Article Written By: Chris Kretz, Dowling College Library, LILRC Annual Conference Committee Chair
While Hurricane Sandy waited in the wings, the 21st Annual Conference on Libraries and the Future took place at Dowling College in Oakdale on Friday, October 25, 2012. Appropriately enough, the conference focused on The Cloud in the Forecast: Access and Ownership and while the speakers focused on ways cloud computing is transforming many traditional institutions, the outlook for libraries continued to be optimistic.
The traditional conference dinner on Thursday night featured Evan St. Lifer, Vice President and General Manager at Scholastic Library Publishing. Evan got everyone thinking with his talk, Top 5 Unavoidable, Inescapable, Yet Extraordinarily Promising Trends Facing Libraries. One connection he made repeatedly that we don’t often touch on in our conferences is the library’s connection to schools. The after dinner questioning led to a discussion of the Common Core State Standards and the opportunities they present for school/public/academic library collaboration. Foreshadowing more of Friday’s talks, Evan also highlighted the rise of mobile apps and the implications of tablets for consumption and production of text.
With the sun still shining on Friday, the conference started off with Brian O’Leary, Founder and Principal of Magellan Media, with his talk The Opportunity in Abundance. Building off ideas he has presented at the Internet Archives Books in Browsers conference and elsewhere, Brian discussed how publishing and the complex ecosystem at the center of which it sits might evolve. While grounded in the world of publishing, his talk did raise a host of interesting ideas about how reading and content is changing. In an increasingly complex system, he suggests, many stakeholders—including libraries—will need to be involved in coming up with workable solutions.
Joe Karaganis, Vice President of The American Assembly at Columbia University, presented, The Pirate Archive: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control. While discussing data derived from research reports published by the American Assembly, Joe detailed in part how people’s use of media has changed and the general anticipation for access to everything. While he walked us through many of the reasons for and ways to effectively alleviate piracy, perhaps the most important part of the talk came near the end when he presented what he termed the existential question for libraries: can a digital lending model for libraries be achieved? Luckily, if the answer is ultimately no, Joe also suggested ways that libraries can use technology and their standing in communities to take on new roles.
LILRC Assistant Director Min Liu (pictured below) brought theory into practice with her talk LILRC in the Cloud: Maximizing the Use of Cloud Computing. She articulated all of the ways that LILRC is leveraging cloud computing, from software such as GoToMeeting to shared platforms such as LILRC’s Long Island Librarians’ Knowledge Base on LibGuides.
Rounding out the day, Matt Goldner, OCLC Product and Technology Advocate, presented The Future of Libraries in the Information Environment. After presenting a look at how other businesses have adapted to changing user expectations, he offered an interesting SWOT analysis for libraries that nicely covered where we’ve been and where we need to go. The challenge, in part, is not only to “do things differently” but to “do different things.”