As mentioned previously, members of the web team attended the recent mesh conference and found it quite valuable. I was expecting to be somewhat out of place as a librarian (albeit a "web" librarian) but the great strength of the conference was the diversity of voices and perspectives. I got many insights into potential directions for library web services that I'm not sure I would otherwise have found. A part of this was just talking to tech-savvy people who still thought of the library as "books only" (not that this isn't still a big part of our identity!) and thinking as a result about how we might make our web presence better known--I'm hoping at least a few of them will start using Safari Computer Bookshelf or some of our other tech-focused resources (we have a ton of electronic journals and magazines dealing with computer science, information technology and technology in general available with your library card through our website). Thanks to everyone I met at #mesh09 who shared ideas and thoughts with me.
I wanted to quote (perhaps paraphrase) two lines from Mayor Miller's second-day keynote, where he discussed plans for opening up city data and using web services to improve civic life that I thought were of especial relevance to the library's own efforts:
- "When we share our information and open up our data, individuals will create new applications that benefit both the community and the city."
- "In the future, systems can be redesigned to ensure they are open."
We have written previously on "Toronto 2.0" and our vision of the library's place in it and our efforts to open up our own data. Major attention is being paid as part of our ongoing redesign of the library's web presence to changing the "underlying" model and structure of our data to make it more open, both to improve our own ability to build interesting and helpful web services in the future, and to enlist the ideas and skills of the community in adding value to our data, like the Red Rocket iPhone application has done with data shared by the Toronto Transit Commission.
So we are on board here at the web team with the vision of a more open city (the library is a city service, though we report to an arms-length board rather than to the city directly), and hope to make some pretty exciting announcements relatively soon about our own data-sharing. Watch this space! :)