Reflections on Core Readings

Buckland, “Redesigning Library Services”

My first thought was that this article was really old, over twenty years.  I understand there are foundational ideas that are fundamental to librarianship but when it comes to technology, three years is considered old.

Reading through Buckland’s work, I am reminded of when I first started at the library.  Buckland mentions the ability to make CDROM data available to the patrons via mounting them for distribution.  Our library had CDROM towers full of MedLine and PsychoInfo discs and automated it so as to be able to distribute them on our network or dial-in modems.  Then Buckland makes another point that is poignant.  He says that CDROMs are transitional technology a fact that has come to pass as our databases are no long supplied via CDROM media but are licensed directly from the publisher and accessed via their Internet websites.

The purpose of Buckland’s paper is to explain the transition from paper, to automated, to electronic libraries.  As of 1992, the transition was just at the automated stage.  I believe we are now transitioning into the electronic library, at least my experience in the academic library world tells me.  Here are some examples:

  • Paper versions are no longer the go-to media; students demand full-text electronic versions of journal articles accessible from anywhere.
  • The catalog is no longer just for books.  Next generation catalogs add a discovery layer that searches databases, patron tags, patron comments as well as books to bring the most desirable results to the searcher.
  • With the exception of archival materials and university documents, libraries are not digitizing their paper collections as Buckland thought.  The publishing companies have found that charging libraries for subscriptions to digital versions of indexes, journals and books is more cost-effective than the library digitizing their materials of their own accord.  Not to mention issues with copyright.

There is much more to talk about Buckland such as his foresight in anticipating the users’ desire to access information remotely (although never mentioning the Internet) but I have to reflect on the other readings.

curelylines

Lankes, “The Library As Conversation”

I agree with much that Lankes and company have to say about moving the library more into a participatory entity rather than a resource only.  This philosophy has been influencing my library as well as others for some time now.  To be more, “in the conversation,” is desirable on many levels.  Libraries have to compete with other information resources like Google, so adding a personal touch helps the library to compete with a “cold, uncaring corporation.”  The more attention that the library receives by being in the conversation, the more attention that administration will pay to the library; and by paying meaning more budget given to the library.  Today’s patrons are used to being in an online world that is filled with social participation.  As the article says, bringing the library to the conversation is important.  Today that means that the library should have an active Facebook presence.  Bringing information to people when they need it is an important goal for library services to strive towards. But as I was reminded of this weekend, not everyone, even those that I would expect, have Facebook accounts.  Therefore, the participatory library cannot rely on just one form of social conversation like Facebook.  It needs to offer alternatives.

curelylines

Casey, “Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service”

Like the Buckland book, there is a lot of information contained in this book that will be skipped over to write a short reflection on its contents.  My first impression is that Library 2.0 is not a new concept.  All the library conferences that I have been to lately have incorporated Library 2.0 ideas, mainly participating in conversations with patrons, engaging patrons and adapting new technology to continue with library participation.  But knowing about the Library 2.0 does not mean that every library, including my own, has implemented its features.

The most stand out feature I see in Library 2.0 is making it easier for patrons to give feedback.  The idea of placing this feedback area in plain sight on the main web page is something that I plan to implement.  Another key feature is to evaluate services on a regular basis.  I know my library has fallen victim to the “Plan, Implement, and Forget” strategy but not following up on a project to see if it was useful for either the staff or patrons.  One of my librarians says that she does not want to go to the next conference because even if she learns about a new process, she will not be able to follow up and integrate it into her daily workflow.  Using the: investigate, plan and review teams seems like a good idea but I think the idea would have to be modified based on the library’s size and structure.

The last tidbit that I found interesting was the devotion of content dedicated to the revolution that MySpace was having in social media and barely a sentence on Facebook.  Oh how things have changed since 2006.  Does anyone use MySpace?  It goes to show that technology, services, products and mindsets change regularly.  Change is constant and consistent.  Change is here to stay.  Library 2.0 tells us to embrace change, change regularly and with a purpose.  Convincing staff to change established processes is a difficult matter.

-Gerald Rezes

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One thought on “Reflections on Core Readings

  1. You trace an interesting evolution in the way you present your thoughts on the foundational readings. I agree with your insights: and now I will quote Rush: change isn’t permanent but change is.

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