Norm Jacknis at Library 2.015 — Making the Future Happen Now for Libraries

iStudent Blog

Published: November 11, 2015

This is the second of a series of posts summarizing highlights of the Library 2.015 Worldwide Virtual Conference in October 2015. To access the full set of recorded sessions, go to the iSchool’s Library 2.015 page and look for the links to the keynote speakers. All three of the presentations covered in this blog will be there, and you can get all the juicy details for yourself!

Similar to the presentation given earlier in the day by iSchool Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh, the president of the board at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, Norm Jacknis, looked at trends that will help shape the future of libraries in his talk entitled, “How the Future Requires Us To Re-envision Libraries: Trends in Technology, Society, the Economy and Government Provide New Opportunities for Libraries.”

Rethink the Institution
Jacknis began the presentation by asking, “How do we as information professionals make libraries institutions of the 21st century and beyond?” We rethink the institution and anticipate the future. That doesn’t mean gazing into your crystal ball or busting out the Ouija board, but taking a serious and educated look at what’s going on in the world of technology and what information users really want and need. He especially emphasized the need to anticipate and be the change.

“Libraries do not exist in insolation from the rest of the world,” Jacknis said. “They need to be embedded in their communities and understand and respond appropriately to how their patrons’ lives are changing.”

Librarians and their institutions need to step up and be better than Google, better than Amazon and more inviting than Starbucks. As an institution, libraries have the potential to be real hubs of the community by offering relevant programs, solutions to a myriad of daily challenges involving technology, social services, school projects, tax filing and so much more. Every information professional is responsible for being a discerning personal search engine with a personality and the ability to serve with compassion and grace. If you ask me, libraries have way more style and class than any caffeinated froth that a chain of cafés can offer. Just sayin’.

Rethink the Services
Jacknis went on to talk about how libraries and information professionals can provide services and products to individuals. As an example of futuristic products to suit the needs of the modern user, he examined the definition of a digital book. Like the picture of the DJ that he showed mixing different beats and sounds on a set of turntables, a digital book is a mash-up of sorts, combining sources of information in a way that is most accessible to the patron or client. 

As information professionals, we will need to know the best resources out there as well as have the technology to put together such a product. This is the world we live in these days, and both institutions and professionals need to keep up. We also need cost-effective lifelong learning to make a living in a knowledge-based economy. Basically we will have to train nonstop. But don’t despair—this kind of learning is fun! No, really. Both Jacknis and Hirsh listed in their presentations a variety of resources to look at to continue your stockpiling of knowledge, skills and essential info pro abilities, including:
·      Coursera
·      EdX
·      Ted talks
·      YouTube
·      eHow

The iSchool, as you know, is another great source of continuing education, with open classes, advanced certificates, conferences, and webinars to help keep you current.

Of course when patrons go to search Google for something on their own, the problem becomes “too much information and too little knowledge.” Here libraries and information professionals have the opportunity to be helpful and relevant and “keep people from drowning in too much information.” Jacknis encouraged everyone by pointing out that we have the ability to organize and curate the vast amount of free training and courses online by subject and level and create individually appropriate learning packages in a whole range of subjects.

Bring on the future
Jacknis made it clear in his presentation that libraries should be the ones to lead in the search for relevant knowledge. “Innovation is the competitive edge in a knowledge economy.” The future is now, or more precisely, you can make the future happen now with the latest and greatest in technology and your stockpile of knowledge of all things innovative. Continue your education with a variety of sources and go out and bring the future to your information community. 

For more inspiration from Library 2.0, check out:
Dr. Sandra Hirsh at Library 2.015—Starting the Day and Supercharging with Motivation

Being In the Know—Advice About Technology and Program Funding from the Library 2.015 Spring Summit

Master Your Skills with the Advanced Certificate in Strategic Management of Digital Assets and Services 

image of dj courtesy of goodkarmadjs.com  

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