Information Management and Libraries – Predictions for 2016

This post from Outsell discusses the challenges and opportunities for information managers and librarians in 2016. The report emphasizes in particular these three trends:

  • Demand for friction-free access will grow: The pressure of an ever-increasing millennial workforce that relies heavily on their mobile devices, as well as the overall growth of mobile usage, is forcing information managers and solution providers to provide any time, any place, and any device access to content.
  • Opportunities for data management abound: The burgeoning of data – from myriad sources like websites, social media, advertising, connected devices, sales figures, research efforts, consumers, etc. – means that information managers, like everyone else, need to get a seat at the table
  • Uncertain times necessitate strong leadership: In some ways, libraries (public, academic, corporate, and government) in the digital era are experiencing an identity crisis. Is there a need for a physical space, coordinated collections, or a suite of info-related services when every knowledge worker has a powerful computer in his/her pocket? What will the future of the library be and how should a library respond to meet that future? Where are the opportunities for libraries in the research lifecycle, whether it is scholarly, product-driven, or commercially focused? 

The post concludes with the following observation: Successful and thriving libraries are the ones that are constantly looking for new opportunities, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones by taking on new dimensions, and not maintaining the status quo. Identifying and capitalizing on current trends like ease of access, data management, or forging a leadership profile, and making strategic changes part of the library DNA, can go a long way toward ensuring success.

11 information disaster risks

This article from Redpill Linpro discusses 11 information disaster risks, and the was in which proper document management can help avoid them. The built-in slides could make a useful teaching tool in my Records Management class.  The risks are:

  1. Increasing use of digital records
  2. The lack of information hubs
  3. The quantity of information produced
  4. The lack of proper document management tools
  5. Inefficient searching
  6. Interdependence of internal and external parties
  7. Different levels of authority
  8. Materials from external parties
  9. Multiple access points
  10. Different document formats
  11. Velocity of information

This is not a complete list, of course, since it doesn’t mention matters such as security, human error, and so forth, but this company produces document management software, so the emphasis of the 11 items is understandable.

50 teaching apps for 2016

The staff at TeachThought have put together a list of the 50 top teaching apps for 2016. Although the scope of this list is for schools rather than universities, a number of the listed apps would be very relevant to university environments.  I use a number of these apps already, but I am looking forward to trying some new ones (Adobe Voice, for example).

Digital distractions

This article discusses the result of a survey that examined the affect of digital devices during classes on students. Students….overwhelmingly support using devices in the classroom, with about 90 percent of respondents saying devices should not be banned. The students base their support mainly on two beliefs: that they can use devices without being significantly distracted, and that they should be free to use their devices whenever they want. A smaller number of students said whatever they use the devices for outweighs the distractions it may cause (12.8 percent), or that they simply can’t stop themselves from looking (11.5 percent).

I have not banned the use of digital devices in my classes. I am of the opinion that students need to take responsibility for their actions.  I make it clear to students that if at any time their use of devices distracts me or other students, I will ask them to stop using the devices. I state also that students are responsible for any information or discussions they miss because of any activities on their digital devices (in other words, I’m not going to repeat or go over information missed because of this). I do know that digital devices can be used to help students track their learning, so I don’t want to have a ban, but a number of my colleagues are increasingly doing so.

I know that I am guilty of using digital devices during committee meetings at times, although I do use the devices to take notes (e.g., via EverNote).  Nevertheless, I have checked email and social media sites on more than one occasion (as have other people around me), and I realize also that this is rude, so perhaps I need to re-frame my policy to specify types of appropriate use (e.g., FB, Twitter, Instagram, email, etc., are not acceptable use, but note taking, note sharing, and so forth, are).  An outright ban on any devices simply doesn’t work for me, as I am one of those people who much prefers to take notes on a digital device (due to carpal tunnel, in my case), and I am sure that many students are in the same position.  Further, my classes tend to rely heavily upon Web access and use.

Microsoft Cortana’s email features

The title of this article is telling: Microsoft’s Cortana to spy on email to keep you on track. The article discusses Cortana’s “helpful” features that can scan your email and recognize language indicating a commitment and use this information to create reminders. If, for example, you send a message to your boss stating, “I will send you the project by 4:00 p.m.,” Cortana will set an alert so you don’t forget. Now, I’m all about keeping myself organized, but isn’t this what keeping calendars is all about? When I have an event or task, I schedule it in my calendar, and a reminder is sent to me. Do I really need or,  more importantly, want, Cortana to scan my emails to send me reminders? No mention is made in the article about where this information is stored. Is Microsoft tracking any of this data? I don’t think that I’m a particularly paranoid person, but this feature does raise a few alarm bells with regard to privacy.

10 Google Docs hacks for teachers

I tend to go back and forth between OneDrive and Google Drive, since I have 4 accounts with both (2 personal, and 2 professional). I do create documents in both environments, although sometimes I do prefer to use the desktop Office products, as they have greater functionalities (e.g., managing citations).  Collaborative work is facilitated in both environments, although you do need to pay attention to version control. This article provides some useful tips for how to better use the features of Google Docs:

  1. Conversion of Word documents to Google Docs format
  2. Offline editing (very important when working on the go)
  3. Version restoration
  4. Emailing attachments
  5. Voice typing (I am impressed with its accuracy)
  6. Web embedding of Google Docs (I have not yet tried this)
  7. Embedded search (e.g., Google Scholar)
  8. Create tables of content
  9. Equation toolbar
  10. Language translation

Rogers, Telus await landmark ruling on cellphone privacy

According to today’s Globe and Mail, an Ontario court is set to issue what could be a landmark ruling on a Charter of Rights challenge filed by two of Canada’s biggest wireless carriers over “tower dump” production orders that would have required the companies to turn over personal information of about 40,000 customers.

Since I’m a Rogers wireless customer, it’s comforting to know that these companies challenged 2014 production order from Peel Regional Police obtained production orders requiring the two companies to provide communication records related to 21 cellular towers or sites.  Rogers and Telus argued that complying with the order would have resulted in the disclosure of customer name and address information for more than 9,000 Telus subscribers and more than 30,000 Rogers subscribers.

Rogers: We want to ensure our customers’ privacy rights are protected and there are clear ground rules for what law enforcement is able to request and access… [our] policy is only to share customer information when required by law or in emergency situations. This case did not meet the test for us and we are hopeful the court agrees. As am I.