In anticipation of librarians traveling to SXSWi this week, EveryLibrary - the only national Political Action Committee dedicated to building capacity at a local level to secure and extend library funding at the ballot box - issued the below press release highlighting some examples of libraries on the cutting edge of tech.
Libraries & Librarians as Major Players in Tech at SXSWi
Library Technology Leaders Travel to SXSWi to Showcase Trends hosted by Innovative
AUSTIN (February 5, 2014) – Representatives from the library industry’s leading organizations and associations are attending SXSW Interactive to raise awareness of the ways librarians are already supporting emerging entrepreneurs and tech businesses across the country. The goal is to get more entrepreneurs to recognize how librarians can help them scale their businesses. Through the support of Innovative, the leading provider of technology solutions and services to libraries, these organizations will be represented at the Innovative booth for libraries (#1036) during the SXSW Trade Show.
Joining Innovative to represent the library industry are the American Library Association, the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the Digital Library Federation, Electronic Resources & Libraries, EveryLibrary, the Freedom to Read Foundation, Urban Libraries Council, Urban Librarians Unite, and sxswLAM, among others.
“Librarians are easily the most underutilized resource a startup has. They’re your gateway to all of the information you need to gather competitive intelligence, convene focus groups or allow users to test your product,” says John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, a library advocacy organization dedicated to preserving local library funding and ensuring access. “We’re opening up the eyes of starters and entrepreneurs across the country to the resources that are accessible at their local library and online, for free with a library card.”
Libraries continue to be the original co-working space and are evolving as drivers of the ecosystem. They serve as central locations for civic hacking and tech meetups.
Librarians are also starters themselves, and they are leveraging libraries as showrooms to get their products in the hands of consumers. Following are several examples of libraries and librarians on the cutting-edge of tech.
Libraries and Partnerships for the Future
Joe Murphy, in the capacity of director of Library Futures, is leveraging the technology partner, Innovative Interfaces, to facilitate librarians as partners in the SXSW technology conversation. Murphy says, “We are proud to participate in the meetup of librarians at SXSW. It’s our way of showing our support for the library industry in the pursuit of educating the tech world of what an important role librarians play.”
Libraries as Co-working and Maker Spaces
At Anythink, the public library system for Adams County, Colo., the library supports existing and future entrepreneurs by providing space for making and creating content. The Studio at Anythink provides access to tools like a 3-D printer, a textiles studio, digital photography studios, a sound recording studio and software, like Adobe Creative Suite, to help community members pursue their creative and entrepreneurial passions.
“What’s truly unique about The Studio at Anythink is its Artists in Residence program,” says Stacie Ledden, communications director at Anythink. “We partner professional creatives with our customers to help push their skills to new bounds. By pulling in experts from the fields of web design, programming, photography, graphic design – even vocal coaches – we’re tapping into the expertise of our local community and growing the skillsets of those who use The Studio. Not only does this help them to be successful in their professional and creative pursuits, but they are designing finished products that they can include in their portfolios or on their websites – and they created them at the library.”
In addition to The Studio, Anythink is a destination for business meetings, hosted workshops or as a comfortable, accessible coworking space for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
See Anythink Director Pam Sandlian Smith discuss what to expect in a 21st century library during her presentation for TEDxMileHigh: Women 2013.
Librarians For Open Data and Civic Hacking
Rebecca Stavick, staff development specialist at Omaha Public Library, is one of the four founders of Open Nebraska, a citizen-led organization dedicated to pushing the open data movement in Nebraska. Open Nebraska’s mission is to solve community problems through civic application development, open data advocacy and tech education. The group organized Hack Omaha, a weekend hackathon they hosted in November 2013, which attracted around 30 participants. Stavick contends there are so many elements of civic hacking that are a direct reflection of librarianship. The library, she says, is one of the few places with the space and the Internet access that makes these types of events possible.
“Lack of access to local data is of direct concern to libraries. If libraries are supposed to provide open access to information, then any kind of public data would fall within that realm,” says Stavick. “Curating local information so that it’s more accessible to the public is a common goal of both librarians and civic hackers, with the intended result of informing citizens so they can make their own decisions.”
Open Nebraska is launching Hack Lincoln, the first-ever civic hackathon in Lincoln, Neb., this March and is aiming to plan another hackathon around National Civic Hacking Day in June.
Libraries as Drivers of the Ecosystem
In addition to hosting a local group of developers every Friday, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey is home to the Princeton Tech Meetup. The group, led by local entrepreneur Venu Moola, has a membership base of more than 2,000 people and draws around 150 entrepreneurs, developers and investors to the library on a monthly basis. In traditional pitch-style event fashion, the event begins with a guest speaker and then startup founders get their time in the limelight and have the opportunity to let the crowd know if they’re looking for developers, financing or other forms of support. Following the pitch session, attendees network and make connections. Librarian Janie Hermann, the public programming librarian at Princeton Public Library, says the meetup has been successful in helping starters find both developer talent and investment dollars.
Find more information on Janie Hermann’s SXSW presentation, “The New Startup Garage for Innovation? Libraries”
Libraries as a Showroom
Through the Arapahoe Library District, Director of Digital Services Oli Sanidas is using the library as a showroom to give patrons access to cutting-edge products that are generally out of reach for the everyday consumer. Products like Google Glass, 3-D printers and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets for 3-D gaming are making their way into the hands of patrons at the Arapahoe Library District. Sanidas says they have also begun touring the products throughout the community, giving hands-on access to businesses and residents. While this is a great opportunity for companies to put their products in the hands of consumers, the library’s goal is to expose people to new technology and inspire them to engage by either creating for these technologies or simply raising awareness that they exist.
The Innovative booth for libraries is hosted in partnership with the American Library Association, the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the Digital Library Federation, Electronic Resources & Libraries, EveryLibrary, the Freedom to Read Foundation, Urban Libraries Council, Urban Librarians Unite, and sxswLAM, among others. It is made possible through generous support from Innovative Interfaces.
For more information on the programs, panels, and outreach librarians, archivists, and museum professionals are doing at SXSWi, visit http://www.sxswlam.org/ or stop by Booth #1036 during the SXSW Trade Show.
EveryLibrary is the only national Political Action Committee dedicated to building capacity at a local level to secure and extend library funding at the ballot box. EveryLibrary’s mission is to provide campaign consultancy, technical assistance, and direct funding to locally organized, pro-library ballot committees and PACs. As a 501c4, we do not campaign for or support any candidate for office at any level of government. More about our work building voter support for libraries can be found at www.everylibrary.org.
Innovative is dedicated to providing leading technology solutions and services that empower libraries and enrich their users worldwide. Innovative offers the broadest and most complete portfolio of library automation products on the market today. Innovative.s flagship library services platform, Sierra, is the most rapidly adopted product in library automation history. The company’s versatile and market-leading solutions also include the Millennium ILS, the Encore discovery solution, Electronic Resource Management, Decision Center collection management tool, the SkyRiver cataloging service, and INN-Reach resource sharing. Customers are supported through a 24/7/52 Help Desk, Innovative University, and the CSDirect Web support center. A recognized leader in library automation software, Innovative has introduced technological advancements for over 30 years. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, Innovative serves thousands of libraries in over 50 countries and has offices around the world. Keep up with Innovative on the CEO INN-Sights blog at blog.iii.com, Facebook, and YouTube.