Bringing the Open Library to SXSW

As an update to my post about “Collaborative Cataloging,” I’m pleased to say that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has proposed a panel discussion for the 2008 SXSW Interactive conference in Austin. Here’s our proposal:

Why Do We Need Libraries Anyway?

On June 25, 2007, California recognized the Internet Archive as an official library. As digital resources become a formal part of our civic structure we ask: How are physical and virtual libraries used, what are the emotional connotations of being a library, and what do we do with librarians?

Our perceptions of libraries and librarians are often based in childhood nostalgia or media stereotypes (The Music Man’s Marian the Librarian, Hogwart’s Madam Pince, Noah Wyle’s Flynn Carsen, “The Librarian”), but today’s library is as much about bytes as about books. Come join us for a discussion about the future of libraries and information generally in a networked world!

We have lined up speakers Aaron Schwartz (Raw Thought blog), leader of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries project, and Lorcan Demsey (blog), Vice President for Research and Chief Strategist for OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center, home of WorldCat, to offer their thoughts on libraries, both physical and virtual, and on the services that librarians provide. The panel will be moderated by Danielle Cunniff Plumer (The Darchivist), coordinator of the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and project manager of Texas Heritage Online.

If this sounds like a fun program (and it will be!), be sure to vote for it on SXSW Interactive’s Panel Picker.


I am an independent digital collections and library technology consultant in Austin, TX.

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