I just finished watching most of a talk called Access Schmaccess: Libraries in the Age of Information Ubiquity. Now before you non-librarians stop reading, this was mostly not about libraries. For almost the first hour, Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor (MI) District Library’s Associate Director of IT and Production, talks about the internet, and how it has changed and is changing our culture.
He’s a very engaging speaker – I admit that I didn’t expect to make it through more than 5 or 10 minutes, and I wound up watching nearly the entire thing – 90 minutes – all but what I assume is the Q&A at the end. He talks about memes and torrenting and kickstarter all kinds of interesting and relevant stuff. Basically he’s pointing out all the ways that our culture has shifted, building a foundation so that you can see a way forward for libraries. It’s a reminder that the types of information people want is changing forms – people still want to learn things, but increasingly the information they want is not necessarily contained in a book, or easily learned from one. I’m not doing a good job of putting my finger on this, but I think what he did is take a giant step backward from where a lot of articles about makerspaces in libraries start and explaining the “why?” of this shift, rather than just saying “people want to make stuff! 21st century skills!” etc etc.
Anyway, he doesn’t really talk about libraries until about 0:50, and even so the next 20 minutes are still pretty general. It’s not until about 1:07 that he gets into really library-specific stuff, but he’s talking about very interesting things. His library’s summer reading game is now online and has quests and badges. They circulate synthesizers and other crazy instruments, in a semi-secret way. It was a great talk, and I encourage you to watch it. He gave a shortened version of this talk at the Maryland Library Association’s conference recently, and I really wish I’d been there to see it.