Karen Coyle has posted some wonderful summaries of meetings of the Bib Control Working Group on March 9. It is exciting to read the viewpoints of those outside the academic library: folks from Google, a professor, a system vendor, etc. Is is scary to consider “The “next gen” catalog is really responding to “this gen” users. (By the time we get to “next” we’ll be waaaaaay behind.)”? [summary of Andrew Pace’s session: http://kcoyle.blogspot.com/2007/03/users-and-uses-new-services.html.] The ship has left the dock and it’s traveling at warp speed. We better get moving!
How can our libraries adapt quickly enough to meet these users’ needs when we are mired in bureaucracy that might prevent us from hiring those feral professionals that Jim Neal has written about.. We are discussing these issues in our personnel planning meetings. Grant money & other temporary funds may get us through the initial hires, but what will we do for the long term? Will we really stop doing some of the traditional things? Will we hire different types of staff as people retire or resign? These issues are evident in our new strategic plan so I am anxious to see how these things play out in the not-too-distant future.
We have talked about re-tooling staff. This is something I’ve stressed within my own department. As we get more shelf-ready materials & automate more processes, we need to prepare staff to do other things: to work with DSpace (or other open source software we may have in the future) on digital projects; to work on the unique collections in archives and special collections; to provide access to the “born digital” material at our own institution. These are very worthwhile goals and I want my folks to be part of it!
Tim Burke, the history professor who spoke at the meeting, described his searching technique to the audience. Karen quite nicely captured the weaving of this fascinating journey. It reinforces the notion that the library catalog is not the “be-all-end-all” and we need to get over this. I admit it. I used to be a hard-core “they-need-to-learn-how-to-use-the- catalog-properly” cataloger. Well, that will never happen. So it’s imperative that we become part of the process to push that good information out to the user in new ways, to encourage our system vendors to get with the program before we AND they become irrelevant!