Archive for the 'Library Trends' Category

Recommended Reading..

Currently reading
Beyond Survival: Managing Academic Libraries in Transition

A very interesting read– especially about how both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Arizona Library systems sought to implement transformative change throughout their organizations. Both case studies reveal how easily library culture can degrade into organizational stagnation and turf protection– where the means to an end becomes an end unto itself (as in the University of Pitt’s case, where cataloging became an obstacle to customer service). Here are a few review snippets listed on Amazon:

..They devote the first three chapters to background details on the need for change, along with an overview of managing change, including strategic planning, organizational development, marketing, and team-based organizations.
Library Journal

[W]e need to fully embrace change, and adapt successful business models like strategic planning and organizational development in order to turn change into an opportunity. In addition to theory, authors Elizabeth J. Wood, Rush Miller and Amy Knapp provide detailed case studies on how libraries… managed the kind of transformative change needed to position the academic library for a “vibrant future.”
American Libraries

Three library science scholars with business experience from U. of Michigan and U. of Pittsburgh borrow techniques from the business world to offer advice to managers of academic libraries undergoing changes compelled by both internal and external factors. Supported by case studies of two university libraries, chapters discuss the reasons for change, short term vs. long term solutions, the theoretical underpinnings of change, strategies for embedding and perpetuating alterations, the pros and cons of using teams, how to stand up to scrutiny and plan for the future, and barriers to change, among other topics.
Reference & Research Book News

If only this book was generally considered required reading in the field! And I didn’t even have to purchase the book (used the library of course).
John Potter


Libraries and IT: together forever?

This week I’ve been working with colleagues on an MLA presentation proposal about libraries’ alternative management techniques. While doing preliminary research I stumbled across today’s (January 18, 2008) Chronicle of Higher Education. One of the front page stories, “Strains and joys color mergers between libraries and tech units” caught my attention.

I work in a small liberal arts college with no library director but a “management team”. We are fortunate to have a non-librarian as part of our team who oversees our Educational Technology department. She offers insight that the librarians tend to overlook especially from a technological perspective. While reading the article I was surprised to learn that some libraries struggle with the concept of “blended” environments particularly when we use the term so often.

The article mentions a half dozen various colleges and universities, both private and public, and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs each experienced. Each institute had its own reasons for combining the library with information technology services. These blended “learning commons” or “information commons” allow for stream-lined accessibility for our users. David Dodd, CIO at Xavier University in Cincinnati, says that “colleges ‘have to be better than Google'” and I believe that to be true.

It’s time libraries shed the dusty, quiet book repository image and started to become (or continued to be, whichever the case may be) the information mecca for the institute complete with appropriate technology and support that today’s students expect.

-dana pawloski

Rekindle your love affair with books

Is the book dead? Is print obsolete? Is reading overrated?

For some people, new technologies will always pose a threat to what they know and love. When e-books first appeared, pundits predicted that they would eventually replace the printed book. Others argued that Google Book Search would infringe on the profit and copyright of traditional publishers. Rarely do such dire forecasts reflect reality.’s new wireless reading device, the Kindle, is already inspiring similar predictions. Yet Amazon’s own president and CEO Jeff Bezos reinforces the fact that, despite ever-changing formats, “books aren’t dead.” The full interview with Bezos can be found in the November 26, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine.

I first encountered mention of the Kindle a month ago while working on collection development. The Kindle shares many features with previous e-book devices with one important difference: wireless connectivity. It’s designed to operate independently of any computer. You can purchase a book through Amazon via one-touch process and once you buy the book it will be downloaded to your Kindle and stored in your library. Downloads take less than 90 seconds.

While searching for more information, I stumbled upon several blog entries. I am not the only one interested and intrigued by the Kindle. This post came from Amazon’s own backyard: Seattle PI covers the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Kindle:

Boingboing offers some interesting points as well:

The times are changing in the publishing world. However, as far as this traditional librarian is concerned, nothing beats curling up with a good (print) book and a cup of cocoa.

