Saturday, 13 December 2008

Thrilling information tasks?

Just a few minutes ago I read the interesting article "Long lost information".

In the current-day liturgy of teaching, it seems that motivating students is key. Once you have students motivated, supposedly, they will easily absorb what may otherwise seem dry or mundane. So a teacher’s plan should not be to transmit the material, but to motivate the students to learn the material for themselves while acting as a guiding frame. For librarians who teach, then, the challenge is to motivate students to be interested in searching for and critically thinking about information.

The author raises the question how to manage in particular to get the students motivated. As I am after this problem for the optimization of LOTSE I am interested in a fruitful discussion about it. So hurry up, guys! ;)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

art as an important learning factor

How to reach sustainability regarding taught things? How do we as librarians manage that the stuff we showed and the things we taught are used in future?
We know from neuroscience that we keep things in mind that touched us in a sense. Art is an important factor to reach this.

Thomas Glatt underlines that art is neutral. Hence it allows stresses and disturbings which create emotions. - It`s not only about a surprise effect but it`s about a change in perspectives. To reach that people get to know a new perspective it is necessary to create a disruption. With this method we are able to tap the full potential regarding learning.

We have to ask ourselves if teaching is too less playful. In Glatt`s opinion there are good ideas to combine learning and art but it has to be further tested. In eLearning, for instance, visualization and sound is used but the chances are not exhausted until now.

One reason for less linkages between art and learning can be that art is not be seen as target-oriented. And if one takes part in a further training there should be a success in the end: this one should reach another level regarding his/ her skills. Another problem is that art is used by many organizations in a commercial way.
An efficient method to get new ideas can be a so-called flow-performance. This method is used at the conference LEARNTEC

(a comprised and translated (German to English) interview with Thomas Glatt, an eLearning-expert)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Librarians´ ethics

Well, do you sometimes think: ´What for a silly question?´ - and then you have to remind yourself: There are no silly questions. What about ethics in librarianship? (Ethics is the scientific concentration of human's attitude and behaviour) Is it an important topic? Or is it already implied in todays librarians´ attitude?
In my opinion it is a crucial thing in reaching success in reference services. But its the very heart of the first law of a reference librarian: offering openness.

- my new (professional) situation -

It has been several weeks since the last posting. But other things were more important ;) My life changed insofar that I am now situated as a reference librarian at the ULB Münster :)

Besides my job in the information unit I am involved in the optimization of LOTSE (an online tutorial).

So this position equates to my wishes and goals (being in direct touch with the customers and bettering services) ;)
The good thing is I get new insights and can offer practical experiences (of the challenging reality) in this blog. The bad thing: I may have less time to write postings :(

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Libraries as places

- Uh, it's been a while since the last posting. I was just to busy with applying for jobs. -

The place "library" remains important although everything's is going to be digital and electronic services become more and more relevant. Libraries serve as a "third place" which was discussed mostly among American librarians.
Jin Tan remarked:
"Libraries are changing as we tell often enough. But we speak rather less about how the library should change to get the patrons coming into the library."

It's the goal of the new project "Zukunftswerkstatt" of the EKZ. It's interesting to see that the image at the project's page is from a former project which shows the envisioned new Brabant library.

What counts is not the architecture or the setting its important that the patrons feel good there. Yes, libraries are about feelings.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Libraries as "One-stop-shops" ?

A few years ago there was the common opinion that libraries have to be "one-stop-shops". Recently there is a tide against it: Ojala is one of the detractors who is saying that the disciplines are too specialized to be covered by one global search (e.g. vascoda for specific/ technical information). Furthermore you only can develop a meta-search with search functions that are included in each of the databaeses, catalogs and/ or search engines.
In Germany there is one meta-search example in the field of LIS: b2i.

These are a few of the problems that one is facing while developing an optimized service to customers. But nevertheless the library portal has to become a "service oriented architecture": Everyone knows the information architecture that is connected with or part of a library portal:
No wonder that a customer gets confused! Even a librarian does not know all these online services.
That's why the library portal has to be changed into an intuitive and easy-to-use portal. In my opinion this is a major task of librarians.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Reaching out far beyond the traditional library clients

As I found out at WebJunction there is an interesting projekt to bring cyclists into the libraries: As cyclists rolled over all or parts of the Underground Railroad Bycicle Route (URBR) they cross many libraries on their way. They are able to recognize them because Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling’s instigator of the route, had the foresight to include library locations on the detailed maps available to participants. As a result, the travelers found the local libraries along the way and found a treasure trove of resources: pointers to good restaurants, grocery stores, Laundromats, bike shops. They could use clean bathrooms and even charge their cell phones. Most significant for the URBR experience, they found libraries as the keepers of community history, often in partnership with local historical societies.
-What a good idea: to highlight the libraries on a tourist map! But in doing this libraries have to offer specialized services for tourists (e.g. exhibitions about the region).

