Category Archives: Leadership

Top trends in academic libraries

Creating the future for librariesI’ve just re-read the top 10 trends for academic libraries identified by the ACRL  Research Planning and Review Committee and published in: June 2012 College & Research Libraries News vol. 73 no. 6 311-320.

This document is the framework for the just released 2013 ACRL Environmental Scan.  It is interesting to compare these two to see how the focus is changing.

For those who missed it or don’t have access to the archives of ACRL News, I’ve summarized below  the top trends from the report (Please note that these top trends are not listed in order of importance but alphabetically):

 Communicating value
Academic libraries must prove the value they provide to the academic enterprise.  Librarians must be able to convert the general feelings of goodwill towards the library to effective communication to all stakeholders that clearly articulate its value to the academic community.
Data curation
Data curation challenges are increasing as standards for all types of data continue to evolve; more repositories, many of them cloud-based, has to emerge; librarians and other information workers need to collaborate with their research communities to facilitate this process.
Digital preservation
As digital collections mature, concerns grow about the general lack of long-term planning for their preservation. Local digital collections are at risk when the individual institution lacks a comprehensive preservation plan.
Higher education
Higher education institutions are entering a period of flux, and potentially even turmoil. Trends to watch for are the rise of online instruction and degree programs, globalization, and an increased skepticism of the “return on investment” in a college degree.
Information technology
Technology continues to drive much of the futuristic thinking within academic libraries. The key trends driving educational technology are equally applicable to academic libraries: people’s desire for information and access to social media and networks anytime/anywhere; acceptance and adoption of cloud-based technologies; more value placed on collaboration; ; and a new emphasis on challenge-based and active learning.
Mobile environments
Mobile devices are changing the way information is delivered and accessed. An increasing number of libraries provide services and content delivery to mobile devices.
Patron driven e-book acquisition
Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) of e-books is poised to become the norm. For this to occur, licensing options and models for library lending of e-books must become more sustainable.  PDA is  an inevitable trend for libraries under pressure to prove that their expenditures are in line with their value.
Scholarly communication
New scholarly communication and publishing models are developing at an ever-faster pace, requiring libraries to be actively involved or be left behind.
Staffing
Academic libraries must develop the staff needed to meet new challenges through creative approaches to hiring new personnel and deploying or retraining existing staff.
User behaviors and expectations
Convenience affects all aspects of information seeking—the selection, accessibility, and use of sources. Libraries usually are not the first source for finding information. When queried, respondents describe the library as “hard to use,” “the last resort,” and “inconvenient.”
 

The ACRL asks the community for feedback and provides a venue to get involved and contribute to the ongoing discussion on the trends in academic libraries by participating in  OnPoint Discussion atwww.ala.org/acrl/conferences/onpoint.

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Libraries of the future

The following visualization was adapted from PewInternet.com, of a keynote address for the 2013 State University of New York Librarians Association Annual Conference.

librarians of the future

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Big Data Meets the Bards and the Profs

There is an interesting discussion going on right now on big data and how it is used in academia. I found Dave Feinleib’s of Forbers magazine visualization of landscape of Big Data an interesting point of reference from the technological side of the spectrum. Big data

In the other hand, John Sunyer’s lengthy review, “Big data meets the Bard”, in the Financial Times for 15 June, http://tinyurl.com/mzrjwll presents the  point of view of acadmics who are proponents of using digital data in humanities.  It is based on Sunyer’s interviews with Franco Moretti, Matt Jockers and Melissa Terras.  Franco Moretti is perhaps the most known for his push to digitize and use digital texts in humanities.  I hope some of it may be useful as an argument for Open Access at your universities.

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An interesting opinion piece on Open Access and the Humanities

Times Higher EducationThe latest issue of Times Higher Education contains an opinion piece  entitled
“Green open access can work for Humanities”  by Gabriel Egan, director of the
Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University, arguing that “the move to open access is desirable and inevitable for the arts as well as the sciences”.  By “the arts” he means, in accord with the British usage, what most of us would call “the humanities”, in general. You can access it here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/green-open-access-can-work-for-the-humanities/2004323.article

This is not an unusually radical or visionary in formulation article, but a very strong and well argued plea, and one whose appearance academic librarians might want to take note of.

