Keeping Up: Beyond the Library

There’s a lot of talk about “keeping up” in the profession these days. In addition to traditional journals and low-tech ways of learning like conference and workshop attendance, library blogs are proliferating and online conferences of both the free and pay variety seem to be catching on. With so many options just within the library community, the thought of trying to keep tabs on developments in the wider world is a little daunting.

Nevertheless, it’s vitally important to keep any eye on new trends and technologies outside libraries, to know how our patrons use technology, and to understand the expectations they bring to our physical and virtual spaces.

One way to do this, of course, is to observe them when they walk through the (physical or virtual) door and to ask them directly what they expect and want from library services. But it’s also important to think further ahead and to be aware of what patrons might expect one year, two years, or even–gulp–five years out.

With that in mind, here’s just a handful of places to go for non-library technology news, along with examples of the most recent topics covered by each site:

  • FutureWire: use of gaming to educate people about the crisis in Darfur, cutting edge cell phones with “digital wallet” capabilities, and new light bulb technology
  • Wired News: net neutrality
  • TechCrunch: Google Health debut?, personalized news delivery service (EPIC 2014 anyone?)
  • BoingBoing: Smithsonion/Showtime update and fallout, CBS’s new free, ad-supported internet “channel,” net neutrality, history of Play-Doh
  • Gizmodo: round of new iPod toys (yes, the iPod is a toy, but it needs its own toys too), Intel laptops for kids, professors banning laptops in the classroom

There are many more sites that could be listed here, and I’d love to hear your recommendations.

If the word “daunting” is still running through your mind, consider splitting the workload with colleagues. Agree to follow BoingBoing and forward posts of interest if your friend will do the same with Gizmodo. Start with just one site and follow it for a couple weeks. If it’s manageable, add a second, or switch to another site if you find the first one isn’t worth your while. If you tend to read library blogs, look for one or two that include a lot of references from other industries.

Just be careful that you don’t spend hours of work time reading about Play-Doh!

PS: This blog post was made possible in part by NASIG wireless access. Thank you NASIG for supporting free wireless access for conference attendees!