As Betha Gutchie highlights
"libraries serve as way stations and the library staff as conductors".
This is really a nice image.
Furthermore Public Libraries have to address to other community groups, too. This also counts for Academic Libraries but in a different way: Academic Libraries have to address their services to local organizations of economy, research and politics, and -of course- to the local citizens. To strenghten the university in competing with other universities they have to support efforts to establish a central repository with all the relevant information, sources and primary data relevant to both, faculty members and sponsors.
With respect to the aforementioned project I am even more intensely thinking about:
Which innovative projects and/ or tailored services are imaginable for Academic libraries?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Universities's Intellectual Property

In Kopenhagen the first conference on Universities' Intellectual Property took place: COPENMIND (1. - 3. September 2008). The organizer Muldow said in "University Journal" that universities worldwide are inadequately communicating their innovations to the industry. Therefore he has founded the conference as a kind of marketplace for building of close university-industry relationships that holds many unexploited opportunities. This is important for efforts that should result in a commercial product or service. But what about libraries: is such a conference of interest for libraries?
Depends on the participating organizations, one could say. The truth is: Libraries need to be in contact with other organizations from other fields. Why bnot cooperating with companies like Oracle: Such a company could create the technical infrastructure, whereas librarians are responsible for the contents.
Besides libraries have to strengthen their position in their environment. For instance, researchers have to recognize the academic library through their services. Libraries have to offer the right services to establish the library as a brand so that faculty members are saying: "Yes, I am a fan of the 'LIBRARY' !"
If libraries want to be the central information provider they have to offer services that justifies it. (This is one of the things I highlighted in my final dissertation.)

The problem of inadequatly communication is existing in the LIS-environment, too. Moreover, academic libraries are challenged more than ever:

  1. there is a fast and easy access to information via the Internet

  2. there is a rising number of information providers

  3. statistics and studies show that libraries' users and/or visits are in a decrease

  4. the library has to provide a better information supply while budgets are in a decrease.

The article "Libraries in the Converging Worlds of Open Data, E-Research, and Web 2.0" presents some of the key technologies, tools, and organizations within the open data movement and conclude that these have the potential to not only increase possibilities of knowledge transfer, but ultimately generate new knowledge.

The efforts that libraries take to better their services lead to a more positive image of the library (which would be good for all stakeholders).

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The library of the McMaster University is providing the "2.0 toolbox" to their faculty and staff members

That's what I have found a few minutes ago:

The library of the McMaster University hosts blogs and wikis for their staff and faculty members. Their reasons for hosting blogs and wikis are these:
"It’s the library’s core mission to provide and manage access to the university’s academic resources and scholarly information. In a world where web technologies are changing the face of scholarly communication and the creation of the scholarly artifact, we feel that providing a platform for faculty to harness new technologies to facilitate their teaching & research makes a lot of sense for the library. It allows us to continue our role as stewards of that scholarly content. In addition, we see our provision of these tools as an extension of our role in upholding and advocating for intellectual and academic freedom."

That sounds good. Especially because its the first noncommercial and nonprofit hoster that I heard of. To develop services for the specific needs of the library's users should be the major goal of all libraries.

The McMaster library acts as a real service provider for if a blog or wiki does not have a feature that staff or faculuty members need, or if the blog or wiki is not behaving in a way that works for them, they can tell the library staff about it!

In future the library wants to add other tools to the 2.0 Toolbox. At the moment, we’re looking into possibly adding a social bookmarking tool. The faculty and staff members are asked to mention other specific technologies that they would like to have.
- Well, in this case the library is a service provider in a new way: putting up 2.0-tools for their faculty members.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Voting search results at Google in near future

In near future users can vote search results at Google: Users vote search results up or down - a down vote makes it dissapear with a “poof,” an up vote moves the result to the first page.
Google is also testing comments, with linked user names, and others can vote those comments up and down. In effect, this bucket test shows a Google that combines their search algorithm with every important feature of Digg.

Google was working nearly a year on these new features. For further information see "Is this the future search?" on Techchrunch.

This manipulation of search results leaves lots of thoughts:
Will this manipulation work out in negative way so that businesses manipulate their own sites' range? (Probably) If so, will it influence the search results more than other manipulation tools?

What is also worrying me: If you leave your footprints there by voting other can see your profile. - Another step to a surveillance society?

Friday, 29 August 2008

A quite useful service for students

At UC Merced, you can text message a librarian. Just ask what you want to know.

- this service (or a rather similar one, e.g. virtual reference) should be realized in every academic library.

"When librarians rule the world"

On 29th of February was held a workshop in the Central and Regional Library Berlin (Zentral- und Landes- bibliothek Berlin). The workshop had the title "When librarians rule the world: the skills and tools we need to thrive in a Web 2.0 world". This workshop should provide the participants with the critical skills they need to succeed and thrive in the new world of Web 2.0 and Libraries 2.0. The speaker was Ellen Bates who is an experienced information professional and a skilled speaker. Fortunately Anke Bruns and Susann Scharper compiled the contents of this workshop (thanks to them).

