I´m at the national norwegian library conference and tomorrow I´m supposed to sit on a panel to discuss top technology trends for libraries. I thought I would air my thoughts here, and maybe get some feedback from readers.
At first my main trend would be ebooks, this is one of the most controversial and hot topics for libraries this year, but then I realized something. This is no longer a technology trend, the issues are economic and legal, copyright and compensation for authors and publishers are the hot issues, not the technology. Actually I think that ebooks is a fairly mature technology. Yes we still have not resolved the reading platform issue to our satisfaction, but with Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader, ebook software like Calibre and standards like epub in place there is no longer burning technology issues revolving around ebooks. There will be many battles, like with google books, and development of yet better ways of delivery and services, but this is now a question of evolution, not revolution. Libraries need to get into the ebook game here in Norway and especially come up with our own solutions and priorities to questions like delivery and DRM. If not, we are at the mercy of publishers and author organizations who have a different set of solutions and priorites.
So what is the revolution issues in library technology in 2010?
Anywhere – this sums up most techonlogy trends I can think of. With the development of small tablet computers, internet everywhere and cloud computing you have access to information anywhere you go.
Platform independent – this is probably one of the most important developments to look for. As new platforms develop it is important for libraries to develop services and formats that can be accessed on any platform, PS3, iPad, Nintendo DSi XL, mobile phones of all sizes and types, even the good old PC. These are all valid platforms for information and services the library can offer.
In the cloud – goes back to anywhere, but the cloud also poses some challenges for libraries when it comes to access and preservation. The cloud, i.e. computing and storage away from your local computer, is probably here to stay, but since it is totally in the hands of commercial firms, like Google, Amazon and a plethora of small firms offering cheap or free storage and computing power it is a volatile market that could see collapses and loss of mountains of data. If Google should belly up in the near future I will loose most of my email from the last ten years, most of my documents stored on google docs and so on. This is unlikely in the short term, but there are few companies that have lasted as long as libraries. This is something we need to keep in mind when we use cloud services and storage.