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The digital divide argument

      I was going to meet  my daughter  for a cup of coffee  at Tim Horton’s on on my  lunch break.  I was late because, unexpectedly,  at the last minute, I had to assist a frustrated patron trying to check the Internet with his laptop at our library.
        The academic  library where I work does  not offer wifi access to anyone but the university students  and it takes anywhere between 5-10 minutes for a person walking into our library to play with the wires attached to the registration computer before they can scan their ID and get a daily pass that allows them to access the Internet on one of two computer stations that are open to the public.  Trying to get the computer pass is always a frustrating experience.  After several years of assisting people with using this machine, I still have no clue what is the best way to scan the personal ID, so it would cooperate and issue the pass.
       When I was paying for my coffee at the counter at Tim’s,  I spotted the sign advertising free Internet access.   They partnered with Bell to do it in order to bring in more customers and level with competitors, such as Second Cup, that already offer wifi.   I should have sent my patron to Tim Hortons …  Yes, they would get the Internet access quickly there and it is a 5 minute walk  from my library… They could get a cup of coffee too…. They could search the Internet and drink coffee in a public space…  My patron would do better at Tim’s… and they should, and justly so, be called Tim Horton’s patrons, not mine….
      Most libraries would not allow people bring Tim Horton’s coffee into the library,  nor would they allow a coffee shop inside the library….  At the same time, libraries claim to be the institutions that help to close the digital divide by providing the Internet access to those who cannot afford it.   Coffee shops are closing it while we use this argument and develop our collections….

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QRs and collection marketing…. retail style

Recently, while researching QR technology, I came across a piece that discussed its use in retail.  The author used the video below that shows how a South Korean retail store, Tesco, have adapted their services in order to reach their goal of increasing their market share without having to increase the number of stores. They created “virtual” stores in subway stations, and other high traffic areas and provided QR under the picture and price of each item.  People waiting for subway are looking on the pictures and can add items to their shopping carts by scanning QR codes with their smart phones, and then the items purchased are delivered to their homes.  Here is the video:

Now, think about the QRs and their potential for marketing library collections …..   I can see libraries creating “virtual” displays where a graphic presentation of a book is accompanied with a QR code that can provide detailed and precise  book information.   People could view such thematic displays of books and snap a picture of the QR code with their iphones.  Public libraries could even create “virtual” branches on subway platforms, bus stops, etc. where people could browse the collections while waiting for a train or bus and having them delivered either to their ebook reader or home.

The link between QRs and libraries is obvious.  The basic principle behind this technology is the same as behind library barcodes.  Think about the checkout computer at the library. It scans a barcode and the item scanned is added to a list. The command – namely, “add this item to the list is built into the design of the barcode and is decoded by the library system. Similarly, QR codes can be scanned with a device which will then carry out the action built into the code.   What’s left is for the library to do is to create a system where these codes can be decoded and the library action carried on (i.e. send this book on hold).

I work at a library where we provide InfoExpress service for our faculty.  The way it works is that the faculty members  e-mail the library staff responsible for this service the title, the author and publication details of the resource they need, and the library staff retrieve or sometimes obtain the materials from other locations and deliver them to the profs.  This is a very popular service.  Imagine it paired with QRs… Imagine always getting the correct citation, imagine how easy it would be for the faculty to order these books without having to type the bibliographic information….  Then imagine promoting the collections using QR coding, imagine that all the incoming new books could be “displayed” this way in high traffic areas while the physical copies would circulate…., or imagine creating thematic book displays in the faculty hallways and classrooms….  Imagine embedding the library in a very real way into every research or project by creating “virtual” thematic displays equipped with codes….  Imagine….

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Battle for the the Internet

The (British) Guardian has just published an interesting investigation into the several attempts to control the Internet – see it at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/battle-for-the-internet.

To me this is investigation is the perfect case for the libraries as it shows that the decentralized design of the Internet can be tamed by the commercial powers of the few. This indicates clearly that that the Internet even at this early stage is not a safe storage for all the human knowledge, as many enthusiasts claim, but that there is a vital need to have the records of our culture stored in various formats in multiple decentralized locations.  If  we fail to convince now the people around us that such places that are publicly funded and provide free access to knowledge and information are still necessary, the Fahrenheit 451 scenario is not too far removed from reality.   Indeed, it is a huge professional responsibility on all of us to prove through our work and inventiveness that libraries are the institutions that can fulfill this mission.

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