Information technology, gadgets, social media, libraries, design, marketing, higher ed, data visualization, educational technology, mobility, innovation, strategy, trends and futures. . . 

Posts suspended for a bit while I settle into a new job. . . 

Entries in Libraries (6)


Library Leaders on Library Directions

The folks at ". . . ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways," through Ithaka S+R, its strategic consulting and research service, have published a report about what's on the minds of academic library directors. 

From the report's preface (emphasis mine): 

Today’s academic libraries are experiencing broad challenges and opportunities alike. Local print collections are losing primacy as remotely accessed online resources increase in importance, new discovery services have changed the library’s role as a gateway, and the introduction of computational research methods has yielded demand for innovative and customized services and relationships. Academic libraries’ parent organizations, the colleges and universities, are grappling with their roles and responsibilities as online and hybrid pedagogies continue to develop and cost-of-education sensitivity yields growing scrutiny about the outcomes of their educational offerings. Amid these environmental changes, library leaders are being called upon to assert the value of their organizations while developing services and strategies that will offer sustained value. Against this backdrop, Ithaka S+R’s US Library Survey tracks the strategic direction and leadership dynamics of academic library leaders. Our purposes are to understand the strategies they are pursuing and the opportunities and constraints that they face, and also to compare their attitudes on key services against those of other campus stakeholders such as faculty members. In the previous 2010 survey cycle, we examined strategy, collecting, and services. For the 2013 survey, we worked with an advisory board that included librarians, a consortial leader, and a university leader to further develop the questionnaire, retaining key issues from 2010 while introducing a new emphasis on organizational dynamics, leadership issues, and undergraduate services.

The report includes a three-page Executive Summary that captures findings around vision and strategy, organizational leadership and constraints, collections and formats, budget and staff, and undergraduates and information literacy. The full report (60 pages) is available here: Download Report.



Digital Humanities and Libraries

OCLC was established in the mid-60s as the Ohio College Library Center, a non-profit, cooperative "bibliographic utility" intended to create a computerized network for Ohio libraries. Now the Online Computer Library Center, Inc., (but more commonly known, still, as OCLC), it has grown to have over 72,000 member libraries, archives, and museums. OCLC Research's mission is to ". . .  expand knowledge that advances OCLC's public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing library costs. Since 1978, we have carried out research and made technological advances that enhance the value of library services and improve the productivity of librarians and library users." 

OCLC Research has popped up with a report about research libraries support of digital humanities, which is a construct of the intersection of humanities education and research and scholarship with computing and information technology. (Text mining is the canonical example of digital humanities.) Many research libraries are trying to identify their responsibilities and opportunities in this emerging area.

Schaffner, Jennifer, and Ricky Erway. 2014. Does Every Research Library Need a Digital 
Humanities Center? Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

The report is just 18 pages long, and a worthwhile read. Here is the executive summary: 

There are many ways to respond to the needs of digital humanists, and a digital humanities (DH) center is appropriate in relatively few circumstances. Library leadership can choose from a range of possible directions:

  • package existing services as a “virtual DH center” 
  • advocate coordinated DH support across the institution 
  • help scholars plan for preservation needs 
  • extend the institutional repository to accommodate DH digital objects 
  • work internationally to spur co-investment in DH across institutions 
  • create avenues for scholarly use and enhancement of metadata 
  • consult DH scholars at the beginning of digitization projects 
  • get involved in DH project planning for sustainability from the beginning 
  • commit to a DH center 

A DH center does not always meet the needs of DH researchers. When warranted, a DH center is not necessarily best located in the library. Library culture may need to evolve in order for librarians to be seen as effective DH partners. A handful of models demonstrate successful collaborations with digital humanists, but one size does not fit all. 

In most settings, the best decision is to observe what the DH academics are already doing and then set out to address gaps. 


Libraries: Five Futures

I haven't come across John Farrier previously in my information-gathering; here, in this piece in Neatorama (of all places), he writes about five quite actual possibilities in libraries' futures -- 

  1. Patron-driven acquistion 
  2. Discovery portals 
  3. 3-D printing and makerspaces. This is not as great a stretch as it might seem; libraries have always been places for enabling user innovation. 
  4. Embedded librarianship 
  5. More of what we're doing now. This is so true; as Farrier writes, 

We librarians are used to an established genre of journalism that may be called “the end of libraries.” It’s an article (example) usually written by a wealthy, technologically sophisticated person who proclaims that the end of libraries (public, school, academic) is nigh.

