Over the weekend I had the opportunity along with other Sandusky Library staff members to attend the American Library Association’s annual conference. This year, the conference was hosted in Chicago, and more than 26,000 librarians, library staff members, library supporters and vendors from all areas of the profession attended. The theme for this year’s conference was “Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves,” which helped set the tone for the conference and reassured the profession that transformation is good, and needed.
Naturally, I was on the hunt to discover the emerging technology trends in the field and what I found was very exciting. As I attended informational sessions and met new librarians I noticed a common keyword - hackerspaces. According to Wikipedia, “a hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace, or creative space) is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital arts or electronic art, can meet, socialize, and/or collaborate”. Many libraries have started to carve out space within their facilities to create their own makerspace like Allen County Public Library and Chicago Public Library. These libraries along with many others have invested in 3D printers, laser cutters, milling machines, and work tools, just to name a few, and invite their patrons to come into the library space to create things. Makerspaces are incredibly resourceful because they allow patrons to not only obtain information that they are interested in but to also create it before they leave.
Another topic of discussion for librarians is the concept of streaming content. Many of us may already be familiar with streaming content services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime, where we can instantly watch movies or TV shows on an internet connected device without downloading the file first. With the services mentioned, you must pay a subscription fee in order to access the content. But what if I told you that a service similar to these may be available and all you need is a library card in order to enjoy streaming audiobooks, music, and videos? Pretty neat, huh? Here is one example of a streaming service, Hoopla that is helping libraries make this vision a reality.
The third major tech trend that was buzzed about, which is not new but is often talked about, is patron privacy. With the recent National Security Agency allegations, librarians ramped up the conversation on patron privacy and how we can continue protecting patron’s privacy when it comes to library account information. I think the library and CLEVNET does a fantastic job of protecting your information, but it’s helpful to be mindful of potential issues and pitfalls.
All in all it was a fabulous conference that generated a lot of great ideas that I’m hoping to bring back to our library.
Have you noticed emerging technology trends that you think the library should know about? Share in the comments below!