at the idea.
Clearly taking one’s work to bed is a personal decision and taking work to bed which is accessed on a mobile device (rather than on dead trees!) should not be something to be done without the agreement of one’s partner. However asking this question is useful, I feel, as it provides indications of changing patterns of behaviour.
Privacy Implications of Mobile Devices
In the symposium much of the discussion focussed on the potential benefits of mobile devices to support teaching, learning and research activities in higher education. Due to lack of time (the session only lasted for 45 minutes) it was not possible to address barriers to their use. There was some discussion about DRM barriers to accessing content but, in the conclusions, I highlighted privacy issues as a particularly complex area which needs to be acknowledged. In the presentations we heard speakers describe the importance of content shared on social media and the value of, for example, archiving Twitter streams for subsequent analysis.
I agree with these comments. Indeed in this post I have made use of the Storify archive of yesterday’s tweets which I created and cited some of the tweets in this post. Although in the past people have suggested that it is inappropriate to cite tweets (and may infringe copyright unless permission has been given). I should also note that although use of an event hashtag (“#NMCHz” in this case) may be regarded by some as an implied licence to permit reuse, in this case some of the tweets were public messages to me and did not include the hashtag.
Additional comments were made on the Google Hangout chat tool. I have not included relevant comments in this post, mainly because of technical barriers (I could not archive the content) but also because I feel that the Google Hangout was more of a private area than a public tweet. But is this an appropriate distinction?
I concluded my summary by mentioning the recent release of the Samaritan’s Radar app which monitored Twitter feeds and the subsequent backlash which led to the withdrawal of the app. As described by the BBC News:
An app made by the Samaritans that was supposed to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal has been pulled due to “serious” concerns.
Might we find that our current scholarly interests in analysis of social media is meant with a similar backlash? A topic I will revisit in a subsequent post, but I’d welcome your thoughts.
In addition to the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries a Lanyrd entry for the event is also available. Since Lanyrd provides a wiki-style approach to content creation and updates I hope that participants at the virtual symposium will add links to trip reports and other resources relevant to the seminar.