I agree with Peter, that we have to stop thinking about what we do in terms
of the "technology du jour." That will keep us squarely in the realm of
doing the things that we have always done and are already doing. When I
think about innovation in libraries, I think about going back to our
mission and thinking very large-scale about how we would achieve that
mission without reference to existing systems.
For example, why do we focus so much on user discovery through our
catalogs? Even when we are trying to create innovative catalogs, we are
still focused on the catalog. Users (or "members," if you ascribe to Lankes
philosophy of librarianship) don't find information that way, and they
don't want to. We need to start thinking from a community perspective, not
from a library perspective. What are people who don't use the library doing?
I wonder sometimes how many of us use our own services, as users, not as
librarians. For example, I work in an academic library setting, but I'm an
active user of my public library, and it's very interesting to me to
contrast my use of the different libraries. I think it gives me a good
perspective on what users want to do.
I do think there are roles for big data crunching in libraries, on a
consortial or regional level. The work OCLC Research is doing with
mega-regions is an interesting example. Looking at data in aggregate can
tell us a lot of useful things about resource sharing and collection
development. I'd like to see more aggregated research on users and library
The area where I'm most involved right now is in releasing library holdings
metadata openly on the web, in discoverable and re-usable forms. It's
amazing to me that we still don't do this. Imagine the things that could be
created by users and software developers if they had access to information
about which libraries hold which resources.
On Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 4:01 PM, Peter Schlumpf <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> I have come to believe that to really innovate, one has to stop thinking
> in terms of "clouds" (whatever the hell those things are) tables,
> relational database, MARC records, the technology du jour. Throw that all
> away. Don't even think about it. Even more important, don't worry about
> what other people are doing or thinking. Don't even get caught up in
> programming languages or operating systems. That's like being a person
> driven by his tools.
> Find ideas in other things beyond the techie stuff. I have found that Zen
> Buddhism has a lot to say about semantics and how words are only imperfect
> labels to meaning.
> Come up with an idea and keep working at it, even if it may take decades.
> Don't worry about anything else. Listen to your critics, but don't let them
> drive you. That's how innovation happens.
> -----Original Message-----
> >From: Matthew Sherman <[log in to unmask]>
> >Sent: Jul 17, 2013 1:01 PM
> >To: [log in to unmask]
> >Subject: [CODE4LIB] Libraries and IT Innovation
> >Hello Code4Lib folks,
> >I was having a conversation with my father, who is an enterprise
> >a while ago when I was working on a presentation. I thought it was
> >interesting enough that I wanted to toss out some of the ideas and see if
> >anybody was using them in their libraries. We were discussing innovation,
> >and he was telling me about the areas of innovation his field was looking
> >into. He was saying how the business IT realm was seeing four main areas
> >for innovation: mobile computing, social computing, business
> >intelligence/analytics, and cloud computing. While these are four
> >different areas he was noting how they all relate to making content
> >having all this information do something either for the user or the
> >He provided an example of making content active through the area of big
> >data. For those not familiar with big data Wikipedia describes it as “a
> >collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to
> >process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data
> >processing applications”. An example he mentioned of how this was useful
> >was with Amazon.com’s search logs as they have quite a bit of information
> >about their users and their searches. These logs and the customer
> >information can be analyzed using big data solutions to see who was
> >searching, what they were they searching for, the terms they used, and
> >worked. This information then can be taken and compared to others who
> >similar backgrounds or have done similar searches and provide them with
> >suggestions for items others have found useful, as well as search results
> >slightly more tailored to them. It also lets Amazon adjust their
> >controlled vocabulary so all customers have better search results. All of
> >which makes the content active.
> >Over the course of this conversation I was thinking on how some of this
> >could be applied to the library realm. Mobile computing is an area we as
> >profession are getting better at, but by no means are we there yet. I
> >seen some really good mobile sites for libraries, but other tools we have
> >like CONTENTdm or DSpace are not mobile friendly. I am not trying to pick
> >on them, they are very good toolsets, but if you have ever tried using
> >either on a smartphone they are clunky and hard to work with. Still on
> >whole libraries are making progress with mobile computing.
> >I also see the social aspect of this shining through quite well too. Many
> >libraries have taken well to social media and have come up with some
> >ingenious ways to utilize it to their advantage. As well the push for
> >collaborative space in the physical building plays well into this, though
> >wonder if there is anything else that can be done to open up this
> >collaborative space in the digital realm. I know many of the toolsets are
> >providing some good social options. I was aware of some of the
> >collaborative abilities of institutional repository software, and I just
> >recently was introduced to Primo and really liked their shelf options and
> >the potential for collaboration it gives. Obviously it depends on the
> >institution, but I do wonder if there anymore things that can be done in
> >the digital social realm to provide for the patrons.
> >As for business intelligence and analytics I figured those do not
> >necessarily apply in quite the same way as business IT, but there is still
> >some cross over. Libraries and archives both take a bucket loads of
> >statistics so there might be some interesting ways to look at those
> >statistics that have yet to be considered? This is not an area I have
> >experience with but I am sure others have some interesting ideas about it.
> > I do see ways that the big data analytics I mentioned before potentially
> >can be useful in making the library catalog and discovery more responsive.
> > I can see using it to examine the search terms that the patrons use to
> >search, what they are trying to find, what worked, and what did not work
> >improve our thesauri so that relevant items can appear on even sub-par
> >searches. It could also potentially be used if the system has a login to
> >suggest materials to the user that could be relevant given their past
> >searches. These might be a terrible ideas but I would be curious to see
> >big data analytics might be able to improve discovery.
> >As for cloud computing I am rather unsure of how that can be applied to
> >libraries. Possibly it can be used as part of the collaborative space?
> > Possibly it can be utilized for file redundancy in digital archives to
> >help with preservation of born digital records? I simply am not sure but
> >it is an area of IT innovation so it would be neat to hear people’s ideas.
> >For those who made it this far then thank you for reading through my
> >rambling. I know it was a long posting, but I thought it was an
> >interesting conversation that I wanted to share it because a lot of ideas
> >on innovation from the business IT world libraries can pick up and run
> >in their own unique way. I am sure some of this has been considered and
> >discussed but I would love to hear thoughts people have or what people
> >done in regards to these areas of innovation.
> >Best regards,
> >Matt Sherman