By Ruth A. Pagell*
(19 Mar 2023) In order to pay my way into the Internet Librarian conference that I described in RR 54, I agreed to write an article about the conference for the Online Searcher section of the Computers In Libraries magazine. Until 2023, Online Searcher had been a stand-alone publication itself, with a long history of name changes and mergers, beginning as Database in 1978.
RR 54 Part 3 has a summary of the conference itself. The magazine article goes into more detail on the speakers’ content for the search module. The module featured many of the long-time leaders in writing and speaking about searching. The article is not open access but presentations and services from the lead speakers are available on their websites. Mary Ellen Bates began with many of the basics of searching and interacting with clients. Other annual speakers included Amy Affelt, Stephen Abram, Gary Price, and Marydee Ojala, an editor for Information Today publications, a conference organizer, and a long-time colleague of mine. For a change of focus in the module, Miranda Pratt, Wikipedian in Residence (WiR), and Kim Gile, community specialists’ leader, at Kansas City Public Library, shared how they created a presence on Wikipedia. Kansas City (Mo.)
AI Chatbots and Blockchain
The article also commented on Chatbots and Blockchain. Chatbots are easy to understand. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates and processes human conversation (either written or spoken), allowing humans to interact with digital devices as if they were communicating with a real person (Oracle). Alexa is a precursor of today’s Chatbots, which are now being used to “write” academic papers. Mary Ellen Bates’ open access article, in this issue of Computers in Libraries, is a good read for librarians to find out more about using Chatbots.
Brian Pichman, director of strategic innovation, Evolve Project, and Internet Librarian Program Coordinator responded to a question about using AI as a search tool. He said that questions such as “how I do XYZ’ or ‘where do I get ABC,’ can be answered by AI as a search tool. I also think that in the near future we will have reference AI assistants that can answer research questions.”
Blockchain is still somewhat of a challenge for me. The Internet Librarian presentation, “Is Blockchain the Future of your Library?” presented different views on the answer. Mike Meth, author of “Blockchain in Libraries” believes that it is useful for all, while Joyce Johnston felt it is not for all libraries at this time.
The American Library Association supports a website on blockchain, with links to many other articles including Marr’s The Complete beginner’s guide to blockchain. Despite the age of the article, ALA adopts his definition:
“A blockchain is a distributed database, meaning that the storage devices for the database are not all connected to a common processor. It maintains a growing list of ordered records, called blocks. Each block has a timestamp and a link to a previous block.”
Internet Librarian Connect 2023, October 17-19, will be virtual. A call for papers with section topics can be accessed at https://internet-librarian.infotoday.com/2023/Program.aspx with more information added in late June. Asian readers should check this out as an opportunity to participate.
Information Today has been sponsoring a spring conference, Computers in Libraries since the mid-1980s. This year’s conference is March 28-30 in Alexandria Virginia, with many of the same speakers who were highlighted at Internet Librarian.
Bates, M.E. (March 2023) Voices of Searchers, Computers in Libraries 43,2 . 35 accessed at https://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/mar23/Bates–Will-We-Be-Replaced-by-Chatbots.shtml
Marr, B. ( 24 Jan 2017).The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain, Forbes, accessed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2017/01/24/a-complete-beginners-guide-to-blockchain/?sh=55b631a6e607
Meth, M. (Jan 2019). Blockchain in Libraries in SJSU Scholarly Works, accessed at https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/faculty_rsca/514/
Pagell, Ruth. (March 2023). Waking up to search at Internet Librarian. Computers in Libraries, vol 43 no 2
A list of all Ruth’s Rankings and News Updates is here.
*Ruth A. Pagell is emeritus faculty librarian at Emory University. After working at Emory, she was the founding librarian of the Li Ka Shing Library at Singapore Management University and then adjunct faculty [teaching] in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii. She has written and spoken extensively on various aspects of librarianship, including contributing articles to ACCESS – https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3238-9674