Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hedgehog Concept

From Good To Great by Jim Collins - business books.

Can this apply if your passion is learning and you want to be a librarian? Are you weird if its not about the money?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

12th Annual Vale/NJ ... User Conference

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend my first Vale NJ Conference.

from NJ Vale

The Keynote Speaker for the conference was: James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University.
He said his talk would be controversial, and it was!

One of his slides was: Throw out the Books.
His vision of the future is a world where Libraries get rid of their books (or maybe keep some as props), but basically have repositories throughout the country which will contain digital copies of all the books.  Then there will be a national repository which will contain one or two hard copies of real books.

Collaboration was also emphasized.  He visions libraries joining to take advantage of numbers and negotiating for digital media in order to drive cost down and allow for open access.

He also posited the idea of centralization of tasks such as cataloging, preservation, digitization, and library technical support so that libraries could put their focus back on the users.

He felt libraries could really take advantage of a void in service by building a repository of 'apps' for users to access in one location.

Libraries need to re-think their spaces.  (Especially since they will have so much of it once they get rid of all their books.)

Also two ideas that he felt were particularly useless in connection to libraries.  One was assesing library performance with ROI - Return on Investment methodologies.  His idea was that libraries needed to form a consortium group that would develop a richer and more in depth approach to assessing library services.

The other idea is information literacy.  He said it was an academic crutch since really what difference do we really make?

Another interesting idea was certification for librarians.  That Librarians need to go for continuing education and be certified so that they can connect with new ideas and information that is available.  He felt that we as librarians do not connect eneough with the research that is being developed and make decisions by the seat of our pants or through instict.  To clarify he shared an old Japanese proverb:

from the Library of Congress
Vision without action is a daydream... Action without vision is a nightmare.

This is just a small glimpse into his varied, long and though provoking talk.

He also had a brake out session, of which I caught the last part.  Reaction was varied but mostly it seemed that more established librarians were not sure how some of these more radical concepts would be translated into reality. And one mentioned to me that she was glad she would be retiring in nine years since this brave new world was coming a bit too fast for her. 

I feel for her and all the librarians that are watching their world rapidly change, their functions outsourced via centralization and the library environments themselves changed into new spaces.

On the other hand librarianship is new to me and I wonder in what ways we (as new librarians) and more established librarians will be able to join and take up the challenge and form the new library world in response to our users ever changing needs.