Digital Disruption: A Librarian's perspective

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Digital Disruption: A Librarians PerspectiveJane Cowell Director Engagement & PartnershipsConnect via: @janecowell8 LinkedIn

The digital transformation the world is undergoing affects all aspects of our lives. Business, social, education, recreation and according to CSIRO signifies the death of the Industrial revolution where the defining driver was mass production. James McQuivey from Digital Disruption has the best quote that resonates with me as a librarian:2

Digital disruptionWhen people adopt technology they do old things in new ways. When people internalize technology they find new things to do.Digital disruption unleashing the next wave of innovation; James McQuivey

James McQuivey is only one of many analysts discussing digital disruption. David Thodey, recently retired CEO of Tesltra says of his 40 years with the company that the greatest rate of change has been in the last 2 years. In the US 40% of the workforce works freelance via new models like Airtasker, Airbnb and Uber.3

Bernie Meyerson, IBM Vice President of Innovation 2014 stressed that personalization is one of the most important trends in the next 5 years. Big data means that there will be more information about you and a computer learning algorithm will be able to provide personalization that matches you. Spotify discover is an interesting model of serendipity searching that builds on what you have listened to. Giving you the see also version for music using a search algorithm that learns. What does this mean for library catalogues? What does this mean for the digitization programs that we are all engaged in? After just getting our heads, hearts and organisations around the massive task of digitising our content for access we also need to think about doing things differently and combining the digitisation content with other data. Eg. NYPL has done this with the fully searchable digital atlas combining historical maps and aggregating historical data for a fully searchable map interface to historical locations, events and people. NYC Space/Time directory. 4

Industries have been destroyed remember encyclopedias? But this is an old model I hear you say. 5

What about relatively new business models? Remember Navman? It had great market positioning in consumer GPS until Google and Apple turned their attention to maps? Another businesses negatively affected by digital disruption is Weightwatchers which has seen its share price slide over 80% in four years as people turn to wearables like Fitbit and online health programmes like the 12Week body transformation/ 6

Kodak literally died the business model they clung to had disappeared and the premise on which they thought their business was also disappeared with the company completely ignoring every sign. The digital camera was apparently designed by one of their staff and it was buried. No idea is one on its own. So if this can happen to a market leader who had blinders on it is wrong to think it will not affect every aspect of the library business.7

And another.8

Digital disruptionNo area of human endeavour is immuneAustralia is a global leader in digital disruptionDigital disruption in Australia: A guide for entrepreneurs, investors and Corporations, Nick Abrahams


Digital disruptionFocus on being good at collaboration to create a great customer experienceInvest in great staff & let them learnGet lean fail fast & fail forwardGive people a higher purposeDigital disruption in Australia: A guide for entrepreneurs, investors and Corporations, Nick Abrahams

Repositioning library work practices, policies and procedures to deliberately remove barriers and to make it easier for the outside world to collaborate with us is also key to focusing outward. Working with the community, not doing to or for the community, means that the community gets to choose and collaborate with the library to achieve improved community outcomes. Telstra is trialling Design your own job programs, and Choose your own boss programmes.Most organisations do not respond well to failed projects, especially risk averse government institutions but we need to be able to incorporate this and for me that would be small pilot projects that are designed to test, learn and be killed quickly. Need to always have that culture of killing off projects that no longer provide impact.John Palfreys recent book Biblio Tech also stresses the importance of viewing oneself as part of a network of libraries rather than an independent silo as essential to the success of librarians.10

CSIRO study: GLAM sectorMake the public part of what we doBecome central to community well-beingBeyond digitisation creative re-useDevelop funding for strategic initiativesInnovation Study: Challenges and Opportunities for Australias Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. CSIRO September 2014

The recent Innovation Study: Challenges and Opportunities for Australias Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums undertaken by CSIRO published in September 2014 made the following recommendations. 1.Making the public part of what we doMany felt a deep reluctance within the sector to let go of the traditional position of authority among curators, librarians and archivists and a simultaneous reluctance for organisations to become genuinely more porous to outside contributors and collaborators. This initiative, involving a fundamental shift to open access, open sharing and greater collaboration with the public aims to effect this shift.2. Becoming central to community wellbeingMake the wellbeing of individuals and communities a deliberate and central part of each organisations purpose and vision. The focus is on both the value of the physical spaces as community centres, but also on the role the collections can play in fostering community memory, sense of self and pride, to the economy, and to community health and resilience as our population both ages and becomes more diverse. 3. Beyond digitisation creative reuse Shift the conversation from the difficulties of digitisation to possibilities of creative reuse. Many participants perceived the need to transition from a push to a pull model where publics are engaged from the beginning and help pull through digitised content based on specific needs, which shapes the form of digitisation and allows for creative reuse. Digitisation is about preservation, use and reuse to build cycles of creativity in which new or reshaped digital objects join the collection.4. Developing funding for strategic initiatives With the expected constraints in support from government, there is a need to transform the basis of funding towards philanthropy, partnerships with the corporate sector and direct support from the wider community. The growing expectation from the public for easy and seamless access to Australias distributed national collection, the pressures of the operating environment and similarities in the digital practice of GLAM organizations make cross-sector collaboration more obviously crucial for innovation, resource and knowledge sharing. CSIRO, 2014 Pp viii


Fundamental disruptionMove fromCuration, information providersMove toEnabling for creation, learning and innovationWithCollaborative & personalized approach

