April 27-29 Hyatt Regency Crystal City
Arlington, VA

We recently took some time to interview a few of our speakers to get their insights into the future of libraries and the skills and technologies necessary to evolve and we think you'll love what they had to say!

David Lee King
Digital Services Director, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, and Publisher, davidleeking.com

What key library issues are you most concerned about for the coming year?

I'd say two things: the maker movement and bandwidth issues. For the maker movement, it's such a cool thing to come alongside our customers and partner with them in making things. It's so much more than just giving them a book. But it also involves finding space, buying pricey equipment, re-writing library policies, and pretty much disrupting everything "traditional" in a library.

For bandwidth - libraries need bigger internet pipes! It's not enough to say "oh, we'll go up 10mb this year." You really have to study use, and try to get out ahead of the potential increase for the next year. The goal shouldn't be "good enough." The goal should be providing excellent bandwidth for our customers. And yes - that will definitely cost.

I know you are leading a workshop on tech trends for libraries in 2015 but could you share one with us?

The Internet of Things is something I'll be talking about. For example, my kids use TileApp to help find their keys. TileApp is a tracking device for stuff you lose around the house, and works great. And it's an example of the Internet of Things. I'll explain the trend, and then hold a discussion on how it might affect libraries in the coming years.

M.J. D'Elia
Head of Learning & Curriculum Support Team, McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph

What key library issues are you most concerned about for the coming year?

Everyone who works in the library industry knows that the information landscape has changed radically in the last decade - and the pace of change is only increasing. When I stop to think about it, I am concerned that we have our blinders on. It's not that we don't see the changes, it's that we don't have the right mindset to respond to those changes. We need to build resilience, but too often we respond with reluctance. When situations require adaptability, we choose apathy. We need to stop assuming that the communities we serve accept our value implicitly. The truth is, we need to figure out what meaningful, deep community engagement looks like in a world where distraction is a text message away. To do that we need courageous leaders who are willing to experiment, make bold bets, and understand how to learn from failure.

Why do you think business models are important for libraries?

Most librarians initially squirm when I talk about using business models in libraries - the two seem mostly incompatible; however, I think business model conversations introduce essential concepts that too often get overlooked in libraries. For example, business models are intensely customer focused. Knowing what your customers want (and even need) from you, helps you marshal the appropriate resources. Business models also require you to measure what matters. Monitoring key metrics means that you know when it's time to invest, alter, or (gasp!) kill one of your services. Lastly, business models insist that we consider sustainability and plan for scalability. It may sound like business modeling is a tool for senior leadership, but that's not entirely true. In fact, one of the best outcomes of trying to plot a business model is the deep conversations among frontline staff. In short, business models allow you to step back from the detailed day-to-day and see how everything works together. From my perspective, libraries need to better understand the whole picture.

Wendy Newman
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

What key library issues are you most concerned about for the coming year?

I am most concerned about the inward focus of many libraries, librarians, and library associations, and the impact that this has on our leadership and our advocacy. I believe that, to quote the Harwood Institute, an outward-looking perspective, combined with a recognition that we are facilitators of knowledge creation (David Lankes) rather than simply providers of materials and information services, will re-invigorate our libraries and serve our communities best. It can’t be about institutional survival.

Tell us why you think MOOCs are so important to our library community.

MOOC are important to our community for three reasons. First, they are a way for us to learn and converse together, conveniently, on a massive scale. I’m in the company of librarians and library supporters from 128 countries in my MOOC: Library Advocacy Unshushed! Second, librarians are facilitators of learning in their communities. We should be offering all manner of direct education opportunities – from Los Angeles Public Library’s high school certificate to spaces for MOOC learners to group. It flows from our longstanding mandate. Third, we are creators of great learning experiences, designers of information literacy programs, you name it. Let’s not limit ourselves to checking bib references and copyright clearances while our universities are offering MOOCs!


Dr. Michael Stephens
Assistant Professor, San Jose State University & Tame the Web

What key library issues are you most concerned about for the coming year?

I think it’s an ongoing issue that each and every library find the best and most useful to tap into community needs. Librarians need to be present in communities (city, town, campus, school, company) beyond the four walls of the library. Technology helps but so does getting out and being visible. How can people care about us if they don’t know what we do or who we are? And, we should all be ready with that elevator pitch about our jobs, anytime and anywhere. Please see: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/02/opinion/michael-stephens/whats-your-pitch-office-hours/

Tell us why you think MOOCs are so important to our library community.

I think all learning - in MOOCs, in library instruction classes, in LIS programs - should be as open and connected as possible and built on collaborative experience. Instructors must be present and encourage the learning community. We can do that by providing learning opportunities that are practical, production centered, and get the learner actually doing something. I also believe we should take advantage of the fact that learning can happen ANYWHERE. Our MOOC students and my students at SJSU School of Information participate from wherever they happen to be: blogging on the go via their phones, watching a presentation while doing laundry, or working on a project with others via whatever tool suits them best.

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