Keynote speakers

11th Southern African Online Information Meeting: Innovation in an Age of Limits

Stephen Abram
Spotting trends and opportunities: innovation in an age of limits 

Sharing is at the core of libraries and librarianship. Many worries are aimed at the changes we see in libraries’ stock – e-books, articles, serials, databases, buildings – the foundation of our service model. What if the major changes are really about what is happening in the sharing economy? How are recommendations changing? What will technological change do to the question economy?  Library folk are generally employed in social institutions – government, public libraries, schools, colleges and universities and yet our image is often hidden behind the shelves and stock.  Do the new and emerging collaborative, learning, and social tools change the very dynamic of the business model for libraries? What about social action? Can we ignore the power of tweets, wall postings and social networking to change the world, topple governments or influence public policy? And lastly, whither the serial as a social act of sharing knowledge, perspectives, and insights? The purpose of trend spotting is to get out in front of the changes and protect our role and value in society.  Stephen will explore these issues in this session.

About the presenter: Stephen Abram, MLS, is Past-President 2008 of SLA and the past-President of the Ontario and Canadian Library Associations. He received the 2011 CLA Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award in June. He is the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Markets for Cengage Learning (Gale). He was Vice President Innovation for SirsiDynix and Chief Strategist for the SirsiDynix Institute. He was Publisher Electronic Information at Thomson after managing several libraries. Stephen was listed by Library Journal as one of the top 50 people influencing the future of libraries. He has received numerous honours and speaks regularly internationally. His columns appear in Information Outlook and Internet @ Schools, OneSource, Feliciter, Access, as well writing for Library Journal. He is the author of ALA Editions’ bestselling Out Front with Stephen Abram. His blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse, is a popular blog in the library sector.

Stephen’s Lighthouse blog:
Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Plaxo: Stephen Abram
FourSquare: Stephen Abram
Twitter, Quora, Yelp, etc.: sabram
SlideShare: StephenAbram1


Michael Stephens
The hyperlinked library: trends, tools, transparency

What emerging trends are changing library services? What does a connected world of “continuous computing” mean for 21st Century libraries? This presentation provides a roadmap toward becoming the Hyperlinked Library: transparent, participatory, playful, user-centred and human, while still grounded in our foundations and values. How can we encourage the heart of our users?

About the presenter: After working fifteen years in public libraries, Dr. Michael Stephens is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University ( ).  His research focuses on the use of emerging technologies in libraries and technology learning programs.  He currently writes the monthly column “Office Hours” in Library Journal exploring issues, ideas and emerging trends in library and information science education.  Stephens has spoken about emerging technologies, innovation and libraries to audiences in over 26 states and in five countries, including a 2009 speaking/research tour of Australia.  His recent publications include two ALA Library Technology Reports on Web 2.0, two years of the monthly “Transparent Library” column with Michael Casey in Library Journal, and other articles about emerging trends and technology in various professional and scholarly journals.  He received an IMLS doctoral fellowship at the University of North Texas, was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker and received the 2009 Association of Library & Information Science Educators Faculty Innovation Award as well as a 2009 University of North Texas Rising Star Alumni Award.  He was the 2009 CAVAL Visiting Scholar, researching the effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian libraries.  Michael speaks nationally and internationally on libraries, technology, and innovation.  He is fascinated by library buildings and virtual spaces that centre around users, content, digital creation and encouraging the heart.

Twitter: mstephens7
Linked In:


Karen Blakeman
The future of search: localisation, personalisation and socialisation

It has been many years since web search results were simply based on how often our search terms occurred in a document and where. In 1998 Google added another dimension by including links to a page as a key element of their sorting algorithms. Bing now claims to have 1000 ranking “signals” and Google 200, each of which may have up to 50 variations, but these are now overridden by localisation, personalisation and the searcher’s own social networks. Google has openly stated that it is combining information on a user’s behaviour on all of its services to provide “a better, more intuitive user experience across Google for signed-in users”. Add to this mix the fact that people are increasingly asking their questions on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and (possibly) Google+. What impact does this have for those of us who require in depth, comprehensive and unbiased results? Is customisation always a bad thing and what strategies do we need to adopt in this rapidly changing world of search?

About the presenter: Karen Blakeman started her working life with a degree in microbiology but was soon enticed into the world of electronic information. Prior to setting up her own company she worked for two years as a microbiologist and then spent ten years in the pharmaceutical and health care industry as an information scientist. She moved to the international management consultancy group Strategic Planning Associates before becoming a freelance consultant in 1989. She now provides help and advice on Internet search, social media and collaborative web tools. Her clients include all sectors, types and sizes of organisation and she takes a very down to earth approach to locating and managing information. Karen edits and publishes a monthly, electronic newsletter called Tales from the Terminal Room and her blog can be found at She is an Honorary Fellow of CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP). In 2002 she received the Information World Review Information Professional of the Year award.