The Information Architecture Institute
A conference on designing
complex information spaces of all kinds.
New York City, October 4 and 5, 2007

Next generation libraries

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After a fun, fast dim sum lunch over at O’Asian it was time for what I hoped would be the anchor session of the conference, Next generation libraries. bringing together library design, information systems and design into one nice, thoughful, synthesizing panel sandwich. I was not disapointed.

Things started with Deborah Jacobs, from the city library of seattle, sharing stories about the Seattle library’s development, Koolhaas‘ design ideas, and what the library means to Seattle. Sadly had to leave on library business berore the full on panel Q&A began.

Next up was Edward Vielmetti, (known by many as the man behind Superpatron), who spoke about his involvement with his local Ann Arbor library. He explained the challenges libraries face to keep pace with technology, demonstrating how his own library, and other services like LibraryThing are doing their best to serve their patrons. (Sadly I missed the middle part of his talk, for biological and employment related issues. If you have notes, please share).

Rounding out the session was Paul Gould from Pittsburgh based MAYA design, on his work with the Carnegie public libraries. He kicked off his talk with a 1950s career advice video on becoming a librarian (”Are books your friend? Do people like you? Than maybe librarianship is for you!”). He followed up by walking us through various library environments with obvious wayfinding, flow and interaction problems. and MAYAs role in revising their system thinking for how the library functioned.

His talk included gems about how libraries civilize people - a claim that made the signifigance of the Internet, Web 2.0, and various other obsession prone technologies of our field seem suddenly shallow (Does e-mail civilize people? tag clouds? folksonomies? Like Stone’s plea for making our lives better, the questions circling around this phrase stuck with me for most of the afternoon)

-Scott Berkun

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