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Introduction | History | Present | Future

Library 101: Introduction

David:     *singing* “Library 101!”
Michael:  *screaming off key*  “The basics have changed!!”
David:     “Cut”
Michael:  “Sorry..I got a little excited there.”
David:     “No worries, my man, this is pretty exciting stuff. We’ve got the song, the video…”
Michael:  “The essays from a ton of cool, smart library folks…”
David:     “The web site, the buttons, the shirts…”
Michael:   “The Library 101 Project presentation, oh, and the debut of the Project, which is most of this all wrapped into one!”
David:     “Yep, that’s about it”
Michael:  “Well, for this time anyway. For now, we have our “Library 101 RTK” document to write.
David:     “Resources and Things to Know…” Yeah, I’m gonna be sure and tell everyone that calling it “Library 101 RTK” was YOUR idea!
Michael:  *gulp* Well, ok, but the point is, here on the RTK page, you and I have 101 resources and things to share with all the folks visiting and joining in the Library 101 Project fun.
David:     Exactly, and we both believe that if library staff read this list and used some of the tips and resources it contains that libraries and library staff will be closer to making it through and succeeding during the social and technological change we are seeing today … and will see more of in the coming decades. 
Michael:  “You said it, brother. Now, let’s get to it!”
David:     “Ok, you go first.”
Michael:  “Ok. This first thing is that we’ll include a number in parenthesis every time we list a RTK item, so watch for those. Many will be hyperlinked and we encourage you to explore to your hearts content. When you are done reading, please send us feedback, or an essay on Library 101 or an item we missed, or…whatever! We want to hear from you!  Really!”
David:     “The second thing is that from here on out we aren’t going to write this like a play. 101 things is a LOT, even though we’ll do our best to make it fun and interesting to read. Let’s jump in!”

Library 101: Section I – History

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What happened that made NOW such a critical, rare time for libraries? 

Libraries have always done important work and returned value to the communities they serve. For many years, few deeply significant things changed in libraries. There certainly were changes, but these were not the major shifts to the profession that we have seen in the last few years, and will continue to experience. Even so, there are some Library 101 skills that have ALWAYS been part of libraries. These are general life skills that librarians seem to have in droves, like creativity (1), or being lifelong learners (2). Many of us have always scanned the horizon (3), looking out for what the future holds and being able to pick out the good stuff we saw and not be afraid to try new things (4). And of course, always working with the public has provided much experience for us in regards to people skills (5) and customer service (6).

As technology changed, we did adapt – for example, we learned some basic business skills, like how to type (7), how to handle ourselves during a conference call (8), and how to create an interesting presentation (9). As computer technology became practical to use in everyday business, libraries started expanding onto PCs and servers, and we started adapting the budding technology of the time to our purposes. We started creating and buying ILS systems (10), for example. We did a remarkable job of adapting new tools to our library world.

In the last 10 years we have seen another huge shift, possibly even more significant. With the relatively affordable availability of home computers connected to the web and the development and wide adoption of search tools like Google (11), the perception of need for traditional reference services (one of the more highly valued library services) started to change. We learned advanced search syntax (12) – first in tools like Dialog, then in the 1990s in search engines.

Soon, email (13) and shopping online were no longer novelties – they became mainstays for many. But even more important is this: for the first time since the advent of the telephone, television, and radio, we have a new set of electronic communication tools. And these tools started to have a huge impact on people. Finding a deal online felt GOOD! Reading email each day (usually) made us more productive … it certainly kept us in closer touch with our family and friends.

People wanted more – more processing power, more bandwidth, more ways to connect to each other. This lead us to Web 2.0, and to our set of present Library 101 skills! Read on!

Library 101: Section II – Present

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What to know and do now to remain relevant

Today, technology is a powerful driver of change in libraries, and it will stay that way for the rest of your career. So what do we do NOW? Well, for starters, there are a whole new slew of general Library 101 skills to polish up. These skills include: learning to scan the technology horizon (14), basic project management skills (15), and strategic planning (16) with technology as a major component of those strategies. And don’t get us wrong – we much prefer to focus on goals rather than on the coolness factor (17) of a shiny new tool!

