Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stephen Abrams at SLA in Seattle

Day #2 of SLA was full of fascinating discussions. Stephen Abram's session, "Reality 2.0 - Transforming ourselves and our Associations" offered the most thought provoking ideas - definitely the highlight of my experience at this conference.

For those who don't already know, Stephen Abram is President 2008 of SLA and was past-President of the Canadian Library Association. He is Vice President Innovation for SirsiDynix and Chief Strategist for the SirsiDynix Institute.

Here's a flavour of what I thought were key points that really gave me food for thought:

(1) What's wrong with Google and Wikipedia? - It's okay for librarians to refer to Google or Wikipedia. Britannica has 4% error; Wikipedia has 4% error, plus tens of thousands of more entries. It's not wrong to start with Wikipedia & Google, but it is wrong when we stop there.

(2) Don't dread change - This is perhaps the whiniest generation this century. The generation that dealt with two world wars and a depression did fine learning new tools like refrigerators, televisions, radios, and typewriters. And they survived. Why can't we? Is it so hard to learn to use a wiki?

(3) Focus! - We need to focus on the social rather than the technology. Wikis, blogs, and podcasts will come and go. But connecting with users won't. We must not use technology just for the sake of catching up. There has to be a reason to use them.

(4) Don't Be Anonymous - Do we give our taxes to a nameless accountant? Our teeth to a nameless dentist? Heart surgeon who has no title? If these professions don't, then why are information professionals hiding behind their screens. Go online! Use social networking as your tools to reach out to users!

(5) Millennials - This is perhaps the 1st generation in human history that its younger generation teaches its previous generation. However, though there is much to learn from youths about technology, there is also much need to mentor and train for this profession to prosper and flourish.

(6) Change is to come! - Expect the world to be even more connected than it already has. With HDTV, that means more cables are freed up for telecommunications. Google's endgame is to provide wireless accesss through electricity. There're already laser keyboards where you can type on any surface. The world is changing. So must information professionals.

(7) Build paths, not barriers - When there are pathlines created by pedestrians, libraries commonly erect fences to prevent walking. Why not create a path where one exists already so that the library becomes more accessible? Librarians must go to the user, not the other way around. If patrons are using Facebook, then librarians need to use that as a channel for communication.

Stephen's power presentation is here for your viewing pleasure as well.

1 comment:

Linda Summers said...

Thank you for taking such fantastic notes during Stephen Abram's presentation and sharing them with those of use who were unable to attend.

I find his opinions highly intriguing, especially the supposition that the younger generation is teaching its elders. Millennials are likely not the first generation to do so, but it does appear that their influence is more pervasive than generations of the past. I'm guessing information technology, and the enhanced communication systems it brings, has much to do with this new trend.