This summer my library went through a strategic realignment. We had the convergence of numerous retirements and other departures that presented us with an opportunity to look across the entire organization and consider some adjustments.
The driving factor behind this effort was to better align the library with the University’s strategic directions. New priorities are emerging across campus and we needed to position ourselves to participate and partner more fully. And yes, I’m aware that’s admin-speak.
One theme we focused on was research. Previously we had two areas that shared this same word:
Research and Instruction Services
Research and Informatics
We decided to define our concept of research around activities such as data curation, scholarly communication, publishing services, repositories, and technology development. This is very different from the traditional…
I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.
The portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.
Here is a snippet:
Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…
Amazon just announced an All-You-Can-Read service: Unlimited Kindle. It offers a collection of over 600,000 eBook titles for a low price of $9.99 per month. If this truly includes all Kindle books—it is a game changer.
Take this Elsevier title for example. It sells for $102. Under the new model I could access this and hundreds of similar high quality titles for just $10 per month.
Or textbooks. Why pay nearly $200 each when you can probably get all your books for the entire semester for just $30. (3 months of access)
I did some quick math and it would cost us about $300,000 per month to offer this service to our campus community. Or about $3.8 million annually—perhaps less depending on how summer enrollment is configured. Obviously Amazon will want to sell to individuals and not offer an institutional rate, but hypothetically that’s the ballpark.
It is very common for librarians to serve as liaisons to academic departments. They teach classes, purchase materials, answer reference questions, assist with research endeavors, and generally get involved with the odds-and-ends of those units. Some librarians also liaise with defined user communities such as first-year students, international students, or students associated with particular residence halls.
This classic approach enables librarians to connect their expertise with different user segments that likely share similar needs, interests, or perspectives. In short, these librarians serve as the human interface of the library.
But things are changing. I think we are in the initial phase of the next evolutionary step of the librarian as liaison. I touched upon this in my last post about the shift from “knowledge service provider to collaborative partner.” ARL is also…
As someone on the younger side of library leadership, I sometimes worry about my role over the next few decades. Will it involve dismantling the print collections that librarians have invested the last century building? Will budget cuts greatly reduce staffing levels? Will we be constantly justifying our existence since everything is online?
There is a general bleakness about the future of higher education itself so it is easy to worry about the long-term stewardship of our organizations. That’s what I appreciate about this document from the ARL sessions — it presents an optimistic and opportunistic, bold vision for the future. Thanks ARL.
I’ve been thinking about the phrase organizational imprinting a lot. The idea goes that organizations are formed around the economic, political, social, and technological realities of their time and that it is challenging to move on from the starting premise. It’s another way of saying “but we’ve always done it this way.”
This imprinting concept appears frequently in the retail literature: “the lens through which an organization views the world can be so badly obscured by its founding context that the organization becomes unable to change.”
I’ve enjoyed using Google Glass. It connected me with faculty in new ways—from pedagogical experiments and brainstorming about research and instructional needs, to serving on panel discussions and informal talks about applying technology in new ways.
Faculty panel @ Virginia Tech talking about Glass.
I has been interesting watching Ralph Hall (Assistant Professor, Urban Affairs & Planning) build a Glass Community at Virginia Tech. As new invitations to purchase the hardware become available, this group actively recruits faculty and staff from around campus to join the team.
Finals kicked off today at Virginia Tech. I have to admit that I actually like this time of the semester because of the intensity that students bring. I love being surrounded by mass-productivity!
I was looking through our school newspaper this morning and found a library-themed bingo card. There are a lot of tongue-and-cheek elements, but it was nice to see this unexpected and unsolicited shout-out for the library. I think they could have done some more unusual things (like someone spinning) but we’ll take the free publicity. Enjoy:
Blog Break: I have a handful of posts in the works but I’m planning to take a short hiatus. I hope to get back to blogging on June 1… if not sooner.
Last weekend I unexpectedly stumbled into a learning community. It was at a hackathon on my campus called VT Hacks. I was familiar with these types of events at places like Facebook and even in academic libraries, but this was my first opportunity to attend one.
Two years ago this week I visited the Googleplex. It was a mind-stretching experience. I also went to PARC, d school, the lobby of IDEO, Facebook, a handful of startups, and a few accelerators. It was a fantastic and exhausting journey. Google stood out for its blend of hospitality and the sheer shock-and-awesomeness of the place.
As I reflect back– these are the things that stuck with me:
Everything you’ve read is true! Google consistently ranks highly in the best places to work listings. Nap pods. Yoga studios. Meditation spots. Childcare. Laundry. Free shuttles. The bikes. It’s all there. I knew that it would be but seeing it live is unbelievable—in a positive sense. It was like being on a movie set. It was the most amazing and comforting place I could ever imagine.
Diverse spaces. I was able to visit four different buildings. While they each had “the Google look &…
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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.