LibTechConf 2014 Opening Keynote: The Origin of the Future is in the Present

Mita has told me that she will be posting her talk with her slides, so be sure to check that out too.

Presented by Mita Williams

Origin Story

Origin stories hold an important part of our history. Every start-up has an origin story, e.g. Twitter, Facebook

There is not one path to success or lifetime pursuit.

Everyone has a library origin story.

Beverly Cleary official biography. The library was an oasis, and as abundance.

Libraries are not just a place for those who have an appetite for reading, but a place of rest.

What will the academic or public library of the future look like?

Normally tell 5 stories . Our buildings were collections but now collection of people. Artists and creative people are the people who are key to help creating what we need.

Today’s stories.

1000 True Fans

While many authors are outspoken about libraries, many guilds and other groups representing authors, this is not the same.

Physical stores can only store popular. Long tail good for aggrevators of culture (e.g. iTunes, amazon), and consumers (who have more choices).

Mixed blessing for creators. The solution is to find “1,000 True Fans” willing to support at $100/year.

Sales and funding can be from public, merchandise, ads. Some success stories include xkcd, crowdfunded journal and programming.

John Green, artist who knows how to use the Internet as a platform to succeed and finds funding through side projects e.g. t-shirt store, record label.

Not enough to provide access to books. Need to help maintain reading and writing culture, integrate the interactive culture. Why are we not hosting conferences for our community?

Making a Mesh of Things

Need permission to do anything, e.g. ask IT for access to server

With a server, you can be on the web, with the web.

We don’t provide students with the knowledge needed to create their own place on the web.

One click server install, make it so easy, anyone can do it. Reduce the barrier of learning software.

Community driven local knowledge. Extension of newspaper clipping service that librarians used to serve. Works well side by side with things like WIkipedia (which will delete articles that aren’t notable enough).

Cloud-served library platform may be in the near future e.g. DPLA

The library used to be the central place for knowledge, but if we can accept the change to the dynamic where we are only a node, we can move forward.

There are services we can provide useful and necessary services. We can become the central node to our community.

Reveal Coders

You can do pretty amazing things even if you can read code. Programmers rarely ever code anything from scratch.

Programming library is what they use. Many more of our students and faculty are increasingly being used by modules and programming libraries.

The more data is involved, the more likely to use add-ons, because consumer level graphical interface (e.g. excel) just aren’t powerful enough.

Explorable explanations – text is not for consuming but an environment to think in.

When we make learning visible, we make learning possible.

Such visibility is necessary and useful, because not enough to explain methodology, but to make it replicable.

iPython notebooks blur the line between coders and consumers. Not necessarily the future, but what systems can look like.

A Book is for Re-use

Even in the future, same with libraries. For what use?

Provide access to knowledge with reference services, but a lot more goes on in the libraries. In the future, those other projects will hopefully emerge in view.

Mission is the bring people together by connecting small bits of personal history to a larger shared history.

How can libraries bring forth its ability to reuse? Some good examples can be found in artist libraries. e.g. reanimation library The goal is not to be comprehensive, but the visit will reanimate public interest in the work.

We hold the raw materials for inspiration and appropriation. We can organize our space and collections to highlight these connections.


What do we hope our community will make in our makerspace? What will they learn?

Exceptional spaces of makerspaces, but 3D printers being treated like 2D printers. Missing a huge opportunity.

The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities. – David Lankes

We do it by writing it down. Documentation even more important now.

Make every space a library and every library a maker space.


How we can move forward is within ourselves. All we need to do is write these ideas down and share these stories with each other. Listen and learn together.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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