As fascinating as many of the Futures Conference programs were, I was struck by an activity conducted by Joan Frye Williams during her “What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There” session, during which she asked participants to develop a list of practices and activities that should be stopped, and forever rest in peace. The items on the resulting collective list reflect almost every aspect of library operations. Following is a sampling of R.I.P. activities on the list.

Creating a rule to solve every problem
Stop prohibiting coffee in the building
Stop listening to staff first when they try to hold on to old ways that preserve the status quo.
Stop doing brochures and flyers that the civilians cannot understand.
Stop top down approval for every little or big good idea that staff suggests.
Stop charging fines.
Stop maintaining the service desk as a barrier to service.
Stop using ‘Library’ words with the public.
Stop collecting popular materials for our collection.
Stop having high level librarians sit idle at the reference desk.
Depart from “it’s always been done that way”, encourage others to do the same.
Stop controlling staff Wiki content.
Stop expecting perfect records in OPAC.
Stop obsessing over library processes and structures.
Stop assuming we know the customer.
Stop cataloging to the 11th degree.
Stop hiding behind my desk and greet customers.
Stop departmentalizing…”that’s ref’s job, that’s circ’s job” It’s everyone’s job!

What are your potential R.I.P. activities?

To view the entire list, visit the Mid-Atlantic Futures Conference Website.



Ray Kurzweil having lunch with President Mikhail Gorbachev on April 12, 2005 at
the Massachusetts Software Council annual meeting (Ray is on the MSC Board of Trustees).
Credit: Courtesy of Kurzweil Technologies, Inc.

“Ray walked on stage, played a composition on an old upright piano, and then whispered to I’ve Got a Secret host Steve Allen “I built my own computer”.

“Well that’s impressive,” Steve Allen replied, “but what does that have to do with the piece you just played?” Ray then whispered the rest of his secret: “The computer composed the piece I just played.” During the yes or no questions, former Miss America Bess Myerson was stumped, but film star Henry Morgan, the second celebrity panelist, guessed Ray’s secret.

This high school project was Ray Kurzweil’s first endeavor in the field of “pattern recognition,” which Ray describes as “that part of the AI field where we teach computers to recognize abstract patterns, a capability that dominates human thinking.


Look closely at the man to the right…. isn’t that Bill Gates listening to Ray? Yes, this photo was taken of Ray when he was invited to speak at Microsoft’s CEO Summit in Seattle on May 20, 2004. The event is Microsoft’s yearly prestigious conference for business leaders from around the world and is known as the CEO Summit, a strictly A-list affair, and most top corporate CEOs relish the opportunity to go and “dialog” with fellow captains of industry. We are really excited that Ray will also be our keynote speaker for our Future’s Conference.