There was an attack of librarians at SXSW this year, with several library-related panels on topics like digital preservation, information architecture, and the Google Book project. Carrie Bickner-Zeldman, whom I just learned graduated from SI right before Chris and I, did some mad moderation in the digital preservation panel. The panel succeeded at keeping a roomful of hung-over geeks awake at 10am and engaged in what can be a pretty numbing topic. It was nice discussing digital preservation with such an interdisciplinary group – and it generated some potential technological solutions. One of my favorites was Josh Greenberg’s suggestion that we harness the popularity of software like Blogger and WordPress to allow individuals to take charge of their own digital preservation, rather than waiting for the Big Library In The Sky to come along and scoop everything up. Considering it took librarians years to emulate the BBC Domesday laserdisc, a deep web-wide solution could take awhile.
I admired the panel’s ability to keep the conversation from degenerating into that sort of self-involved acronym-riddled institutional naval-gazing that librarians can fall into when they are left alone for too long. I also admire Carrie’s ability to translate rambling half-coherent questions from the audience into something interesting. I don’t remember them teaching that at SI, but I wish they had.
The whole experience reminded me how much I enjoyed studying digital preservation and librarianship in the first place. After an extremely bad experience at the Cornell Libraries Research department, I was pretty burnt out on the whole library thing. Joining my current I.T. team was such a cultural relief (I can swear at work again!) that I really kept away from the Major Library Issues. You may have noticed that it’s been mostly jokes and media reviews around here for the last few months. I’m not sure I ever want another feet-first jump into libraryland, and I definitely still identify as a User Experience Designer, but I did enjoy the morning of library geekiness.
And on that note, some great lists on the topic of How to Lose Your Techie Librarians.