Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:
We are not quite to the end of the year, but now is still a good time to take a look forward to 2009. We know it will be a year of change because we will have a new President, Barack Obama. We will see big changes in the economy, we hope for the better, as ambitious plans are being laid to start the recovery effort.
Likewise, we will see changes at the Shaker Heights Public Library with a new Deputy Director, Amy Switzer, starting in January; with architectural work slated to begin; and with a variety of construction and service redesign projects that will get underway. Part of our effort next year will involve improved use of technology. But where do we go with technology? What are the experts saying?
The Gartner group has come up with what it calls the Top 10 strategic technologies for 2009, mostly geared for IT people, but let’s take a look at them and see how they might apply to public libraries:
1) Virtualization—getting closer to “paperless” by eliminating the need for “duplicate copies of data on real storage devices.”
2) Cloud computing—accessing services from the Internet, e.g. Google Apps, which supplies free word processing and other common types of software.
3) Sophisticated servers—tracking memory/processing needs that can be replaced piecemeal, rather than to be completely upgraded.
4) Web-oriented architectures—taking advantage of the possibilities of the Internet, along the lines of cloud computing.
5) Enterprise mash-ups—combining web services in innovative ways, such as “mash-up” of data and maps.
6) Specialized systems—developing heterogeneous systems to cope with demanding workloads, rather than a single dedicated system.
7) Social software/social networking—forcing organizations to consider adding social aspects to their websites, sooner rather than later.
8) Unified communications—using “off the shelf” server and operating systems precipitated by consolidations in the communications industry
9) Business intelligence—increasing productivity using new tools that are especially valuable during a credit crunch.
10) Green IT—shifting to more energy efficient and environmentally friendly products and processes.
We have taken a few steps toward these new strategies—with our improved bandwidth, the addition of virtual gaming systems, and access to a few social systems (like the “Know It Now” online service)—but we need to go much further. More and more, Internet users want interaction, not just reaction. They want to be able to customize, tag, and organize. They want access from their cell phones or other handheld devices. With everything else going on in 2009, we will have our hands full with technology!
Also coming up next year: 1) we are working on a variety of projects to mark the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth; 2) our MyCom planning for youth initiatives will move forward; 3) we hope to develop a “Communities in Conversation” Chautauqua-like forum with a group of active citizens; 4) we will be working on a grant with the City of Shaker Heights to fund a Community Entrepreneurial Center at the library; and 5) we will be hosting another year of thematically-based programs.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director