I love this theme that
we called Redefining the Library Experience. It gave all you
readers out there a chance to tell us your stories about how
technology is changing libraries. In some cases, the stories
were about how librarians are changing technology. It's a shame
we only got to choose five to publish.
There's one story that
most of you can probably relate to. On page 22 you'll start
reading about how the S.A.I.L.S. Library Network chose a new
OPAC that gave its patrons a much richer library experience.
The iBistro system it chose includes book jackets and those
sorts of "bookstore" things that patrons have started clamoring
for. This is one fundamental way to redefine the library experience.
As an example of technology
changing libraries, check out the article on "Planet PDA" (page
32). How are life and work flow altered by introducing an "alien"
technology? Personal Digital Assistants aren't just toys for
teens anymore.If you think they have no place in libraries,
you'd better beam aboard and see what all the fuss is about!
Then we have an example
of librarians changing technology with something called MusiCat.
One longtime librarian in Denmark was tired of people searching
without much success. So he started with one section of the
library's holdings (the traditionally hard-to-search collection
of musical scores and recordings) and rebuilt it to allow natural-language
thought. Now patrons don't have to understand music cataloging;
they can just click on a topic (like folk music) and then, from
resulting menus, choose a country, a style, a particular dance,
etc. The author found that intuitive searching yields much better
hits, and the users love it (page 26). Innovation can pay off!
Now, for the product
that everyone thoughtwould revolutionize libraries: e-books.
What's out there today? How do they work? How can you choose
between them? Take a safely guided tour through E-Book Land
(page 14) to help decide whether you should consider adding
these to your collections.
Finally, check out
a technology that promises to redefine the library like few
others have: artificial intelligence. Roy Balleste, who was
starting to implementAIin his own law library as he wrote this
article, has put together a great primer to introduce librarians
to the concept. In a simple, unintimidating way, he tells you
just what artificial intelligence is, what it does, and how
it can improve library service. Then he lists many vendors,
explains each product, and gives you examples ofWeb sites where
AI already operates. From the comfort of your own desk you can
check out these beings; chat and interact with them. Then start
dreaming of all the patron questions they could field for you!
In our industry, as
in others today, the status quo just won't do anymore. We have
to keep thinking of ways to be better, more interesting, more
useful, and more attractive to users and potential users. I
hope this issue sparks your imagination!
Kathy Dempsey, Editor