Monday, October 19, 2009

Shift Again! Libraries in the Near Future - IV

Let's take a brief and over-simplified look at technology progress in the past 35 years or so.

In the beginning was the Card Catalog. And it was good. And then that day passed.

Then there was the text-based Catalog. And it was tough going but then it was good. And then that day passed.

Next there were CD-based indexes. And there was a learning curve and there was much annoyance with technology. And, for a brief moment, it was good. And then that hour passed

Soon, the GUI interface arrived and libraries adapted quickly, despite a high learning curve and sheer terror on the part of libraries. And it was good. And it slowly improved.

Then became WWW access to indexes and subscription databases. And there was much excitement and a learning curve for both vendors and libraries and customers. And, while many customers still struggle, it is pretty good. And access is improving.

Soon there was remote access to subscription databases. And there were connectivity problems and there was exitement throughout the land. And while there will always be connectivity issues here and there. It is good.

Ten minutes later, libraries began to send newsletters and other information via snail-mail and email. There also began phone notifications and renewals. And it is good and rejoicing was heard throughout the land by both customers and staff. And it is good

Five minutes later, libraries began responding to email queries from customers. And methods evolved. And some libraries had the ability to have a librarian on hand to answer queries immediately. And it continues to morph. And it is very good, indeed.

In the blink of an eye, libraries created newsfeeds using rss. Newsfeeds that featured library blogs, alerts when a new book came in from a selected newsfeed, and other things. And it remains good.

Seconds later, the web changed and social media became a customer need. And libraries created MySpace and Facebook interfaces to promote library services. And it is good.

Simultaneously, library services that were previously in-house only became available via homepages. Account access, online registration and fine payment, reserves, and other services. And it is good.

Then, embracing social media, libraries added twitter alerts for events and other promotions. And it is good.

And now, no resting. Targeting the current dominant thought in social media and pushing out services that enrich that conversation are developing. And that will be interesting, indeed.

And tools exist for determining that current dominant thought, even locally:

Twitter Search

And many more.

See the October Trendwatching for more ways to target current dominant thoughts

And still, in-person services and library physical locations and other traditional library services remain valued. And That is Very, Very, Very good.

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