Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Case Study No. 0530: Jenny Levine

Conversation with Jenny Levine
Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist & Strategy Guide in the ITTS department at the American Library Association, sits down for a candid and informative interview in this next installment of our Conversation series.
Tags: acpl conversation series Jenny Levine
Added: 2 years ago
From: askacpl
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[scene opens with Jenny speaking directly to the camera]
JENNY: Well, I think we're pretty good at handling transitions after the last fifty years, so we have such great content. We have such great experts. We have a built-in audience that we can grow and help them connect around all that content.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: So much of the library is just mysterious, and we know it well, and so we think everybody knows it well, and that gets back to the jargon and the advanced search instead of the single search box, things like that. So yeah, I think the director should be blogging and talking about the budget and services and staff, things like that. All the way down to the, uh, I don't think there's anything wrong with pages saying "Oh yeah, I found this really great book that was hidden away". Just making the library more human and giving it some voice and some personality online.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: No one department can keep doing this alone, and everybody is so reliant on IT. I mean, when the IT isn't working or goes down, everybody has a problem. And so, you really, you gotta start working together to figure out how to implement these bigger projects, because there's almost nothing anymore that is really just one department, and especially online you need a group effort. And so, it's a tough thing and it's even tougher to start thinking that group effort includes the patrons.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: Yeah well, we're at the end of physical formats. Uh, LPs, cassettes, 8 tracks, CDs, DVDs, laser discs and you know, it's all gonna go digital now, it's all gonna be in the cloud. And so, to me, it's the access to that, and how you find new things, how you have your trusted network, how you can mix and mash that up. That's where it's gonna get interesting with audio and video.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: There are still libraries that have cassettes and LPs and that's okay. I think it depends on your community, because some are gonna move much faster on this than others. I think the place where we're falling down is that we're not collectively using our potential power to affect how users are gonna be able to access this stuff. Y'know, copyright is a huge concern for me. Digital rights management, huge concern. The way these are gonna be used to lock libraries - and, as a result, users - out of accessing specific content without a credit card? That is gonna be a real problem.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: I think that, as a profession, we're doing pretty well at learning the new tools and experimenting to see what they can do, because librarianship is gonna be changing a lot. I mean, not that it hasn't been, but that pace of acceleration that we all feel is not going to go away. It's only going to be constant, if not increasing, and so we have to learn how to work together to manage that and implement new services that libraries are well positioned to implement.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: Eh, as a librarian, you cannot sit behind the desk waiting for people to walk up and ask you a question anymore. That's just not gonna happen. You have to be out in the stacks, you have to be out in the community, you have to be out there online, providing services where the users are, being where it's convenient for them. And if you sit behind that desk, then you're gonna wither there, because that's not how the world works anymore.
[cut to another shot of Jenny]
JENNY: I think the biggest thing stopping libraries is our own mental limitation. We have the weight of three thousand years of library history, and even with the "Foundations of Librarianship" class, I really think of libraries as being the last fifty years or even hundred. I totally forget that we had all of these other roles and that we have all this baggage from those other roles. And so, I've started, when somebody says to me "Why can't the library be like it used to be?" I'm like, "Okay, well, are you talking about 3000 BC when you had no access? Are you talking about Greece, the Golden Age when only a certain level of person had access?" Because, y'know, in the 1800s children weren't allowed in libraries, fiction wasn't allowed in libraries. So, how far back are you saying you wanna go? And, y'know, even in the sixties, seventies and eighties, libraries weren't quiet and they were getting louder. It's a really great thing to reflect on, and I think we've lost a little bit of that, and I know I had. And so, it's really great to see you had a loud library
[she laughs]
JENNY: And it was okay, and we adapted. All seven stages, we've adapted through each one, and we'll be okay in this one too.

Jenny Levine
Internet Development Specialist
& Strategy Guide in the ITTS
department at the
American Library Association

Production facilities provided by Access Fort Wayne,
a department of the Allen County Public Library


From theshiftedlibrarian.com:

My name is Jenny, and I'll be your information maven today!

So I call myself "The Shifted Librarian," but what does that mean? I took the name from a presentation that I do called "Information Shifting" about how the change from pursuing information to receiving information is and will be affecting libraries.

So back to the definition of information shifting. It comes from a New York Times article that discussed the history of consumer fair use and the entertainment industry's efforts to regulate use of VCRs and MP3 players. It referred to the 1984 Supreme Court decision in favor of VCRs in which the judges declared that these devices were okay because consumers were using them to "time shift." In other words, to record shows to watch them at their convenience.

Next up was a case in 1999 over the Diamond Rio MP3 player. Industry folk argued that consumers were illegally transporting digital files on it, but the judges decided that consumers were simply "space shifting," which meant they were just taking music they already owned and listening to it somewhere else. That's a very brief summary of the court cases, but what the article pointed out was that information in general was being shifted now that it was digital.

Take that to its logical conclusion, and you realize that people aren't going out to get information anymore. Instead, it's coming to them. Think about that for a second and you'll recognize the truth in it. After all, don't you feel information overload in your own life? That's because information is coming to you from everywhere now. Most of it may be noise, but focused information can come to you in new and more efficient ways than ever before.

If you read through my presentation, you'll see that I concentrate on how this trend will affect libraries in the future, mainly through its impact on the Net generation. Did you know that there are more NetGens than there are Baby Boomers? And you know what kind of an impact those folks had on our culture! If you're around kids at all today, you can see how differently they think and act about information and technology. I live with a six-year old and a seven-year old, and periodically I'll relate stories proving this point.

To my mind, the biggest difference is that they expect information to come to them, whether it's via the Web, email, cell phone, online chat, whatever. And given the tip of the iceberg of technology we're seeing, it's going to have a big impact on how they expect to receive library services, which means librarians have to start adjusting now. I call that adjustment "shifting" because I think you have to start meeting these kids' information needs in their world, not yours. The library has to become more portable or "shifted."

Therefore, a "shifted librarian" is someone who is working to make libraries more portable. We're experimenting with new methods, even if we find out they don't work as well as we thought they would. Sometimes, we're waiting for our colleagues, our bosses, and even the kids to catch up, but we're still out there trying. And please don't think I don't love books and print, because I do. No amount of technology will ever replace them, and libraries will always be a haven for books. It's the extras that I'm concentrating on, especially as we try to serve our remote patrons.

So welcome to the online life of a shifted librarian. I'm glad you're coming along for the ride, because it's going to be fun. I promise.

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