Because of the new tools mentioned next, librarians need the ability to change (18). That’s probably one of our most important Library 101′s on this list! With that goes a sister skill – time management (19). Anyone got that one down yet? If so, schedule us in for a training session! Many of us are turning into people- or project-managers, so we need to learn some basic management skills (20). With that comes the ability to focus on long range planning (21), rather than on putting out fires. That’s no fun at all, and doesn’t ever really reach anyone’s goals.

Before we get to the shiny 2.0 skills, we need some basic, current, yet still-relevant-to-the-discussion PC skills! Does everyone in your library (and yes, we mean EVERYONE) know how to do basic PC troubleshooting (22)? If someone brought a laptop into your library, could you connect it to your library’s wifi network (23) without a hitch (on your end, anyway)? Not all of us have those skills yet. Can everyone in your library adequately navigate more than one open window on their computer screens (24)? How about saving documents to your library’s network (25)? Personally, can they save things to a cloud-based service (26) like Dropbox or Is everyone even familiar with those tools?

Does everyone have the ability to manage multiple account usernames/passwords without using stickynotes on the computer monitor (27)? Is everyone OS Agnostic (28), meaning that we can do simple stuff like type and save a document online, on a Mac, or on a PC without too much trouble? Here’s one of David’s little pet-peeves… can everyone use their PC’s presentation software … while presenting in front of people (29) without blaming the PC if we forget how to hit arrow keys and spacebars?

There’s also some basic website building skills that all librarians should know, like basic HTML (30) and the basics of usability testing (31). Why know these? Because you will need to use these skills when troubleshooting content on your library’s CMS (32).

OK – I said we’d need to talk 2.0 tools. Yes, you need to know the basics of emerging 2.0 tools, like Flickr (33), MySpace (34), Google Docs (35), wikis (36), and Google Maps (37). With Google Maps, you should know how to create a mashup using Google Maps and your library’s data (38). There are 3rd party tools that make this a breeze. You should be acquainted with Mint and other online banking and finance tools (39) and location-aware apps like Loopt or BrightKite (40)? We should at least read about them and check out their respective websites. Can we all buy things online (41)? Most likely – but it’s still worth mentioning, because Aunt Marge is sure to ask for help buying that sweater off eBay … when she’s at the library.

Understanding the basics of RSS (42) is also something good to know, and will translate to practically all of the current 2.0 tools. Learn it.

But let’s not stop there. How about community-building tools like Twitter (43), Facebook (44), or Linked In (45)? These are great to use. Even better is understanding the difference between Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In (46)! Why learn these tools? Well – because there’s an explosion of traffic around your digital branch (47), and these 2.0 outposts are part of that explosion. It also means that you need to get a handle on social network privacy options (48), and have a grasp of when it’s good to keep personal and work social network accounts separate (49) and when it’s not.

What do most of these emerging community-based tools have in common? They’re all about communicating! They use more Library 101′s, like IM (50) and text messaging (51). This, of course, means that u n33d the ability 2 read & comprehend txt msgs, kthxbye (52). You also need to know how to remotely collaborate with others (53) using tools like online conference calling services (54) or Skype (55). Let’s throw livestreaming (56) into the mix as well here (but only because it’s an extremely useful and cheap videoconferencing solution). And of course, using these tools means that you have to learn to communicate well – by email, txting, phone, audio, and video (57).

Heard of new media tools and services, like iTunes (58), Netflix (59), Amazon (60), Hulu (61), and YouTube (62)? Yep – if you haven’t already, be sure to learn them like the back of your hand. Because you WILL be (more likely, ARE) getting questions about them! Even better, gain some in-depth understanding of these services so you, say, know the difference between YouTube and (63), for example. While you’re at it, learn to actually create content and post to some of these services. Gain the ability to create a video (64) and upload it to YouTube or, and pick up the ability to create a podcast (65) as well.