Data Curation: A New Frontier in Faculty-Librarian Collaboration

That is the title of a presentation I’m giving next spring for the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters. Why? Because data curation has tremendous potential to reshape academic librarianship. In particular (I’ll refer to my abstract):

Librarians with data curation skills retain the ability to help researchers better describe, manage, and share their research datasets. By introducing sound data management practices into faculty research, they also promise to facilitate the discovery, access, and dissemination of said research. Such practices include maintaining data quality (digital preservation), adding value (metadata creation), and providing for reuse (data validation). Librarians willing to provide such services invariably allow faculty greater time to focus upon research. And success in this regard will undoubtedly promote faculty-librarian collaboration beyond what is currently conceived.

A very general introduction to be sure (consistent with speech format) but exciting nonetheless. And librarians will be hearing much more about the field. Just last summer, the University of Illinois at Urbana announced data curation as a concentration for their LIS degree. Within the last 2 years, Purdue has created a successful Digital Data Curation Center (D2C2) staffed with librarians to help faculty organize their research (purposely located outside the library). And don’t forget the current impact data librarianship has had upon GIS, the social sciences (UofM’s ICPSR), and bioinformatics.

These developments have tremendous potential to influence how librarianship is perceived among faculty. Institutional respository (IR) managers should also take note– because data curation will likely encourage a desire for data repositories separate from the traditional IR (Andrew Treloar et al. makes the case in this D-lib magazine article).

When learning about Web 2.0 tools.. may want to consider purchasing Meredith Farkas’ new book
Social Software in Libraries: Building Collaboration, Communication, and Community Online .

Amazon’s editorial review notes that “This nuts-and-bolts guide provides librarians with the information and skills necessary to implement the most popular and effective social software technologies: blogs, RSS, wikis, social networking software, screencasting, photo-sharing, podcasting, instant messaging, gaming, and more. Success stories and interviews highlight these tools ease-of-use and tremendous impact.”

At first I thought ‘Social Software’, hmm, is that like SSPS software for survey analysis? Alas it is not, yet the subject is still relevant to academic libraries.

BTW, Farkas runs an excellent blog entitled
Information Wants to Be Free

Visiting Merit Network in Ann Arbor

Taking advantage of MLA’s TechnoTour, I left for Ann Arbor Friday to visit the Merit Network in Ann Arbor. Merit is advertising itself as..

“..a member-based organization that facilitates collaboration between educational , health care, non-profit, governmental, and research communities, Merit Network connects organizations and builds communities through state-of-the-art networking services and support”

As such, it employs an Internet2 connection for very high-speed (768 Kbps+, up to 4MB) videoconferencing. The MLA tour was attended by about 20 librarians at Merit’s (relatively) new headquarters to see a well-presented demonstration. Merit is highlighting its 24/7 videoconferencing services to professionals who might be interested in distance learning, telemedicine, and collaborative applications.

Those interested in scheduling videoconferencing services should visit here. For more information visit the Video Conferencing Cookbook. For video basics, see this article or this powerpoint display

here in this pdf file

Academics must publish

.. and can at

As such, I’ve taken the leap to start my own journal- the Journal of Institutional Repository Research– at the site under the domain name Quite a bit of time and effort required to set in motion however.

Thoughts from the State Librarian

..about a new model for coops in the future can be found at

Top 10 Assumptions for the Future of Academic and Research Libraries

ACRL has put out an interview between Pamela Snelson, president of the ACRL and college librarian at Franklin and Marshall College, and James L. Mullins, chair of the ACRL Research Committee and dean of libraries at Purdue University. You can go to the website at
here or just listen to the (relatively short) PODCAST here(recommended).

Of course, IRs are mentioned–and with this how librarians must begin viewing themselves as part of the research process.

John Potter
ITT Technical Institute/Grand Rapids