September 20, 2021

ALA Midwinter 2012: From Consumer Electronics Through Post-ILS, Top Tech Trends Run the Gamut


This morning’s Top Technology Trends (TTT) panel at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, TX, attracted its usual large audience as speakers singled out topics like user expectations, analytics, systems integration, and data interoperability as areas for the library community to watch. The range of highlights was more varied than last June’s TTT panel at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, which concentrated on the rise of mobile apps and social networking services.

Stephen Abram, VP for strategic partnerships and markets at Cengage Learning and author of the popular Stephens Lighthouse blog, highlighted how increasingly “frictionless” payment methods using smartphones could change expectations of libraries. For example, when a patron can access an ebook on their phone instantly, why would a patron physically drive to a library? Abram asked, “what’s the library service proposition, when we’ve been building ourselves on inventory, and the inventory moves into the virtual space?” (Later, when speaking about mobile, he characterized QR codes as “a lovely transitional technology that won’t exist in a couple of years.”)

He also said that technologies that meld the electronic and physical object experience could become more popular in the future. Many people still like vinyl records and physical books, and he cited tech that can create physical objects from electronic data—such as the Espresso Book Machine [see LJ’s recent story on that technology on The Digital Shift] and 3D printers—as deserving of attention.

For notes on all of the Top Tech Trends panelists, see “ALA Midwinter 2012: From Consumer Electronics Through Post-ILS, Top Tech Trends Run the Gamut

David Rapp About David Rapp

Associate editor David Rapp previously covered technology for Library Journal.