Talking about videos and podcasts leads us to content. And there are a LOT of Library 101′s related to content! Libraries now have digital audiobooks (66) and text-based ebooks (67). Librarians are writing and posting to blogs (68). We are reading them, too. Just a tiny few of our dozens of favorites include,,,, and Which means we need to know how a feed reader like Google Reader (69) works. But let’s not stop there. Since we are writing blog posts, we need to know how to write for the web (70) and how to write for participation (71). And that’s just when we’re playing around with text! We’re also making videos and snapping photos, right? So we need some basic photography (72) and basic photo editing skills (73). And we probably need to know how to make a video – but not just any video. We need to know how to make a good, interesting, fun video that clocks in at 2 minutes or less (74). And as we soak up this knowledge about content, let’s not forget that we need to know the difference between a format (i.e., a book) and the content housed within the format (i.e., a mystery novel) (75).

And when it comes to content, we need ways to find it. When it come to items in library specific catalogs and databases, that “way” can be via an emerging ILS tool/service (76) like SOPAC II, VuFind, Koha, or WorldCat Local (and a host of similar tools – how cool is that?).

That was a fairly hefty list of ways to create and consume content, but there is something between our patrons and the consuming of that content, right? We have to search for content and be able to find it! Search engine skills were already named in the Past section above … but there are some other search-related skills you should know about in this day and age. You should know what a vanity search (77) is, and how to set up alerts via RSS and email (78) for those vanity searches. You should also be familiar with a couple of good urban myth-busting sites (79), and know how to not be taken in by an online scam (80).

Mobile technology is both interesting and wildly popular across the entire globe and there is a very real mobile revolution going on right now. Libraries have to know about it, understand the current and impending implications, and then makes choices about how to best engage with this type of information access and interaction. We certainly need to at least go play with an iPhone (81) and compare it with other cell phones/hand held computers to see where mobile tech is headed. In fact, we should do the same with pretty much any cool new smart phone (82). And knowing how to access the app stores (83) for each of them (because your patrons might, and should really, be coming to us for help with exactly this sort of situation!). While we’re at it, figuring out the basics of a variety of ipod/mp3 players (84) that your local community uses is another Library 101.

As is clear to most folks reading this, there is an online revolution going on right now that is unlike any in human history. We are connecting, consuming, and creating like never before. Some of us are “connected” and online almost all the time … and while this next item might seem like an abrupt jump to some, given the level of connectedness we have today, we desperately need to learn the basics of marketing and promotion (85). But in order to do that, we first need to be able to find our local online community (86), don’t we? We might even need to teach social tools and online social skills to our local community (87). Online and offline, we also need to develop the ability to mingle with our local community (88). We’ve been doing that in our library buildings for ages. Now we need to learn to do this outside of our buildings, be that physically or digitally outside.

One last thing for the present. All those tools your library uses? All those databases, catalogs, and social networking tools? All that software you offer on your public PCs for patrons? Yep, you guessed it. You need to be able to use all the tools in your library (89), so you can teach patrons how to use them.

We have an amazing opportunity, and a wild ride before us in, the Future…

Library 101: Section III –Future

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What to expect in the next 10-30 years

Hi-fi Sci-fi Library!

The changes libraries might see in the next 10-30 years will be unlike any other. The changes will be even more dramatic than what we saw when electronic cataloging, electronic interlibrary loan, online document retrieval and web-based searching appeared on our horizons. Future library service models and interactions will, with very rare exceptions, ALL have electronic communication as part of the transaction (which is why we mentioned all those tools earlier!).

How about the future of content? Is your library ready for primarily online news (93), and a shift to online books, music, and videos (94)? Have you thought about how on-demand printing (95) of books might impact your library’s public printers? And that’s not even touching the surface of augmented reality (96), which might be mobile, wifi-enabled, and will shift as you move down the street. Screens will be evolving (97), too. Look out for more projector-based touch screens (like the Microsoft Surface) and foldable e-paper, for example. But even more important is this: right now, most of our favorite online community and content tools are run by corporations. Those corporations aren’t really thinking about us libraries. Are we ready to start figuring out how to navigate those huge shifts (98)?

The level of care almost all library professionals put into their work and community is here to stay. The core values of libraries and librarianship are here to stay. The larger mission and noble principles of librarianship are here to stay as well. But, if the library of the future is to succeed, thrive and achieve its larger mission and goals, there is actually very little room for much of what is thought of as traditional librarianship.