We need to seek a fundamental disruption to revolutionary new services to be sustainable. Our future is not about making incremental improvements to our services but about challenging existing service models and developing completely new ones. Changing the fundamental definition of our profession and services from curation, information providers with a one size fits all approach to one that enables communities and people to create, learn, and innovate with a collaborative and personalized approach will not be easy. No longer the gatekeeper need to accept that we will no longer be the expert on our collections how can we invite the public in and let them become the expert and create new stuff.12

Move away from:Being busy to drive activityMove to: Intentional activity with partners that makes a difference based on evidence

We need to be much more intentional about the choices that we make so that we can have a far greater impact. Its not about doing everything, but about doing those things that will make the biggest difference. Physical space, is one of the greatest assets of many academic and research libraries. In this age of expanding online and on-screen information use, libraries continue to provide places for storing and using legacy materials while offering new kinds of spaces for serving and consulting electronic resources and for conducting technology-enhanced learning and scholarly collaborations. The regular reexamination of how spaces are utilized provides an important opportunity for library leaders to improve support for research, teaching, and learning, while extending and enhancing community relationships. - See more at:


This is from 2014 so the numbers have probably gone up. From the Tao of Twitter, 2012, comes this quote that just pertains to this social media platform. Twitter users are the most influential online consumers more than 70% publish blog posts at least monthly, 70% comment on blogs, 61% write at least one product review monthly, 61% comment on news sites. 11% of online consumers read Twitter updates but do not have an account themselves; 20% follow a brand on Twitter in order to interact with a company more than Facebook fans.So our customers engagement patterns are changing so should we.14

Who should take charge?Who has the Domain expertiseWho has the ValuesWe do! who else will do it with our fundamental value base of sharing & accessIdentify opportunities that matter for our customer & their experience

Too few of us are committed to the open networked library platforms of the future Explain ALICE.15

Digitally empowered customersWell connectedEmpoweredReady to learnWant to shareWant to create

What has changed in the digitally disrupted world is that the customers ability to get what they want and their expectation is now that they can get it when they want it, and that there is no reason why their needs cannot be met.Our customers have changed. In the digital revolution our customers can find information instantly, anywhere, anytime. They are very busy but they do check things out, usually with other customer feedback on social networks such as Tripadvisor. They will walk away especially from traditional institutions. They want us to listen to them and will switch allegiances quickly if they feel we are unresponsive. They totally ignore online advertising but do look for 3rd party reviews and ratings. This is a more powerful driver for change than the digital tools that enabled this power shift to happen and we must shift our thinking outward to respond. If we truly put the individual customer at the centre of our service and personalise our services this will totally transform how we operate and engage.


We can no longer be the gatekeeper or indeed the expert to our content anymore. Our efforts need to go into allowing others who have a passion, interest and expertise from another perspective access to our content. Open APIs, ensuring that collaboration is open not just from our perspective or from a perspective as us as the Big Brother and we always, always need to put the user first. Why? 17

The future customer12 Year old app developer

This is not to say that every library staff member now needs to make an app. What it does show is that digital tools allow digital disruptors to bring an idea to fruition regardless of age, background, nationality and regardless of if they are within your industry. The mindset is for young people our future customers to make stuff. Not to passively consume content but to make content. And that is a big change for libraries used to customers who wait in line to consume our content, based on our rules designed for a one size fits all approach.18

Shows how full bleed image can be used. Caption preferably in white, or black if a light photo. Minimum 20pt arial

So how do we face this digital disruption in our daily working lives? How do we prepare our minds, hearts and behaviours to be more adaptive, think differently and be prepared to give some of the aspects of our work that we love and have done for years up. Yes, dare I say it we need to kill some of our old tasks up even if we love them. 19

I want to reiterate. When people adopt technology they do old things in new ways. When people internalize technology they find new things to do.


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CIA advice on how to slow down an organisation from 1944 and we cannot be slow in our efforts to learn, do new things and to respond to our communitys need to create & learn.21

Why libraries are soooo hard to engage with compared to Apple or Google.22

We need to be nimble & responsive & have planning processes that allow this.23

Lean Startup Methodology

Be ready to pilot & start the project before it is perfect. Adjust & respond to your audience / customer along the way and ask for feedback. If you are at the pilot stage it is easier to quickly respond and change course if needed.24

New ways of working and allowing the community / audience you are engaging with to contribute & have choices within the services that you offer. At SLQ the Entrepreneurs are in da house and are offering the service. SLQ provides the space, connectivity & the information resources.25

OpportunitiesLook outside our industry#MuseumInstaSwapMelting Pot initiativesMove beyond the authoritive voice of The LibraryClick;Connect;Curate;Create project

We need to have a perspective of mindful helpfulness. Move beyond the plugging away on our own on social media with the odd charitable retweet as we only have our eye on our own audience. The MuseumInstaSwap project rewrote the rules on social media. 10 London museums paired up to lend each other their instagram accounts for the week. The result was seeing each museum through the eyes of another highlighting oddities in each collection in new contexts. Go beyond brand silos to enrich the experiences of all. Melting pot initiaitives encourage collaboration between digital and non digital experts. Bring in artists and makers to help rethink the National Library user experience. In the Uk Liecestershire County Council started The Click Connect curate create project is one where best practice, resources and case studies across the museum sector are shared. It has such resources as making Digital work: a toolkit for arts and culture. 26

OpportunitiesLearning happy hourInnovation dream team with budgetLet it Go: our theme...


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