What’s Happening at the CLA?

The Canadian Libraries Association annual conference is being held in Winnipeg this week. Red River College is well represented as several staff members are attending, taking advantage of the proximity of this years conference.

The annual CLA conference draws participants from public, college and university, special and school libraries, as well as commercial participants. It is an important and well attended conference.

So, what was discussed?

A DRM “Brave New World”

Cory Doctorow - Opening keynote speaker CLA 2013 Winnipeg

Cory Doctorow – Opening keynote speaker CLA 2013 Winnipeg

On Thursday 30 May 13, the keynote speaker was the well-known science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist Cory Doctorow.

As well as being the the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing (boingboing.net) he is also a regular contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly and Wired. He is an activist in favour of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization. In fact, he publishes much of his work under a creative-commons licence.

In his keynote address Doctorow spoke about DRM and how it is affecting our privacy and freedoms. For example, he described how DRM software can be used to take over our computers with hidden files and even introduce spyware.

One of his messages to the Librarians in the room was to avoid purchasing materials with DRM, and essentially join him in his advocacy against DRM.

At one point he made reference to the monetizing of smart phone tracking data, something government agencies usually regard as a harmless act, downplaying the tracking data as benign information. Doctorow’s opinion, in contrast, “there is a very fine and philosophical line between data and metadata.”

Doctorow spoke of the fact that our society should be moving towards greater transparency and digital freedom. However, as Doctorow pointed out, we actually seem to be moving closer to a darker age where governments and corporations can reduce our privacy at will, even going as far as turning on our digital cameras for the purpose of spying on us.

It was an wonderful presentation. Doctorow proved to be engaging and his topics were thought-provoking and extremely timely, as he astutely pointed out, our copyright legislations are currently under large scale review.

McLuhan, Books & Libraries: An Old Figure in a New Ground

Dr. Robert K. Logan from the University of Toronto presented several recollections of conversations with McLuhan. As a past colleague of McLuhan his knowledge of the man seemed peerless.

As well, doing his best to channel McLuhan, Dr. Logan described how he is endeavouring to answer several burning questions about the future of libraries in an effort to write a new book about the subject.

FrankenLibraries: The Latest Tech Trends

Presented by Stephen Abram, a veteran library watcher, strategic technologist and library futurist, the topic centred on services libraries should be adopting for present and future relevance.

One of the first slides in Abrams presentation was “It’s simple really, shift happens, gedoverit (sic)”. This terse statement summed up the topic very well.

One of the important points of the presentation was how libraries need to measure impact rather than just circulation statistics. In fact, the number of people passing through the library doors should be a powerful indicator of success, while dwindling circulation statistics should be considered to be less indicative.

As well, libraries need to focus on professional services and strategic alignment. Librarians need to be service professionals and not servants, and educators not supplements. He pointed out that Librarians are powerful agents for successful learning and they should be seen as such.

Lastly, Abrams stressed the power of video resources. He pointed out that humans are visual learners and they will learn better through video rather than print.

Stephen Abram’s Blog: http://Stephenslighthouse.com