09 March 2011


I've been thinking about the two events I attended last week in a bit more detail. One interesting thing which both brought home to me was that my research is definitely a project of two halves - librarians are interested in the collections aspect and social enterprise practitioners are enthusiastic about their field; being equally interested in both is my role. I think I need to take this into account as I work on a coffee break pitch for my project (I would say "elevator pitch" but being trapped in a confined space with me talking about my research isn't really something I'd wish on anyone...).

There's a related issue here, which is that in both social enterprise and specialist services related to data curation, professionals need to be able to speak different languages to different stakeholders. In data management, this may range from training students to engaging in very technical conversations about relevant systems; for social enterprises, this involves talking with customers, funders, the public and private sectors and with other social enterprises.

It's an important skill in other areas of librarianship, too - seeing it done well at an enquiry desk is very impressive - but perhaps sometimes our systems don't facilitate this as well as they could. For example, many libraries call interlending and document supply "interlibrary loans" (for historical reasons, or perhaps because this is what library management systems call the modules we use to administer the process) - even when most requests are satisfied with photocopies / electronic copies which the customer can keep. I'd be interested to know what you think about these issues of "different languages" in librarianship - or any examples.


  1. Ok, I'll take the bait!
    I think I understand SE - fairtrade/ Big Issue / etc; I certainly practice librarianship.
    How are YOU connecting them with collections thinking?
    Once I get that eureka moment I may be able to contribute/ask/badger you further!
    - Norman A Nonymouse

  2. Thanks for your comment! I think this is an important issue which I'll try to clarify in a separate post...