Libraries as adjuncts

Academic libraries are becoming more than adjuncts to their home institutions with the increase of interdisciplinary research institutes, but that essential role, as adjuncts, is still at the core of everything we do. It also reminds me that I need to read WBT’s book.

“Because academic libraries are adjuncts to the institutions they serve, philosophizing about libraries is also philosophizing about higher education, specifically about the origin and purpose of research universities and the effect they have had on higher education and academic libraries […] Academic librarians are trying to support a scholarly mission to create better human beings and a better society through the creation of knowledge in all areas. That’s why we do what we do. There are worse jobs to have.”

Source: Library Journal

On habits, William James

Still waiting to wake up. Until then, I cling to my many habits.

“Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working-day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. Silently, between all the details of his business, the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within him as a possession that will never pass away.”

Source: Brain Pickings

Yay! I submitted the details for the ACRL New Members Discussion Group Midwinter panel to the scheduler site. I love conference pre-planning.

Library War

Toshokan Sensō (図書館戦争, lit. Library War) is a Japanese light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, with illustrations by Sukumo Adabana. The background of the plot is based on the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries that went into effect in Japan in 1954 (amended in 1979), and the terms are a little different from the Freedom of the Library Law that appears in Toshokan Sensō.

Source: Wikipedia

A post-OPACalyptic world?

As I’ve been preparing for a sojourn abroad (first vacation in four years!), I’ve been frantically trying to wrap up the loose ends of various projects. One of those is writing a review a Cooperative Cataloging: Shared Effort for the Benefit of All by Rebecca L. Mugridge (ed.). The final section of the collection contains an essay by Roxanne Sellberg of Northwestern University entitled “Cooperative Cataloging in a Post-OPAC World” where she posits a future when “most libraries do not maintain separate, highly redundant databases of metadata records designed to support both backroom processes and library-specific online public access catalogs.”

Sellberg’s article focuses on the role of cooperative cataloging and so she goes on to outline the various ways in which cooperative cataloging can still take place, but what I found intriguing was how a lack of an OPAC would affect the character of our institutions. Even as a cataloger, I find the idea… enticing.

    • Imagine if we spent less time editing records and more time editing the presentation of those records (via APIs that bring in data from various centralized data sources).
    • Imagine if we built our own discovery layers that reflected the subject strengths of our home institutions, tweaked to the informational needs of our unique user communities.
    • Imagine if we let go of collection management (because most material would be available electronically) and focused on collection service.

And there is the quintessential change that a post-OPAC world would bring: libraries would be (re)defined in terms of their services rather than their collections. What type of instruction do we provide for undergraduates? What type of technological and pedagogical tools do we offer faculty? Where are our access points for reference/research and how robust are they in virtual environments? What spaces for innovation, creation, discovery, play, collaboration, and independent study do we offer? The post-OPAC library is a library that focuses even more attention on the needs of the user: information needs and otherwise.

In the twentieth century, we best served the information needs of our users through focused collection development and information organization. Librarians were, for the most part, the only professionals qualified and in a position to make the necessary information resources available to campus populations. In the twentieth-first century, the means of information distribution and organization are in the [capable?] hands of institutions with more resources and leverage than most universities can muster. We can best serve the information needs of our users through guidance, instruction, and by developing better filters (read: discovery layers) to help them manage today’s chaotic information landscape.

The libraries that shift their focus to collection service will, in my opinion, be the ones that succeed and that maintain a strong influence on campus intellectual life. Those that continue to put most of their efforts into collection development will soon enough find themselves being replaced with more efficient and more robust vendors who provide the same service for less. We can make our own future rather than be determined by it. We can be the rock in the stream.

Special thanks to @lagina for helping me find a title for this post.

Rode bikes down to Hermosa along the coast, had margaritas at our favorite Mexican place, took an afternoon nap on the beach, had cupcakes and coffee, now off to see Prometheus. So THIS is what having a free weekend feels like!

And now begins the frantic rush to catch up on things at work post #ala12 before leaving for France in a week.