Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on January 11, 2009 - 9:01am
Last year, Web 2.0 trailblazer Ellyssa Kroski broke new ground with her issue of Library Technology Reports, "On The Move with the Mobile Web: Libraries and Mobile Technologies". The report was a comprehensive exploration of how libraries can use mobile technology effectively as the technology becomes more and more mainstream.
In addition to being an LIS educator, speaker and consultant, Ellyssa is also the author of Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals, which has been extremely well-received throughout the LIS community. She also provides news and commentary about emerging technology and library issues on her iLibrarian blog.
I had a chance to catch up with Ellyssa recently via e-mail:
DF: So what kind of reaction have you received after writing your LTR? Has it brought you new or unexpected direction professionally?
EK: I’m happy to report that I received a very positive response after my LTR was published including requests to speak at conferences and events on the topic as well as a few invitations to develop related workshops. One event that I have attended already was the NEASIS&T Mobile Mania event in Boston, MA where I had a chance to present on a lot of my findings from the report. I’ve made my presentation, Libraries to Go: Mobile Tech in Libraries, available on Slideshare here. (http://www.slideshare.net/ellyssa/libraries-to-go-mobile-tech-in-libraries-presentation)
DF: Were there any aspects of the report that received particular attention or feedback?
EK: Well, actually the entire report has received a lot of attention because in keeping with my current “open” platform, the ALA was gracious enough to let me self-archive the report in E-LIS. It’s since been downloaded almost 1,000 times worldwide!
DF: What projects are you currently working on? Can you tell us a bit about these?
EK: I enjoy keeping busy so I am usually working on a few projects at a time, but one that I am particularly excited about is a series of ten books which I am developing with Neal-Schuman Publishers called The Tech Set: Practical Guides to New Tech for Librarians. It’s a collection of practical, how-to guides for effectively using cutting-edge technologies being adopted by libraries today. The books will be written by a cadre of library technology leaders and I’ll be editing the series.
Another project keeping me busy has been teaching several courses and workshops on the “Open” movement and its impact on the library field. These courses look at the history, progress, and successes of Open Source Software, Open Access, and Open Education with a particular focus on libraries. It was very well received at SJSU, and I’ll be offering a similar course at LIU in the spring as well as Simmons College and a few library consortiums. And it’s been a lot of fun to put together; I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview people such as Jimmy Wales about open licenses, Peter Suber about Open Access issues, and Stephen Downes about Open Education. I have made my course plan and all interviews freely available online through a Creative Commons license - http://www.infosherpas.com/SJSU_outline_LIBR287-06.htm.
DF: What do you feel are the most important changes going on right now with open source tools? Are there particular trends that you are excited or worried about?
EK: I am most excited about the steady growth and adoption of these tools, especially in the library field, as well as the development of support services such as LibLime and others which provide a safety net for libraries which might otherwise be a bit nervous about making the leap to open source.
DF: Do you think the current economic situation is making open source tools more appealing?
EK: Yes, because in many cases these are lower cost alternatives, and also in a down economy like this you don’t have to worry about your software vendor going out of business if you’ve gone with OSS. But libraries often have budget concerns independent of the state of the economy, so we’re always looking for ways to stretch our dollar. I think that open source tools are particularly well-suited to libraries because it’s an investment in ourselves. We’re spending our money in different ways – instead of purchasing software licenses, we’re using the funds to customize the software to our needs. And we’re also giving back to the open source community by sharing the code we create. The recent development of SOPAC2: The Social OPAC at Darien Library is a great example of this.