Top Technology Trends, 1999 ALA Midwinter Meeting

Technology and library users: LITA experts identify trends to watch

One of the top trends in technology for libraries is: you don't have to pay attention to all the trends! Ten experts who are members of the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, met for discussion in Philadelphia on January 31, 1999. They agreed that librarians have permission to ignore the "trends of the week" breathlessly and regularly announced in computer industry publicity.

To see more thoughts on the idea of predicting the technology future please see  Futurespeak: A Preface to Top Technology Trends in Libraries , an essay by LITA's Telecommunications Electronic Reviews' Editor,  Tom Wilson .

The discussion group assembled by LITA included  Karen Coyle Walt Crawford Pat Earnest Elizabeth Lane Lawley Clifford Lynch Roy Tennant Carol Tenopir Joan Frye Williams Tom Wilson , and  Milton Wolf . The experts  stay informed  about top trends by reading technology related publications, attending computer seminars/workshops, and networking with others in library and computer related fields.

Top Technology Trends

Trend #1:  Customization and Personalization

Trend #2:  Evaluation of Internet Sources

Trend #3:  Human Factors

Trend #4:  Co-opt Existing Technologies

Trend #5:  Home Scholar

Trend #6:  Authentication and Rights Management

Trend #7:  Submerging Technologies


Brief Summary:

Library users who are Web users, a growing group, expect customization, interactivity, and customer support. Approaches that are library-focused instead of user-focused will be increasingly irrelevant. The University of Washington's MyGateway and North Carolina State University's MyLibrary@NCState are examples of customized portals.


  • Books:

Alexander, Steve. "Web marketing GETS personal."
InfoWorld, January 12, 1998.
  • Sites:
  • Collaborative filtering:
  • Rules-based matching:
  • Magazine article:

Lange, Larry. "Updated Web sites customize data for designers."
Electronic Engineering Times, May 5, 1997, n952 p154(1).
Available at: or


Brief Summary:

In dealing with electronic information resources, what librarians bring to the table is evaluative guidance. Comprehensive lists and catalogs aren't possible any more (if they ever were!), but librarians can help the overloaded information user by selecting, evaluating, and adapting features such as "people who liked this book also liked*."


Beyond "Cool:" Analog Models for Reviewing

Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources

Building Earth's Largest Library by Steve Coffman

The Response to "Building Earth's Largest Library" by Steve Coffman

Earth's Largest Library: One Librarian's Plan of Action by Mike Dahn

Criteria for Evaluation of Internet Information

Critical Evaluation of Resources on the Internet

Evaluating Information found on the Internet

Evaluating Quality on the Net

Evaluating Web Resources

Evaluating Electronic Resources

Evaluation of Information Resources

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; or, or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources

How to Critically Analyze Information Sources

Information about Evaluating WWW Resources

Library Selection Criteria for WWW
T is for Thinking

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web


Brief Summary:

It's time to put a human face on the virtual library. What's the crucial factor in the success of the nonvirtual library? The people who work there and serve the user! What do libraries emphasize on their Web sites? Resources, collections, facts * with no human guidance or presence! On many library Web sites, the user is hard-pressed to identify the staff, whose names, if they're there, are five levels down. The human factor is still important.


Brief Summary:

Why reinvent the wheel? Co-opt existing technologies that haven't been used in libraries, and take advantage of cooperative efforts in information access. Libraries can afford less and less wasteful inefficiency and duplication of effort. You can't catalog the Web yourself; instead, tune in to OCLC's Project CORC or the ISAAC Network . And those folks in the fast food industry with the telephone headphones * why aren't we all using those in customer support?


Building Earth's Largest Library by Steve Coffman


Brief Summary:

The isolated scholar is out there, and she wants your resources! That widespread distribution tool, the Web, is making library resources available to more people than ever before and blurring the lines between audiences. The farmer online from Two Egg, Florida might be just as interested in your one-of-a-kind research material as a graduate student is. Who are you going to serve on the worldwide network and how?



Brief Summary:

Authentication and rights management: who has the right to use this, but not that, and how much will they be charged? And is that document the real thing? The World Wide Web allows more access by more people to more connected information than ever before in history, but documents and identities are also more malleable than ever before. Libraries are going to have an increasing interest in verifying that you are who you say you are, you do have the right to access this resource, and the resources you are receiving are authentic.


"A White Paper on Authentication and Access Management Issues in Cross-organizational Use of Networked Information Resources"
Clifford Lynch, editor. CNI.
(Revised Discussion Draft of April 14, 1998)

W3C Security Resources
Includes links to a number of authentication pages from W3C including "The HTTP/1.0 Basic authentication scheme"

Kerberos: The Network Authentication Protocol
"Kerberos is a network authentication protocol. It is designed to provide strong authentication for client/server applications by using secret-key cryptography. A free implementation of this protocol is available from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kerberos is available in many commercial products as well."

Guideline for the Use of Advanced Authentication Technology Alternatives
(Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 190. 1994 September 28)

"Implementation of JANET authentication and encryption services"
by Andrew Young

Common Authentication Technology (CAT) Working Group Home Page

Authentication and Encryption Software (from NIH)
List and links to various software programs

"User Authentication on the Web" by Allen S. Firstenberg

DePaul Authentication Help Page
Example of a help page for end-users who run into authentication problems

Proposal to Provide a Standardized WWW Authentication for the University.
From North Carolina State University (Date: July 11, 1996)

A University Common Authentication Project Information Resources & Communications DRAFT
(University of California). July 1, 1997

  • RFC Related to Authentication:
RFC 2069: An Extension to HTTP : Digest Access Authentication
J. Franks, P. Hallam-Baker, J. Hostetler, P. Leach, A. Luotonen, E. Sink, L. Stewart
January 1997.


Brief Summary:

Don't run aground on submerging technologies! Often just as important to libraries as emerging technologies are submerging technologies. For example, you need to be planning now to migrate away from CD-ROM and toward the Web as a delivery mechanism for index, abstract, and full text databases.


LITA president Barbra B. Higginbotham noted, "LITA is the preeminent professional organization in this country for librarians working in the fields of systems and information technology. Our members, and the library field as a whole, look to LITA for guidance about both their professional present and future. Our 1999 LITA National Forum in Raleigh, North Carolina, to be held November 5-7, will include programming that expands on many of the trends these LITA leaders have identified, better equipping LITA members for the 21st century."