Monday, 6 July 2009

M-Libraries Conference, Vancouver, 23-24 June 2009

Many congratulations to the organisers of this second m-Libraries Conference. It was in many ways the best Conference I have ever attended. Over 120 delegates from all over the world in a stunning venue at University of British Columbia were treated to fine keynotes, a large array of parallel sessions, and excellent social events.
The opening keynote session (Lorcan Dempsey) and following plenaries on the first morning were held in the First Nation Hall with long tables - good for laptops, munching cookies and socialising. I am not going to give a long summary of these but only draw attention to points which interested me and I trust may interest you!

Lorcan Dempsey Vice-President and OCLC Research andChief Strategist, USA"Concentration, Connection, Diffusion:Mobilizing Library Services"

There will be greater investment in the economy in consumer space than in education which will mean users will be used to sophisticated services there and this will challenge us.
There will be a tension between personal learning environments and University VLEs.
Formerly we could expect student work to be around the library, because of our physical materials ; with an abundance of material online how do our sources fit into their learning and communication?
He thinks mobile communbication is more about communicxation than about mobility.
Mentioned the Nokia strapline "Our promise is to help people feel close to what is important to them".
Mobiles can be a good fit for Web generation ways of communication. They provide a sfaety net, and allow incremental social contact (e.g.husband ringing from supermarket for instructions...)
The idea of the institutional web site being prime model of delivery and browser as primary consumption environment is increasingly partial.
Content is being atomised - able to be cut up, tailored and consumed. (eg BBC has invested much into this with RSS feeds to parts of its output.)
Atomisation also means use of snippets, ringtones, tags, ratings, feeds and abstracts.
To get the attention of groups a site needs to rate, relate, recommend. He thinks people are action-oriented and want to vote and give opinions.
Importance of time-shifting - in a survey at University of Bristol great support for ability to timeshift lectures so could use later.
On the use of space he mentioned a recent Economist article that said there was a "rise in demand for semi-public spaces that can be informally appropriated to ad hoc work spaces" (Take note libraries)
Challenge to libraries is to make themselves invisible, by delivering services into user workflows in a networked environment. Yet we need to be more visible. FBk and Twitter show importance of people to follow.
Libraries and persons working there need to have a signed network presence and not hide people. Libraries dont advertise their expertise enough! Our network presence is too anonymous. Put pics on Twitter, have Top Recommendations as part of a site.

Ken Banks Founder of, UK, "Where Books Are Few: The Role of Mobile Phones in the Developing World"

An inspirational speaker who drew attention to the potential role of mobiles in the 3rd World. Users here need short bursts of actionable information, rather than the Web to browse.

Carie Page Programme Coordinator forthe EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, USA "Anytime, Anywhere: Reaching the Always-On Generation through Mobility"

This was a high energy presentation which I struggled to keep up with. E-mail is for old people apparently(!!) She believed students want to create their own information environments - do we help them or let them get on with it?
Great supporter of Twitter - idea of using timed tweets - same time each week.
Rent out Kindles.
Use vokis on your site - this was a new one for me - which I must follow up.
It is good to help convergence of tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube if we want to keep the attention of our users.
She mentioned some myths
"If you ban our technology, we'll simply stop using it" (they'll get round it)
"If we build it, we will come" (need to bring them in)
"We're a bunch of techno-geeks" (much more mixed)
"We want to be your friend on Facebook" (try and see)

Paul Nelson NHS Choices, Department ofHealth, UK - "Partnerships for Community Health Improvement Through MobileDevices"

NHS Choices has the ability to inform, signpost and empower individually.Most who use it come via Google rather than the front door of the site. It is a strong and trusted brand. Mobile usage is desirable because mobiles are ubiquitous. They want to change behaviour, improve knowledge and self perception.
NHS Choices drnk less is an example of an iPhone app.

Joan Lippincott Associate Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, USA - "Why m-Libraries? Making the Case for Innovation"

To make the case in our libraries we have to make mobiles a higher priority. We have to :

1.Respond to our user community's work style. See mobiles as information devices ; many Univs now on iTunesU ; researchers use mobiles for data collection ; Nielsen shows 52% increase in mobile subscribers using video on a mobile 2008-9 ; ECAR 66% of students have internet capable phones, but most dont use it yet for this.THis will change and depends on the pay structure.

2. Extend what we've always done into new areas for mobiles :
Google Bk Search, OCLC Cat search
Duke University image collection
IL podcasts ; QR codes for IL tutorials ; West Illinois University University Text me services on YouTube.

3. Get a seat at the table re. policy in the University.
In decisions like which platform, who decides, who does technical support, who selects licences.

The m-Libraries Conference site will soon have all the presentations for these and the parallel sessions.

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