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Librarian Relief Fund From VLA

Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region on Flickr

The Vermont Library Association is launching the Librarian Relief Fund to assist librarians who suffered personal property damages as a result of Hurricane Irene. You’ve likely seen the devastation on the news. What you don’t always see though is the extremely long, labor intensive process of cleaning up after something like this. It’ll take people in these communities a long time to get “back to normal.”

A lot of folks did not have flood insurance, and people are going to need support above what federal and state agencies can offer. If you feel inclined to help a librarian in need, please consider making a donation or sharing this post. You can donate online here, or you can mail a contribution to:

Vermont Library Association | Attn: Librarian Relief Fund | P.O. Box 803 | Burlington, VT 05402

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Technology and Public Services Librarian

champlain college under snow

view from the library balcony

We have a new position opening at our library! We have a great team already, but we need someone else to help with our teaching and technology related projects. If that sounds like you or someone you know, you can find out more and apply here.

Burlington is a really awesome city and Champlain is a great place to work. The two words I would use to describe Champlain are community and innovation. We are a fast moving institution and if you have an idea, you are able to run with it. And ideas can come from anyone, not just senior administrators or people who have been here for a while. There is a mutual respect and a lot of collegiality among both faculty and staff.

And to top it all off, our library has one of the best views in the city of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

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What are Emerging Technologies?

I attended an Emerging Technologies interest group yesterday co-facilitated by my new friend Bohyun Kim. It gave people a chance to talk about things that they had been using or implementing such as open source solutions, ebook readers, Google Wave, and mobile technologies. But what interested me more were some of the bigger questions the interest group was asking, such as “what do we mean when we say ‘emerging technologies,’” and “what is the role of an Emerging Technologies librarian?”

Since “Emerging Technologies librarian” is my job title, I of course have an opinion about such things. To me the phrase “emerging technologies,” in the context of libraries does not necessarily refer to the very bleeding edge stuff. Examples of bleeding edge include things like augmented reality, location based services, or other technologies mentioned in the Horizon Report. It can also refer to things that have been around for a while, but are used in new and creative ways in libraries. An example of this is IM reference. IM was around for a while before libraries started using it to help their patrons. Emerging technologies in the context of libraries, can be any tool that is being used in a novel way to serve your users.

This brings me to the role of an Emerging Technologies librarian (ETL). First, it is simply a title. Many librarians are doing amazing things with technology, but you’d have no idea from their title. The words are not that important. But the actual role of an ETL involves innovation and service. An ETL stays abreast of trends in technology and implements new and existing tools in order to better serve their patrons.

The most important thing for ETLs or anyone to keep in mind when implementing technology are the users, who they are, and what their needs are. Bleeding edge stuff might not work for your users because they are still getting used to the “old” stuff. Mobile apps might be really cool and useful, but how many of your patrons actually own smart phones to run them? Maybe a lot…maybe not. Twitter was really hot last year, but if your patrons aren’t on it (ours are) what is the point? It’s good to come up with inventive ways to use technology to promote the library and deliver library services, but you also can’t force things. ETL’s and anyone interested in emerging technologies should be thoughtful in their implementation of technology, while constantly asking, “how does this benefit the library and our patrons?”

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation or present your thoughts at ALA Annual in DC.