Back from ER&L

I had the opportunity to attend ER&L (Electronic Resources & Libraries) Conference in Atlanta Thursday – Saturday. The conference facility at Georgia Tech – the Global Learning and Conference Center – is excellent. Almost every session I attended was set up classroom style with plug-ins for laptops and wireless access throughout. (I’ve asked the sales staff to send me information on the facility to share with the NASIG site selection committee. This looks like a great place for NASIG to consider in the future if the cost isn’t too high.)

There were some great sessions – see summaries that K-State folks posted on the Libraries Conference Reports blog. There were some good – and perhaps controversial – thoughts that I’ll share here.

From Rick Luce at the conference opening: [Librarians need to] be enemies of complacency… Ask dangerous questions… Question and re-define our roles… Seek continual renewal for our organizations… Be catalysts for renewal, not information custodians!

From Jane Burke at the closing keynote: Do you think graduate students of the 1960s would have come to the library building if they had a choice? …. We need to accept that “it’s over” [i.e., traditional library service] …. We can do anything; we can’t do everything … Accept short term risk to avoid long term marginalization.

I applaud the conference organizers who did a great job finding extremely relevant programming. I liked the organization of sessions around themes such as library-vendor relations, users and usability, digital initiatives, standards, ERMs, managing e-resources, and more. I was personally interested in the sessions that dealt with e-resource workflows & staffing, and not surprised to hear that our situation is a lot like those at other academic institutions. We are in the same boat and we have only one oar. We recognize that we need support from library administrators, deans, provosts/presidents, and IT to meet our users’ needs.

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