Library 2.016 Libraries of the Future: Inspirational Highlights

iStudent Blog

Published: October 20, 2016

On October 6, 2016, several iSchool faculty members and many experts in the information profession gathered online for the Library 2.0 virtual conference, now in its sixth year.

The Library 2.016 conference involves a series of mini-conferences available free to professionals and students to provide information, resources and inspiration. This conference was entitled Libraries of the Future with past conferences of the year being Library as Classroom and Privacy in the Digital Age. Here’s a taste of the inspirational highlights I handpicked for you.

Opening Keynote –Nigel Jacob and Jesus Gerena: Innovation and Change Management as Key Players for Libraries of the Future
To start off the Library 2.016’s final mini-conference, iSchool Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh welcomed expert presenters and dozens of attendees from all over the world. Hirsh was excited to introduce the keynote speakers, being some of the industry’s most thoughtful innovators.

Nigel Jacob works at Boston City Hall with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, which he calls “the city’s innovation laboratory.” Jacob and the organization run outreach to the public to encourage builders and designers to build and innovate, learn and become part of a community. His first slide demonstrated a diagram that encouraged a process of exploration, experimentation and evaluation. “We always want to choose projects that have the capacity to change people’s lives,” said Jacob.

The second keynote speaker was Jesus Gerena, managing partner of the Family Independence Initiative that serves as a national model for recognizing and resourcing initiatives in American communities. The mission of this organization is close to my own heart, having been a part of social services and wanting to provide children the opportunity for success through library-centered early childhood literacy programs that both educate and encourage families as they raise their kids.

The graphs and figures Gerena shared were both shocking and frustrating. I applaud the Family Independence Initiative for making a mission out of informing, training and empowering the working poor by listening, asking questions and analyzing data. “The Family Independence Initiative,” said Gerena, “offers a supportive environment as well as the opportunity to invest in the community.” The presentation demonstrated the impact effective change management could have on a community.

Hirsh closed the keynote presentations by inviting Jacob and Gerena to answer a few questions. “What are some of the disciplines or skills that help drive your desire for innovation?” Hirsh asked. “Teachers, engineers, designers or scientists who participated in the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics are all skilled at design, in one form or another,” Jacob said. Genera lauded the traits of perseverance, patience and the ability to stay true to one’s core values.

Michelle Chen—Information Visualization Meets Libraries: New Opportunities
I then went on to listen to a presentation by iSchool assistant professor Dr. Michelle Chen. She defined and discussed at length the role information visualization can have for libraries. Data Visualization is the representation of data that enables new discoveries that emphasize cognition. At its basic level, graphs and charts can be used to see the results and representations of data, rather than simply numbers.

The current ‘Data Storm’ (defined as too much information and a lot more to come) challenges information professionals to organize data and make it searchable. Chen stressed the need for skilled professionals to create new retrieval models, building data sets that are useful and accessible, designing metadata schemes for large scale data sets and creating taxonomies for these large data sets.

Chen’s presentation highlighted how the use of information visualization and searchable data could enable libraries to increase opportunity. Libraries can provide data visualization technologies for researchers to see the trends and results of certain data specific to their field. In this way, researchers can collaborate with libraries to discover new directions and opportunities. “Change of policy landscape,” Chen said, “has put a greater emphasis on public access to the results of research funded by the National Health Institute of the federal government.” Researchers need skilled information professionals more than ever to help them find the data they are looking for.

Laurie Putnam, Mark Hudson, Tasha Bergson-Michelson—Libraries and Democracy
I went from big data to democracy, a seemingly large leap to those unfamiliar with the information world. But if we are to provide information for all then we must make it accessible and findable, and conversely if we make it findable then it is our duty as librarians to provide free and equal access.

School of Information instructor Laurie Putnam started out the session by reminding listeners of the foundations of public libraries in the country’s history of democracy. “Libraries are centers of learning and community—people trust libraries,” Putnam said. Especially in a time where there is so much information and much of it is either unreliable or taken out of context.

Democracy is one of the core values of libraries according to the ALA. We can inform people and teach them how to inform themselves through physical and digital collections and provide community spaces for informed, civil conversation.

Putnam then shared a chart created from the Media Insight Project and the Pew Research Center. People have confidence in libraries—congress and the press being at the bottom. Libraries get the vote with more than half Americans choosing them as a trusted institution.

Public librarian Mark Hudson went on to share what his library in Monroeville, Pennsylvania does to promote community participation. The Monroeville Public LIbrary provides a service entitled Hot Topics that provides the community with links to reliable online resources that represent a variety of points of view on a current event, topic or issue. “The goal of this service,” said Hudson, “is to help the community gain basic knowledge and understanding of a topic so they can more effectively engage in discussions and debates, vote and engage in electoral politics with a better understanding of the issues, and continue to study and learn about the topic.”

Tasha Bergson-Michelson shared her experience as an instructional and programming librarian at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California. She highlighted three ways to support democracy within schools –provide opportunities for choice and democratic governance of school life, encourage civic engagement and foster an informed democracy. She demonstrated how she incorporated these principles by developing student-designed and led programs and student-developed collections.  

Closing Keynote—Moderator Miguel Figueroa with Amy Garmer and Susan Hildreth
Moderator Miguel Figueroa,Director of the ALA Center for the Future of Libraries, closed the conference by talking about how each session during the day connected with the opening presentation. He wrapped up the day with a final inspiration: “Let’s look at how librarians interface with their communities and engage multiple partners to envision very positive futures for our work going forward.”

Amy Garmer works at the Aspen Institute, creating a dialogue on public libraries that researches looking at digital media quality, civic engagement and the information needs of the community. The Dialogue’s website LibraryVision.org provides access to tools, news and information. “Libraries need to align their programs and services with the goals and priorities of the community,” said Garmer.

Susan Hildreth also worked with the Aspen Institute and now teaches at the University of Washington Information School. Her work focuses on reshaping curriculum and teaming up with MLIS students.

Look for more inspiring conversations from Library 2.0 in the coming year. It’s a conference you don’t want to miss, but if you do, you can always listen to the recordings.

For related content from the SJSU iSchool, check out these articles:
Dr. Sue Alman & Taking Charge of Your Career

Enhance Your Coursework, Knowledge and Career Horizons with iSchool Webcasts

Making Technology Assistance and Resources Easy to Find at the iSchool

images courtesy of Library 2.016 and jscreationzs

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