Here’s what the futurists are missing: they possess the latest mobile devices and sophisticated computer skills. But most people don’t. The futurists project themselves as typical library patrons. But there are a vast number of people with very limited computer skills or computer access. And don’t assume that it’s confined to older people. College students usually prefer print books to e-books. I routinely encounter 18-year olds who don’t know how to access the internet or use email. The digital divide remains huge and will continue to provide a market for libraries.

What’s worse is that these futurists and skeptics often overestimate their own information access capabilities. They think that because they can connect to the World Wide Web, they have access to most of the information in the world—a belief that is not only wrong, but spectacularly wrong. As Will Rogers (allegedly) said, “It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.”

Both of these problems point to a need for libraries—or, more to the point—librarians. There’s a gap between information that is available and the skills of people who want to access that information. Thus there is a need for people who can teach others how to cross that gap. And because technology changes, there will always be such a gap and thus always a future of libraries.

This is what libraries have done in the past, are doing now, and will continue to do in the future.

Full article here:

5 Futures for Libraries

John Farrier • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 5:00 AM 

We’ve seen e-readers and libraries without print books. But beyond the obvious proliferation of e-books and fully online information sources, what might we see in the future of libraries? Here are five possibilities.


"Kindness Audit" (Library Usability)

From Joe Hardenbrook in his blog, Mr. Library Dude ("I'm a librarian. I'm a dude. Mr. Library Dude. Blogging about libraries, technology & teaching.") -- he writes about a MOOC taught by Michael Stephens and specifically that module that discussed a "kindness audit" -- 

Examining Library Spaces through a “Kindness Audit”

October 17, 2013

Have you ever considered doing a “kindness audit” at your library?

Old signage: Outdated terminology such as “bibliographic instruction.” Art slides have been removed from the library.

In the HyperlibMOOC class, Michael Stephens discusses the concept of a “kindness audit” – look at your library space and examine how kind it is for your patrons.

  • Is the signage positive?
  • Are your service desks welcoming?
  • Can users find their way easily?
  • What obstacles do your users encounter? 

I did a walk through of my library and tried to experience it from someone who has never set foot in the doors.

First a little bit about my library:

Article continues at link (with photos). 

It's worth walking around your library facility and very purposefully looking at it with fresh eyes -- particularly if you're very familiar with the space; after a while you can get inured to the messages your facility sends to your customers. 



Academic Library of the Future

What could the library of the future look like?

In Library Journal, an article about North Carolina State University's new Hunt Library --  based on this and comments from folks who have toured it, a stunning model of an academic library and learning center of the future. 

Tomorrow, Visualized | Library by Design

By Meredith Schwartz on September 18, 2013

As I got ready to tour the James B. Hunt Jr. ­Library at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, last spring, as part of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) meeting held nearby, the buzz about the newly unveiled building had reached such a level that I expected to find it, however cool, overhyped.

It wasn’t. It was exactly the right amount of hyped.

“Every corner of the Hunt Library is designed to be memorable and stunning,” the library’s vision claims. Grandiose as that might sound, those corners deliver.

In an era in which many libraries even at great institutions are struggling to do enough with less, it’s refreshing to see a university able and willing to invest in the library as both the symbolic and the operational core of the institution. The project was funded by $115.2 million in state appropriations, plus donor support.


The vision for the Hunt Library is ambitious in the extreme: to “create spaces that encourage collaboration, reflection, creativity, and awe” and “to be a place not of the past but of the future.” The university made such an investment because it feels the library will be a competitive advantage. “A signature library,” Susan K. Nutter, vice provost and director of the NCSU Libraries and the 2005 LJ Librarian of the Year, explains “would help us recruit the very best students and the very best faculty and to serve the community as an inspiring place of excellence and passion and ideas and vision….  You cannot be in this building without realizing that something very important is happening at this university.”

“This building was designed from the start to be an icon, a dramatic representation of how transformational technology and a commitment to the growth of our community will thrust [NCSU] even further into the foreground,” said Chancellor W. Randolph Woodson when the library officially opened in April.

The library is indeed iconic and anchors the universities’ new Centennial campus. One of the ways it does so is in the thoughtful integration of technology. For all that the Hunt features cutting-edge technology deeply baked into its design, it never gives the impression that any piece of tech is there only because it can be. Each piece has been thought through to serve a present user need, as well as to adapt to changing needs of the future.

“Much of the design strategy behind the [library] was to pour our resources into the sorts of spaces and technologies that support NC State’s reputation for producing students and researchers who live easily and naturally with technology and learn through collaboration,” explains David Hiscoe, director of communications strategy for the NCSU Libraries.

Article continues at link. 

NCSU's photo and video collection here