Innovation

Libraries and the IoT

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, has caused an explosion in the number of everyday devices that are able to collect and transmit data. Librarians recognize the balancing act required to implement IoT technologies in accordance with core principles of librarianship. Where IoT can improve access to materials or services, or provide learning opportunities, without compromising patron privacy, libraries are joining hands with their communities and diving in. Librarians are also leading the way on educating patrons about what IoT entails—its inner workings, uses, limits, and implications for our communities and society.

Adulthood: A Process, Not an Event

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From local practices to national policies, there is growing acknowledgement that becoming an adult is a process, not just a date on a calendar. This concept is rooted in research that identifies a unique stage of physiological and social development between the ages of 18 and 25, known as Emerging Adulthood.1 It also reflects the challenges of a post-recession reality in which young adults often delay leaving their parents’ homes and health insurance policies.
Libraries have responded to the concept of Emerging Adulthood in two major ways. First is the growth of educational programming that builds individual capacity, commonly referred to as “adulting.” A necessary step towards growing up is learning how to survive independently and, with a plethora of resources and deep connections to the community, libraries are well positioned to support that step.

Making an Imprint on the Community

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The Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library is named after NASA astronaut Theodore Cordy “Ted” Freeman, who died after his T-38 jet crashed in 1964.  The name reflects Clear Lake City’s status as home to the NASA Johnson Space Center.

But the library, which belongs to the Harris County Public Library system in the Houston area, shows that NASA doesn’t corner the market on innovation.  That innovative spirit is palpable at the library’s Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab, where the library connects in meaningful ways with the community it serves.

Libraries Highlight New Technologies

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Images of drones flying above us conjure a variety of conflicting emotions: a sense of wonder and possibility and, yet, concern about potential consequences—particularly in relation to their use in warfare and surveillance. With the Federal Aviation Authority’s release of new regulations for drones in late summer, one thing is certain: use of this emerging technology will become more widespread. As with many other modern-day tools, libraries are prepared to help patrons understand how drones work, how they can be utilized constructively, and how to navigate the complex implications of their widespread use.

Unplugged at the Library

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Unplugging, then, suggests stepping away from the usual routine, purposefully establishing a quieter zone for undistracted action, interaction, or inaction. Libraries are important sources of access to technology and this will not change. At the same time, libraries are, at their core, about connection. Sometimes, to make those connections, people need to unplug—and libraries have found innovative ways to help patrons achieve that. Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website. Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries.

The Power of Collective Impact

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Collective impact channels the knowledge and resources of multiple partners towards a specific social problem. With their commitment to meeting patrons needs, libraries seek ways to serve and strengthen their communities. Sometimes, however, the needs rise beyond the conventional realm of library services—and this has been particularly true since the recession. Through the strength of non-traditional partnerships, libraries offer innovative solutions to a variety of challenges faced by their communities.

Game On at the Library!

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There is something about play that we humans are wired for and, even as adults, we get a charge from the opportunity to combine skill, chance and a bit of moxie. Gaming and gamification have brought elements of play into previously staid realms. Similarly, they have transformed the way libraries offer learning for patrons of all ages. From escape rooms to competitive reading, libraries are finding new ways to up their game.

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