Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Collection Management 2.0

Librarianship sometimes feel (and sound) as if it's in disarray. The library discourse is often fractured and fragmented with so many difference viewpoints. Perhaps this is a result of being in our postmodern information age. Bodi and Maier-O'Shea's The Library of Babel: Making Sense of Collection Management in a Postmodern World asserts that libraries have to invest in and prepare for a digital future while maintaining collections and services based on a predominantly print world.

How is it that we're in postmodern world of academic library collection management? Collections are no longer limited to a physical collection in one location; rather, they are a mixture of local and remote, paper and electronic. Hence, in their experimentations of collection development at two research and liberal arts college libraries, the authors realize that there should be three principles. We aren't reinventing the wheel here; but sometimes, amidst our heavy work days and busy lives, we often forget to step back to reassess how things can be done better. The authors offer an interesting viewpoint in this light:

(1) Break down assessment by subject or smaller sub-topics when necessary

(2) Blending of variety of assessment tools appropriate to the discipline

(3) Match print and electronic collections to departmental learning outcomes through communication with faculty members

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top 25 Web 2.0 Tools

Jessica Hupp from College Degree has written some insightful articles about information technology. 25 Useful Social Networking Tools for Librarians might be one of the best. She profiles 25 of the best Web 2.0 tools available that librarians should consider using for their professional work. I'm just going to introduce the list. I encourage you to read her actual entry.

1. Communication - Keep in touch with staff, patrons, and more with these tools








2. Distribution
- Tools make it easy to share information from anywhere




Second Life




Community Walk




Daft Doggy

3. Organization
- Keep all of your information handy and accessible with these tools







Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Googling Librarian

An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education popped up which once again highlighted the information (or lack of) needs of college students. It has been a recent phenomenon -- this argument and counter-arguments of the necessity of libraries and librarians in the face of Google-ization. For every viewpoint that the Internet has replaced the information services of libraries, there is the stance that users' are even more confused about information overload and the mess that is the Web.

I tend to agree with a what Dennis Dillon says in a new article, Google, Libraries, and Knowledge Management: From the Navajo to the National Security Agency. Libraries and the 'Net play are different entities: libraries play the library game, not the information game. Google is the same for everyone. It is not tailored for different user groups, and it does not change, as local users need shift. Google's very nature is different from that of libraries.

Here's the kicker folks: We could wake up tomorrow to the news that a banking conglomerate has purchased Google and intends to turn it into a private corporate information tool, and wants to convert the content to French. Although just a silly hypothetical situation, Dillon makes a good point that the nature of people and organizations such as Google are not playing the same games as libraries.

Perhaps this is what libraries with foresight such as McMaster University Libraries are doing. They're integrating new technologies to supplement and complement existing facilities. Before it's too late. I personally talk a great deal about emergent technologies, particularly Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web, but in the end, I believe that these are mere tools that facilitate for the growing organism of libraries. In the end, interior design is as every bit relevant to how users perceive the physical spaces of the library as Facebook's uses for increasing outreach to students. But put the two together: and we pack a powerful punch. Dillon leaves us with a freshly yet somewhat disconcerting commenting:
Libraries have become so enamoured of technology that we sometimes cannot see what is in front of our faces, which is that there are still people in our buildings and they are there for a reason.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Future of Digital Librarians

My colleague and mentor The Google Scholar discussed a bit about the Semantic Web and Web 2.0. Is it relevant to the profession of librarianship? Absolutely. How do we achieve it? Edie Rasmussen and Youngok Choi released a study in 2006 that surveys the skills that practitioners lack in What is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians. In this study, the two authors found that while many librarians are young and fresh out of graduate LIS school, they often lack the skills that are necessary for them to thrive in the increasingly digital world of libraries. LIS curricula are often limited to introductory classification and rudimentary information technology courses. There appears to be a real disjunct between the actual job descriptions that are required for newer positions and the actual skills that librarians receive in LIS school. Rasmussen and Choi's study finds that respondents are often frustrated over the "training gaps" during their studies for the following:

(1) Overall understanding of the complex interplay of software

(2) Lack of vocabulary to communicate to technical staff

(3) Knowledge of Web-related languages and technologies

(4) Web design

(5) Digital imaging and formatting

(6) Digital technology

(7) Programming and scripting languages

(8) XML standards and technologies

(9) Basic systems administration

In my own experience as an information professional, I find that these skills are sorely lacking in my own education. I'm finding it increasingly my own initiative to get caught up in the literature and the technologies. Who really has time to learn OAI-PMH metadata standards, XML, EAD, and TEI? Many librarians keep abreast of their field -- but on top of their current duties. But the problem remains that LIS schools do not to train technicians even though that is what they're doing - their mandate is to nurture scholars. Which I can understand. Yet, we can't fit a square peg into a circle. There lies the conundrum: something's got to give. But what? That has remained the intense tension in the field of LIS since its inception. With the advent of the Web and newer technologies, this gap will only widen.