I treat myself to Asimov’s “Foundation” once again today. It is one of the books that I have been re-reading all my life and always find something astonishing. Today, this passage jumped at me:
“The Empire will vanish, and all its good with it. Its accumulated knowledge will decay and the order it has imposed will vanish. A Second Empire will rise, but between it and our civilization will be one thousand generations of suffering humanity. We must fight that. – How do you propose to do this? – By saving the knowledge of the race… my thirty thousand men with their wives and children are devoting themselves to the preparation of an Encyclopedia Galactica. They will not complete it in their lifetimes. I will not even live to see it fairly begun. But by the time the Empire falls, it will be complete and copies will be exist in every major library in the Galaxy.”
Which brings a lot of questions to my mind… Would librarians facilitate this process? And what is the knowledge of the race, what’s its nature and where does knowledge lie? Is it in books that take a few years from the inception of an idea to print and distribution, or the journal articles that get published much quicker? Or is this type of knowledge already dead by the time it gets published and the only live and current knowledge really exists in our heads and we talk and think it minute by minute, second by second. How to capture this knowledge and record it? Give the free tools to thirty thousand men with their wives and children who will devote themselves to the preparation of an Encyclopedia Galactica….
Someone just made me aware of the following infographic on wikipedia and I thought I would share it here. I found it quite interesting. Especially the part that compares wikipediawith college textbooks and other learning materials. In the past librarians have really been against wikipedia. However, it seems that maybe it’s not so bad after all?
Thomas Frey, the renowned futuristic speaker and Senior Futurist at DaVinci Institute, a non-profit futurist think tank in Colorado, writes again about the future of libraries. Click here to check it out! And here is the link to his other thought provoking library related opinions and speeches expressed on behalf of the DaVinci Institute.
Filed under Future, media
I came across the new Standards for Libraries in Higher Education (SLHE) drastically revised by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Board of Directors this past October. The new standards aim to provide a roadmap that will assist academic libraries in responding effectively to the growing pressure to demonstrate their value through evidence based means.
“These standards differ from previous version[last revised in 2004] by articulating expectations for library contributions to institutional effectiveness […] They also differ structurally from the previous version by providing a comprehensive framework using an outcomes-based approach, with evidence collected in ways most appropriate for each institution.” – said University of Nevada-Las Vegas Dean of University Libraries Patricia Iannuzzi, who chaired the SLHE task force. They are based on the following nine principles:
Institutional Effectiveness: Libraries define, develop, and measure outcomes that contribute to institutional effectiveness and apply findings for purposes of continuous improvement.
Professional Values: Libraries advance professional values of intellectual freedom, intellectual property rights and values, user privacy and confidentiality, collaboration, and user-centered service.
Educational Role: Libraries partner in the educational mission of the institution to develop and support information-literate learners who can discover, access, and use information effectively for academic success, research, and lifelong learning.
Discovery: Libraries enable users to discover information in all formats through effective use of technology and organization of knowledge.
Collections: Libraries provide access to collections sufficient in quality, depth, diversity, format, and currency to support the research and teaching missions of the institution.
Space: Libraries are the intellectual commons where users interact with ideas in both physical and virtual environments to expand learning and facilitate the creation of new knowledge.
Management/Administration: Libraries engage in continuous planning and assessment to inform resource allocation and to meet their mission effectively and efficiently.
Personnel: Libraries provide sufficient number and quality of personnel to ensure excellence and to function successfully in an environment of continuous change.
External Relations: Libraries engage the campus and broader community through multiple strategies in order to advocate, educate, and promote their value. (See the document to read more).
Librarians and marketers have not been traditionally good bedfellows. In the library world marketing is viewed as at best flamboyant add-on and not core to the real and important work of information management; at its worse it is associated with the tricks of a salesman selling to people things that they do not need. Academic librarians especially do not have a good record of marketing their services. This stems from the traditional view that in the academia libraries have captive audiences: “the students need to use the library to get their degree, right?” Wrong. Now it is much easier to get that degree than it was when many of were students and the information, admittedly sometimes of dubious quality, is nevertheless available everywhere.
I strongly believe in the urgent need to market library collections and services within the parent organizations, including academic institutions. I believe that this is necessary in the digital world in order to ensure the survival and growth of the libraries and information services. It should be coming from a strong conviction that libraries exist to enhance the communities they serve, adding value to the lives of the people and organizations who are their users. Librarians need to realize that marketing has to do with informing and helping, rather than selling. The difference between marketing and selling is more than semantic. Selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer, customer, library user. Much needs to be done in the academic library sector to embrace these ideas.
I recently became involved accidentally in marketing our library resources by creating these simple pamphlets: Find Yourself at the Library Quick Guide to Print Collections Electronic Resources Intro in response to the need for information about the services we offer repeatedly expressed by our library patrons at the library main service desk. These pamphlets originated as lists of services our library offers that I prepared for our newly-hired part-time library assistants to help them learn quickly about our library resources. But as I was putting these lists together, I realized how much our library actually has to offer. I was discovering things that I didn’t know we had and services I didn’t know my colleagues were providing. I was very proud of our library and I was proudly informing our patrons about how they can enrich themselves with these resources. I was not selling – I was providing information.