LTI’s Advisory Board Reflects on Library Technology in 2023

The big stories, projects, and issues

As we’re entering into the new year, we at LibTech Insights asked the three librarians on our advisory committee to reflect on the state of library technology in 2023 and pick a story, project, or issue that stood out to them.

Lisa Carlucci, Executive Director, Equinox Open Library Initiative

LTI’s launch in January 2023 created a new space for library technology news at just the right time. As librarians, researchers, and technology experts, we track trends and stay current with news sources, research, and professional literature, and consider the use cases, benefits, and potential risks of emerging technologies, in order to be prepared to provide support to our communities. LTI delivers current updates on critical topics, such as privacy literacy (1, 2), accessibility (1, 2, 3), and legal (1, 2, 3) and regulatory (1) news; as well as practical guides and best practices for UX (1, 2), project management (1, 2), and website management (1, 2, 3). LTI invites fresh perspectives on these subjects and considers the experience of library staff and library users as we navigate the ever-changing tech environment. From providing technology services during times of crisis, to considering the past and present context of library tech, to proposing a “better library tech future” with slow librarianship, LTI unites us in a shared dialogue.

Salwa Ismail, Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives and Information Technology, University of California, Berkeley

It’s always such a balancing act to reflect on a year-long cycle of library news and developments—the near past seems more relevant (talk about recency bias), and the distant past seems to blend in so much more. Howbeit, looking into the rearview mirror for 2023, one theme that emerged was that academic libraries evolve quickly to meet the changing needs of their users as the technology landscape changes ever so quickly, be it in AI or assessment, or data/digital literacy etc., and the libraries do so to enhance accessibility and user experience

In reading the various pieces that were published on LibTech Insights and other technological developments in 2023, while no one can debate the significant buzz and impact that generative AI tools and technologies such as ChatGPT, DALL·E 2, etc., generated, there were so many other threads and developments in library technologies and affiliated services, from the Google Lawsuit to Hachette v. Internet Archive, to digital and content accessibility and research and teaching in hybrid environments that were of equal, if not more in many cases, impact and significance. This pendulum of topics highlighted for me reflected the recognition that technology is playing an even more increasing and crucial role in information dissemination and access, and that libraries are fast adapting to these changing shifts in the landscape in an increasingly digital world.

One of the posts from LTI that made me especially chuckle in 2023, was titled “How to Make a Bad Web Form.” We live in a world of forms. From internal processes to external requests from our users, forms do make up an important part of our workflows, and reading this post, the way it humorously, in a tongue-in-cheek way underlined the design flaws that exist in some of the most basic, simple forms. In a very fun way, the author of the post talks about the things not to do by writing them as things that one should follow in designing forms—I would recommend this as a light, fun read, especially if you’re having one of those really trying days!

And finally it was energizing to see that libraries are utilizing digital technologies to not only transform their library systems to make services not only more seamless, accessible, and user-friendly, but also to provide value-added functionality to their core functions in a more user-focused environment.

Beth Sandore Namachchivaya, University Librarian, University of Waterloo

Well over two decades after their initial development, the sustained growth of community-supported digital libraries remains critically important to scholars globally. The HathiTrust Digital Library, which today consists of over 18 million volumes collectively curated by over 200 libraries, was established in 2008 by a partnership of libraries committed to collectively preserving and providing access to digitized print books and journals in the scholarly record. I am a member of the HathiTrust strategic visioning task force and the incoming chair of the HathiTrust Board of Governors. This past year, HathiTrust focused much of its work on strategic visioning for the future, engaging with its member libraries and related groups, facilitated by Athenaeum 21. The outcome of the strategic visioning work, expected in spring 2024, will serve as a foundation for HathiTrust’s development over the next 15 years. The HathiTrust Digital Library represents one of the most comprehensive digital collections of scholarly works that is maintained by libraries working together. This critically important work to advance digital access to the scholarly record sits at the nexus of libraries’ core mission and the application of technology.

🔥 Sign up for LibTech Insights (LTI) new post notifications and updates.

📅 Join us for a free webinar on AI citations and ethics for librarians.

✍️ Interested in contributing to LTI? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice with your topic idea.