As always, the American Library Association’s 2016 annual convention included many announcements and product launches from library vendors. Here’s a roundup of some of the news from this year’s show floor.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) on July 12 announced the launch of SimplyE, a new app for tablets and smartphones that employs a single interface for browsing, borrowing, and reading ebooks from multiple different vendors, as well as public domain ebooks. Enabling patrons to discover and start reading library ebooks with as few as three clicks, this initial version of the app is the fulfillment of a goal set two and a half years ago by the NYPL-led Library Simplified project.
Recently, I was teaching a privacy class for librarians, and the topic turned to the privacy versus convenience trade-off—the occasional annoyances of using privacy-enhancing technologies online. An audience member laid out what she felt I was asking of the group. “You’re telling us to start selling granola when everyone else is running a candy store.”
The discussion at this year’s Library Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Technology Trends panel at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Orlando, FL spanned topics ranging from online privacy to “superfast application development” on the near horizon. LITA revamped the session format this year to be more interactive: rather than offering individual trend presentations each panelist quickly summarized one trend they’ve been following, and then participated in discussions sparked by questions from moderator Maurice Coleman, technical trainer, Harford County Public Library, MD, and host of the long-running “T is for Training” podcast, with debates emerging on how long libraries should support old devices, and which tech trends may be overhyped within the library field.
At North Carolina State University Libraries, under the stewardship of LJ Mover & Shaker Jason Evans Groth, the belief is that harnessing the power of imagery and sound to build on research is important. “A well-organized non-written piece of communication about research in which we’re invested hasn’t lost any value,” says Groth, User Experience Librarian for Digital Media. “If anything, it’s more valuable — and research is just one person’s daydream unless it’s accessible.” If you detect a hint of the artist in Groth’s characterization about research, there’s good reason.
A key point that led off—and was reiterated several times throughout—“Strategies and Partnerships: Tailoring Data Services for Your Institutional Needs,” the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) President’s Program at the recent American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL, was the importance of establishing a common understanding of what exactly “data services” means. The term is a catch-all for a diverse set of activities; using it without defining its scope can become problematic for everyone involved.
In a June 25 session at the ALA Annual conference in Orlando, John Bracken, VP of media innovation for the Knight Foundation, said that the foundation has been focused on three key questions when working with libraries: What can be done to foster cross-discipline collaboration, possibly learning from projects in other civic sectors such as Code for America, 18F, or the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews collaboration; how can community be put “even more robustly” at the center of the foundation’s work; and how can the foundation help libraries tell their stories to wider audiences? “To succeed, particularly in a time of reduced public investment, it is vital to tell our stories in ways that people can understand the breadth of our work, and on platforms” where the public is present and listening, Bracken said.
ProQuest subsidiary R.R. Bowker today announced the acquisition of Alexander Street, a leading provider of streaming video and music, as well as primary source collections, to almost 4,000 library customers in over 60 countries. The business will be known as “Alexander Street, a ProQuest Company,” and will continue to be led by Stephen Rhind-Tutt, its current president, and its current management team, including Eileen Lawrence, David Parker and Andrea Eastman-Mullins, from its current headquarters in Alexandria, VA.