25 June 2012

LIDA 2012: part two

Tuesday's sessions began with a talk by Eileen G. Abels "Change: Opportunity or Threat for Reference Services in the Digital Age". This began with the classic quotation attributed to Asimov "the only constant is change" accompanied by some illustrations of changes taking place in the shift to digital. The key questions posed by this talk were how libraries can find new ways of doing new things, as well as new ways of doing old things (such as equipping roving librarians with iPads to provide connected and cool reference services, or using QuestionPoint consortial aproaches to provide local, regional and international services), and how libraries can look to lead in this time of transformation, rather than just following in the slipstream of change. There were some really pertinent, challenging ideas - I was particularly interested in the quotations from Brian Mathews (2012) Facing the future: We don't just need change, we need breakthrough, paradigm-shifting, transformative, disruptive ideas - a paper which went straight onto my reading list. The paper concluded with some helpful tips on identifying opportunities for new services and on dealing with change.

Later in the morning Tian Xiao Zhang delivered a paper on the experiences of St John's University Libraries (New York) in using Pay Per View article purchasing. Crucially, it could provide a way to "unbundle the big deal", although the presentation also described some major potential drawbacks, including limited user controls and a shift in responsibility for policiing potential misuse of content from the publisher to the library. This contrast was borne out by two statistics in particular - 592 articles within the trial period were downloaded from previously non-subscribed publications, suggesting improved access to content for customers, but more than a quarter of downloads were made by a handful of people systematically downloading materials.

This was followed by Bob Pymm's presentation which posed the question "E-books, e-audio and public libraries: is it lift off or steady as she goes?". This was the first paper I had attended to focus on public libraries, based on a study of e-book and e-audio use in the public library system of Canberra, Australia. The paper suggested a period of "slow evolution, not revolution" in e-format use in public libraries - without quite the sort of scale of shift occuring which e-book publishers may be suggesting. In the system studied, the emphasis seemed to fall on providing access to content (e-books as files for download) rather than hardware (circulating e-book readers), and readers seemed to favour e-content (both e-books and e-audio) similar to the most popular types of printed content, particularly fiction. One particularly interesting point for me was the observation about the potential opportunities for libraries to use e-formats to record and preserve user-generated content, engaging local communities by being able to "collect their stories literally".

During the lunch break, I went on a tour of the Zadar City Library (pictured above, with some more photos of inside available at the City Library's website). I found the library really impressive. It opened in 1999 and features included an extensive programme of cultural and educational events and a Kinect / Xbox system, set up for customers to use - younger ones playing games and older users finding it a great way to keep fit! It also had some very well-designed and creative publicity material. However, one major drawback seemed to be its charges for full library membership (with borrowing rights) - even though the charge is relatively low.

In the afternoon, presentations included Roswitha Poll's summary of progress in revising the ISO standards for library services. Ann-Louise de Boer gave a presentation on leadership traits, skills and competencies for librarians in the digital age. I found the analysis of the potential gap between current skills distribution and recommended skills areas for development (including visionary leadership) particularly interesting. The day closed with a panel session, discussing whether research can help education in digitial libraries. Key points included questioning whether the LIS curricula provide the skills needed to curate new materials (including research data), emphasising the multidisciplinary nature of digital librarianship, suggesting the importance of reviewing the digital repository process and providing opportunities for researcher and student publishing. Lynn Silipigni Connaway emphasised the need for libraries to be proactive and to define their users clearly. Christine Borgman also emphasised the importance of understanding the networked nature of the research process and the need for librarians to be involved in research from the data creation stage onwards and Marie Radford suggested that the librarian has a dual role - both educator and researcher. This led to discussion of some big questions about the nature of the LIS core curriculum and the need to avoid becoming preoccupied with inward-looking discussions if librarians really want to shape "the new information infrastructure".

No comments:

Post a Comment