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The Wired Library › Page 2

Public Libraries Magazine Column March/April 2015

The Wired Library – Exercises in Empathy

The web always has its eye on the future, but online culture is not immune to nostalgia. The last few months have seen several attempts to revive a fascination for the dial-up age. A pair of French artists launched windows93.net, a tongue-in-cheek homage to early browsers filtered through a seriously absurdist sense of humor. Writer Paul Ford launched tilde.club, an ASCII-laden throwback to spalces like GeoCities and the communal webring culture that eventually became the blogging world we know today. Sprinkle in a generous dose of animated GIFs, and it’s like we’re on AOL all over again.

PL Magazine Column

A Guide to Wiping the Egg Off Your Face

Customer service is an ongoing balance between quantitative and qualitative elements. On one hand, our profession’s “killer app” is its ability to identify an individual’s needs through a combination of probing questions and intuition, done with courtesy and without judgment. On the other hand, the steady flow of patrons and the need to keep statistics counts up means that many aspects of the user interaction have to stay uniform. It’s this balance between uniformity and personalization that makes every act of customer service something new. Throughout the days, weeks, and years of a library’s life, each of these transactions start to run together.

pl cover nov dec 2014

Looking at the Future of Libraries

“A library is a collection of possible futures.”—John Barth, Browsing1

The future of libraries is a lot like my office clock. It has your standard 1-12 numbering around the outside edge of the device, along with an inner ring that marks off the minutes in five-minute increments. Each hand ends in a circle, and you can read the clock by checking to see which numbers are inside each circle. In order to do so, you’ve got to realize that the hour hand is the bigger of the two—countering more than 1,000 years of conditioning telling us which clock hand is which

Creating Community through Community

The changing nature of libraries stresses a shift to deliberate action on the part of the library, and the sense of “turning outward” espoused by the American Library Association’s (ALA) “Libraries Transforming Communities” advocacy campaign. Documenting these connections serves to recast the library experience in a new light.

Revisiting Open Data Practices

If you had the word “iterate” on your PLA conference bingo card, this was your year. Concepts such as rapid prototyping, failing quickly, and agile development made their way into many of the program presentations, and all the featured speakers addressed issues related to embracing constant change. With that in mind, I’d like to take a second pass at a topic I covered in this column a year ago: how can libraries make better sense of the opportunities afforded by the open data movement?

It’s All Around You: Creating a Culture of Innovation

Innovation, you say? Ha, I respond. Being an innovator is easy. All you need is a brilliant idea that no one has ever come up with before. It also helps if you have the resources and team to make the idea a reality. And you should probably also have the ability to knock out these […]

Rules for Reflectors

It happened again, librarians. We’re at the end of another year, and hopefully all of you are making strides toward 2014 with a certain amount of confidence. I hope this finds you with an eagerness to start things anew—be it a calendar or fiscal year. But before you turn the page on 2013, take some […]

Of Tinkers and Technology: Creative Digital Programming for Youth

This is probably going to surprise no one: my wife and I, and our son, live in a highly connected household. The three of us work and play online, jumping seamlessly from computer to tablet to phone to television. Whether we’re planning, budgeting, socializing, or entertaining, using technology to enhance my family’s life has become an expectation, not a novelty.

Every Day I’m Tumbling

Like Pinterest, Tumblr allows users to collect interesting things they find (or create) online and share them with people in their network. But where Pinterest allows users to gather what they find into curated collections, Tumblr is more focused on pushing material out on the web and watching other folks consume it. If Pinterest is a cabinet of wonders, Tumblr is more like an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant where delicacies come to you via conveyor belt.

In Search of Better Metrics

This may not be the column you’re looking for. One of the great advantages this platform has given me is the opportunity to sound like I know what I’m talking about. Working with new discoveries gives you the opportunity to proclaim yourself the first “expert” in any discipline. While it’s always been my goal to […]

E-Books, E-Book Readers, and Next Steps

Here’s a scenario that recently occurred at Topeka and Shawnee County (Kans.) Public Library (TSCPL). Topeka is currently participating in the Big Read, a grant-funded, community-wide reading program. TSCPL picked The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett as its Big Read book. It is available in paperback and an audiobook version from Overdrive. One of TSCPL’s […]

Premium Web Tools for Public Libraries

We’ve actually had this column idea kicking around for quite a while, and we are pretty excited to finally talk about it. The idea came during a phone call where we were talking about the combination of value and efficiency that libraries have. We were trying to list as many ways as we could think […]

Stuff We’ve Spotted Lately

Michael: “Hey David, how about for this column we jump all over the place and hit a string of ideas?” David: “What? I wasn’t paying attention. I was jumping between browser tabs and IM on my laptop.” Michael: “Perfect! That’s what we’ll make this column like.” David: “Huh? Ok.” Netflix Did you see that Netflix […]

Power to the People

This issue’s Internet Spotlight column is taking shape at 38,000 feet, somewhere over the middle of the United States. Flying back from the 2010 Computers in Libraries Conference, both our heads are full of fresh ideas, things to research, opinions to think about, questions that need to be answered, new friends and colleagues, and … […]

Foursquare for Libraries

In this Internet Spotlight column, let’s play a game. But not just any game. What if we make it a game that’s played completely online, that you can play with friends, and gives rewards for doing well? While we’re at it, let’s make it location-based (more on that in a second). Anyone know what game […]