Blockchain (Library Futures Series, Book 3)

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ALA Neal-Schuman
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A, C, I


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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors

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Series Editor: Miguel A. Figueroa, Director, Center for the Future of Libraries

This book in the Library Futures Series examines blockchain technology, a concept with far-reaching implications for the future of recordkeeping. Blockchain uses a distributed database (multiple devices not connected to a common processor) that organizes data into records (blocks) that have cryptographic validation. The data are timestamped and linked to previous records so that they can only be changed by those who own the encryption keys to write to the files. Firms like Microsoft and IBM are already exploring ways that blockchain can more securely handle valuable transaction data. And Sony is harnessing blockchain to store educational information (registration documents, attendance, grades, and even the lesson plans that previous teachers have used) that can easily be transferred between schools as students move or graduate. In this book, technology experts and editors Hirsh and Alman build on their ongoing research to discuss how blockchain’s potential use as a convenient system for recordkeeping could lead to more government documents, historical records, and other pieces of information migrating to such a system. They and their contributors also examine its possible consequences for academic, public, school, and special libraries, as well as the information professionals who sustain those institutions, making this book a valuable primer for everyone interested in the future of librarianship.

Learn more about the Library Futures series, presented by ALA Neal-Schuman in partnership with the ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries.

Foreword by Miguel A. Figueroa
Introduction: An Investigation of Blockchain Applications: Beginnings and Implications Sandra Hirsh and Susan Alman

Understanding Blockchain

  • From Medieval Origins to Modern Applications, Christina Cornejo and Stacey Johnson
  • Blockchain and Decentralization: Big-Picture Opportunities and Risks, Jason Griffey
  • Blockchain: Merits, Issues, and Challenges, Bohyun Kim

Before the Hype

  • Standards, Todd A. Carpenter
  • Legal Considerations, Dan Blackaby
  • Security, Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca
  • Healthy Skepticism, Toby Greenwalt

For the Future: Speculative Applications

  • Support for Scholarship and Scholarly Communications, MacKenzie Smith
  • Credentialing and Continuing Education, Heather McMorrow and Amy Jiang
  • Distributed Access to Library Metadata, Timothy A. Thompson
  • Data Collection and Assessment, Annie Norman
  • Lessons from Health Information Management, Victoria Lemieux
  • Electronic Health Records, Frank Cervone
  • Born-Digital and Digital-First Content, John Bracken and Michael Della Bitta
  • Community-Based Collections, M. Ryan Hess

For the Present

  • Blockchain Education for Communities, Link Swanson

Selected Resources
About the Editors

Sandra Hirsh

Dr. Sandra Hirsh is director and professor of the School of Information at San José State University. She is a past-president of ASIS&T and is the president-elect of ALISE. Her research interests include information seeking behavior, online education, and LIS education, and she was the co-PI of the IMLS-funded blockchain investigation. She cofounded and cochairs the global virtual Library 2.0 conference series.

Susan Alman

Dr. Susan Alman is a member of the San José State University School of Information faculty. Prior to this appointment, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences and the University of Michigan. She was the co-PI in the IMLS-funded project, Investigation of Possible Uses of Blockchain Technology. Her areas of interest are in online teaching and learning, foresight studies and emerging technologies, marketing/PR, and interpersonal communication.

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