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Technology Trends: Waxing and Waning

In Iowa I’m giving a talk which feels almost too up-close and personal to me: “perspectives on present and future library trends.” Care to chime in? I’m feeling a little blurry, between packing and trying to finish my slides before I hit the road.

I thought rather than simply labeling something a trend, I’d talk about what’s waxing and what’s waning. There’s a nifty angle to this where I provide “their potential impact on libraries and library services.”

I’m trying to stay big picture… so that when I talk about “potential impact,” I can discuss broader themes.

Here’s what I have so far:


Centralized mass storage (paper and digital)

Ubiquitous computing

Cloud-based applications

User experience (focus on, thereof)

Large-scale cloud catalogs

Open software/standards/access

Social engagement

Service integration (such as discovery layers that tie together different formats; FRBR; federated search)


Paper production (literally)

The locally-installed standalone catalog

Waxing and waning:

Print circulation (depending on the type library)


I think I know where I’m headed with my suggestions… the “experience library,” flexible and user-focused, with loads of examples of what this library looks like/feels like, what we need to be/do to provide these services. Still mulling over the big issues. I have 90 minutes.

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  1. Craig A. Summerhill wrote:

    Karen, I think you can expand your thinking on waning of paper production and print circulation. There is a larger underlying issue which centers on the future of publishing itself. It is seriously crunch time for newspapers now, with many of them planning to move to fee-based web systems in the next year or so. However, I’m not sure the issue stops with serial literature. What effects do print-on-demand publishing and a reduced number of venues for scholarly publishing have on tenure, advancement, etc. What is the role of editor in the blogosphere? The most recent academic institution with which I was affiliated (no names, you know) used to play a good game of lip service to these emerging issues. Supposedly, a faculty member could earn credit toward tenure through the productive output of alternate resources other than print, significant web-site contributions, software development, database management (outside primary job duties). However, in the end… it was simply that — lip service. The lion’s share of consideration was still based on journal article output, and my experience was that online resources were not given the serious consideration they deserve. In short, there is a growing crisis in publication due to the nature and direction of Internet technology. Libraries will (as usual) be reactionary to this trend. IMO, it is too late to get out in front of it.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Mike G. wrote:

    I’ve got a bunch of digital library trends in some slides I whipped up recently:

    Definitely geared towards the digital library side of things, but HTH! It meshes pretty well with your list of waxings.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  3. Craig A. Summerhill wrote:

    A second issue which is clearly waxing is the issue of outsourcing services. I know a few university presidents that would shut down the library in entirety if they could write one check to somebody like Time-Warner for a *comprehensive* information services solution to support teaching. Of course, the demands imposed by research are significantly more intense, and arguably not suitable for complete outsourcing. Nevertheless, many an academic administrator is struggling with issues of competing with U. of Phoenix and similar network based “diploma mills.” See overview and comments in Inside Higher Ed (2009-09-24):

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  4. I would lobby for including creating an organizational “communication policy” to cover library participation in social networking. Since specific technology choices will change, it should be written generally. See my post and the comments, on Twitter policies:

    Have fun with it, too! (As you usually do.)

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  5. Mike, thank you so much! The DL side of things is a good one to bring in. Excellent set of slides.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  6. Michael G., that’s the sort of idea I was struggling toward. Terrifically useful. I would also think training and enabling are key to social networking as well.

    This also raises the trend of blurred public/private personae.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink
  7. Add on the waxing list: Digital Rights Management. We’re just seeing the battlegrounds marked out.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  8. Anne wrote:

    By 2020, mobile devices are expected to be the way the web is accessed. Great presentation:

    Social Media Revolution

    I also recommend frequent monitoring of It’s good for marketing but also gives you a feel for what consumers are looking for

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  9. Anne wrote:

    Oops! This is the video I meant.

    This is cretaceously full of awesome.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  10. Great video! I vaguely remember checkin’ it out back then. It makes some good points about mobility, ubicomp, and becoming more “international.” I do take issue with the “broadband penetration” stats, only because broadband in the U.S. is a lot more challenging than broadband elsewhere (though we did lose a lot of ground in the Previous Administration).

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

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