Maine Academic Libraries Day

Postcard of Miller Library, Colby College

Image from Boston Public Library: Retrieved from, and used according to a Creative Commons Attribution License

Another Friday (June 14) brought yet another conference, the 5th Annual Maine Academic Libraries Day.   I enjoyed connecting with librarian friends and hearing some useful presentations.

Bryan Alexander (National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education) delivered the keynote address.  He described different trend spotting tools, including environmental scans (done longitudinally and with data from multiple sources), the Delphi process, and studies of past predictions.  He discussed key technology trends, such as augmented reality.   He mentioned the increasing need for information management and the place for locally produced information.  Finally he posed four future scenarios:

  1. Phantom learning (a learning landscape dominated by MOOCs and other non-school options)
  2. Open world (a world with easy access to information, but no privacy)
  3. No change
  4. Renaissance

As we pondered these possible worlds, some participants raised class issues.  Would some of these scenarios further divide the haves from the have-nots?   If my brain functioned better at conferences, I would have asked about the role of self-fulfilling prophecy in these scenarios.

Sometimes I seek an introduction to a topic where I already have a basic knowledge.  I want to learn how to better explain the topic to complete novices.  The first and third breakout sessions fit this pattern.  The first session dealt with cloud applications.  I would not have thought of WordPress as an example of one!  The third session concerned copyright and licensing.  It will help me better explain first sale doctrine: owning the physical item does not mean owning the copyright.  Thanks to Karl Fattig (Bowdoin College) and Beck Albitz (Bates College) respectively for these sessions.

The second session was admittedly a self-indulgence.  We participants played–carefully, of course– with student scrapbooks from the Colby College Special Collections.  The scrapbooks opened a fun window into the past.  At the same time we experienced an active learning exercise we could apply to other primary sources.

I’ll end with an amusing aside.  The keynote speech mentioned augmented reality.  I returned home from Colby College with the aid of my favorite augmented reality application, my GPS.  I like a conference with real-world applications!