Stereotypes will fade away in the library of the future. Like what? We’re talking about things like this: the librarian sitting behind a desk much of the day, using primarily in-house, offline resources, relying mostly on books and letting books be our primary “brand” association for our users; shushing; largely letting people come to us rather than being where our users are; often resisting emerging technology due to expense, fear or the much-used “That’s not the way we’ve always done it” excuse. Making these things go away now is a choice for us; eventually, they will be thrust upon us in often unpleasant ways.

While the future is impossible to actually predict, there are powerful hints out there, many of which are linked on this Library 101 RTK page. We can see these clues to the future continually pop up as we become more deeply engaged with meshing technology and libraries to accomplish our ultimate goals of information access and community improvement.

Look no further than emerging tools like the beta invite of Google Wave (90), which combines familiar tools like wikis, IM, and real time updates (91) in a new and engaging way. Your server room might just be shrinking, with the realization of enterprise cloud computing (92).  These developments, to many, may seem disconnected from how we serve the public directly in the library or how our future will evolve for us as library professionals – but watch carefully, keep scanning and learning. As more of us are realizing, the fairly near future is going to be full of the most powerful, and potentially positive changes that libraries have, and maybe ever will face.

Wow. Some of our jobs might be disappearing while other, still-emerging jobs and job skills will be created (99). Are you ready to navigate the unknown (100)? Are you ready to … add to this list (101)? OK – that last one might seem like, “Aww, man. They just did that ’cause they ran out of stuff to talk about!” Not really – given about 20 minutes and a good cup of coffee, we could easily come up with another set of 100 things we think librarians should know, and at least some of you would agree with us!

But reason 101 IS important. Because YOU will be creating the future. For yourselves. For us (David and Michael say, “Please make it a good one!”). For your patrons. For our world! So please – go and make your Library 101!

Complete List of Library 101 Skills

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1. creativity
2. lifelong learning
3. scanning the horizon
4. try new things
5. people skills
6. customer service
7. how to type
8. conference call tips
9. how to create presentations
10. ILS systems
11. online search tools
12. advanced search syntax
13. email


14. scan the technology horizon
15. project management
16. strategic planning
17. able to focus on system-wide goals
18. ability to change
19. time management
20. basic management skills
21. ability to focus on long range planning

22. basic PC troubleshooting
23. able to connect to wifi networks
24. able to navigate multiple open windows on a PC
25. saving documents to library’s network
26. saving to a cloud-based service
27. manage multiple account usernames/passwords
28. OS Agnostic
29. able to use presentation software
30. basic HTML
31. basics of usability testing
32. CMS
33. Flickr
34. MySpace
35. Google Docs
36. wikis
37. Google Maps
38. able to create a mashup using Google Maps and library data
39. online banking and finance tools
40. Location-aware apps
41. buy things online
42. RSS
43. Twitter
44. Facebook
45. Linked In
46. understanding the difference between Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In
47. digital branch
48. social network privacy options
49. know when it’s good to keep personal and work social network accounts separate
50. IM
51. text messaging
52. read & comprehend text messages
53. remotely collaborate with others
54. online conference calling services
55. Skype
56. livestreaming
57. communicate well by email, txting, phone, audio, and video
58. iTunes
59. Netflix
60. Amazon
61. Hulu
62. YouTube
63. know the difference between YouTube and
64. ability to create a video
65. ability to create a podcast
66. digital audiobooks
67. text-based ebooks
68. blogs
69. Google Reader
70. how to write for the web
71. how to write for participation
72. basic photography
73. basic photo editing skills
74. how to make a good, interesting, fun video
75. know the difference between a format and the content housed within the format
76. emerging ILS tools and services
77. vanity searches
78. alerts via RSS and email
79. urban myth-busting sites
80. how to not be taken in by an online scam

81. iPhones
82. new smart phones
83. app stores
84. basics of a variety of ipod/mp3 players
85. marketing and promotion
86. able to find our local online community
87. teach social tools and online social skills to our local community
88. ability to mingle with our local community
89. able to use all library tools


90. Google Wave
91. real time updates
92. realization of enterprise cloud computing
93. primarily online news
94. online books, music, and videos
95. on-demand printing
96. augmented reality
97. Basic grasp of evolving electronic screen and monitor options
98. Figure out how to deal with media corporations that steal market share from libraries
99. changing job market
100. ready to navigate the unknown
101. Ready to add to this list

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