Archive for the ‘Content creation by libraries’ Category

Libraries of many kinds have for years been collecting, preserving and in turn offering, in digital form, content provided by people and organizations with whom they have a connection.  This post features two libraries that are connecting with local musicians to record their work which can then be streamed from the libraries’ websites.  Both the Santa Cruz Public Library and the Iowa City Public Library  have launched online streaming that enables their card holders to access the work of local musicians, free of charge.

Santa Cruz’s collection is called SoundSwell, which as a name is a great combination of concepts!  Iowa City’s Local Music Project may not have the same catchy name as Santa Cruz, but the initiative is equally “sound”.  (OK, enough with the puns!)

Projects such as these are excellent examples of how libraries have a valuable role to play in community development in the digital age.  By collecting, curating and offering access to locally relevant content (all very traditional activities for libraries), using accessible digital tools, these and other libraries are supporting artistic, cultural and economic activity right where they live.  Congratulations!

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Photo credit: bridgeandtunnelclub.com

The Seattle Public Library is running an online voters guide and checking facts on a range of issues in the Washington State and Federal elections.  Hurray for them.  Their site is called the Living Voters Guide.  It covers some hot-button issues including same gender marriage, legalization of marijuana and charter schools.

A recent blog on the Seattle Times website had a headline calling this a risky experiment, but valuable  and describes how it works and some of the issues that have arisen for the librarians supporting this resource.  I disagree with the headline and the characterization of this as being risky.  This is exactly what our profession should be doing, particularly because we can assess, evaluate and curate information sources so well.


BTW, as you can see I have taken an extended break from blogging here.  I’m now focusing on getting back into it on a more regular basis.

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A few years ago when I gave a presentation on the future of libraries I used a prediction offered by Professor Joseph Janes from the University of Washington’s iSchool, that a library is essentially made up of five basic categories:

  1. Stuff
  2. Help
  3. Place
  4. Values
  5. Interaction

After my presentation the participants broke into small groups and discussed what might change for each category as well as what might stay the same and what factors will likely influence what libraries will be doing in the future.

Recently there have been some news stories that focus on public libraries that are offering high-tech “hackerspaces” or tech shops as part of what their services.  The Fayetteville Free Library in New York State is developing a “Fab Lab”, a free high-tech space that allows users access to machines and software in order to design and fabricate things.  What things, you might ask?  So far except for 3D printing the predictions are a little vague.  The products will be most likely be moulded out of plastic (although the high-tech fabrication machines also work with wood and other materials), they will be three dimensional, and they are meant to be functional; lots of opportunity for the DIY set, in other words.

The Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana has another example they are calling the TekVenture Maker Station.  TekVenture is a non-profit organization with a tag line that speaks to interconnecting imagination, technology and community.  It and the library are partners in this small but ambitious endeavour.

TekVenture Maker Station (photo credit: TekVenture.org)

It’s much too early to know whether these efforts will be adopted more broadly and become more mainstream.  But they do speak to all five of the library categories offered by Prof. Janes.  In this case the users create the stuff with the help of the library that provides a place for learning through interaction or collaboration with partners so that creators can interact with others in their own learning.  As for values, Allen County Public Library’s director, Jeff Krull says that libraries are “in the learning business and the exploration business and the expand-your-mind business”, and so he says, the Maker Station fits with the library’s mission.

If you want to hear the radio coverage of these efforts that was aired by CBC’s Spark program here is the link to the podcast of the episode (#166).  Scroll down to the audio portion called “Hacking the Library”.

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Photo Credit: San Jose Public Library

The San José Public Library launched an augmented reality site recently and announced it on its blog on September 10th in a very down to earth post  Augmented reality layers information on top of a view of the real world, typically on a mobile device.  In this case historical photos and documents from the library’s local history collection have been chosen to augment three different walking tours near the city’s downtown.  The website for this augmentation has been branded as Scan José, which is cute and memorable.

This site also enables one to view the images in 3D by downloading the appropriate application from iTunes or the Android Marketplace.  Very cool!

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