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Containers for Information or Platforms for Scholarship? R&D and the Networked Perspective

October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

In seven days I’ll be giving a talk on R&D for academic libraries but here is the enhanced version of the conference paper. This is a follow-up (actually a sequel) to Think Like A Startup. I described the intentions of this paper last month so I’ll save us all from repetition. The key point is that assessment programs should be engines for change seeking progress not sustainment.

I reread the paper on Saturday and the thing that stood out was how much content I had to cut in order to get it into the ballpark of the conference’s word limitations.

If this paper is too long for you (or if you think assessment is boring) then at least go watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk. The part about “functional fixedness” is critical and it highlights the potential tunnel vision we can develop preventing us from empowering the evolution of libraries.

Another key point is the need to develop a discovery-oriented outlook instead of a data-driven or policy-driven decision-making—when entering into the hazy space of the unknown. I wish I could have spent more time on that theme—perhaps later in another form. But I strongly recommend an article in the current issue of Fast Company— the message is so relevant for libraries and higher education:

“This is the great challenge of 21st-century leadership. We have grown up with certain assumptions about what works in an enterprise, what the metrics for success are, how we organize and deploy resources. The bulk of those assumptions are wrong now. The world in which we were raised and trained no longer exists.”

Anyway– if you liked Startup then you’ll probably like this one too. If you didn’t like Startup then you definitely won’t like this paper.

In November I’m planning to write a few posts featuring “bonus material” that includes interviews with librarians involved with R&D operations. I’ll also share Virginia Tech’s emerging Hub Model.

Thanks: A big thanks to Tara Patterson for her thoughtful edits. And thanks to my artist Ashley Marlowe. Ashley and I have another project in the works… but you’ll have to wait until after the holidays to hear more about that.

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