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

How to cope with Problems of Giving Reference?

Librarians in practice know the problems with giving reference all to well:

  • a) How to find out what the intention of the customer is?

  • b) What is good reference?

  • c) How to find out whether the reference interview was successful?

  • d)How to meausure it?

To get the customer participating in bettering the library service, the library has to set up a "Service level agreement" as a basis for collaboration with the customer. (I think I don't have to underline that collaboration with the customer is nessecary.)

A good overview about what has to be kept in mind regarding the reference interview is given here. Willen Brown gives examples of reference interviews. These examples show the problems with giving reference very clearly. The "Reference and User Services Association" (RUSA) has set up guidelines for giving reference. The reference interview consists of five stages:
1. Approachability
2. Interest
3. Listening/ Inquiring
4. Searching
5. Follow up

Listening and inquiring (only ask open questions!) are essential skills of the reference librarian. Under "Approachability" I would put the saying "expect the unexpected". The real difficulty is to find out what the customer really wants. Often there is standing behand the question a far different intention. Not to mention that customers mostly are not willing to ask the librarian for they don't want to show that they can't find the information by themselves, thast there is an information gap.
I wonder if hypnosis would work to find out the customers intention ;-)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

the 1st German "Library Act "- vision and reality

Following the IFLA-chairwoman's slogan "Libraries on the Agenda" I want to write about Library Acts, especially in Germany:
A "Library Act" provides a sustainable basis for maintaining libraries . More than a half of the European countries possess a "Library Act" (e.g. Spain, Poland, France, Estonia etc.). Let alone countries like the United States, Canada and Australia. (Some of the legal texts can be found here. Unfortunately the legislation pages of UNESCO Libraries Portal seems to be not updated for a long time)
In Germany there is no national "Library Act": Until now only the federal states are able to enact "Library Acts". On the 4th of July Thuringia made use of this federal competence. So Thuringia ist the first federal state of Germany that has a "library Act". But efforts started several years ago, mainly pushed by the DBV. They created a prototype of a "Library Act". Obviously Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will follow. Even in Berlin librarians call for a "Library Act". Hopefully these efforts yield results.
The DBV demands that the "Library Acts" not only should describe the state-of-the-art but have to consist of details regarding tasks and funding. Especially the funding should be embellished on a grand scale. Concerning funding the Thuringia's "Library Act" (§5) declares that libraries are funded by their supporting organizations. So it remains as it was: the funding of public libraries remains voluntarily. In view of local authorities' financial difficulties this is very disappointing for the "Library Act" should strengthen the libraries' situation and position. Therefore it seems to be an irony when Thuringia's minister of education Bernhard Müller remarks (as the Federal President Horst Köhler before) that the libraries have to be on the political agenda.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

take "Libraresta" - be relaxed! (fun-ad)

Well, that's a drug that I would like to take! ;)

Unfortunately it's a fictive one.

But in my opinion it's a good (and funny) possibility to promote the library!

So be creative and create your own ad:
Develop an advertisment for your library with the help of CEDRA. (Thanks to them)

I would also like to say thanks to Library Mistress and her blog from where I discovered it :)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Web2.0 is going around the information (professionalists') world

Conferences for librarians about Web2.0 are common in the USA, in Great Britain and nowadays in Germany, too. Just a few minutes ago I found an announcement for a Web2.0-conference for librarians in Puerto Rico. In June there was the 11th EAHIL-conference that dealt with web2.0 and the possibilities for libraries. (Several papers and podcasts are here)
- I wonder which other parts of the world are infected with the virus "web2.0" and "library2.0"... (?) ! To get a picture of it I tried a search on google.maps:


By taking away "library2.0" out of the query I got only hits within the USA:


That I got another part of the world with nearly similar queries (in the same search engine) is surprising! Why is there such a difference?!?
Furthermore these hits are not very satisfycing because not all hits have to do with the LIS-world. -Is there another geographical search engine that is more intelligent? (I only know from the european project SPIRIT in which the Institute Geographique National (IGN) takes part in.)

Well, I know: To get a picture about the virus "web 2.0" this way of using Google maps is not the best way, of course. It's better to use the Google API. (I never did that before but I will try to program sth. by using Google API)

Monday, 21 July 2008

Amazon -where is it going?

I just realized differences between the german and the english Amazon:
At you can tag the product and upload a video review whereas in the german Amazon you are able to see the discussion topics with the most frequencies right below the product description.
Why are there such great differences? Is it due to differences in interests and/ or habits?

Monday, 30 June 2008

the digital desaster (?)

PM is writing about the cultural heritage we are obviously loosing. - well, I wouldn't say this. Okay, many data is lost, but are we loosing the cultural heritage?
Several people think so, thats why an archive is built up in the Internet.

But I would see it with the eyes of Umlauf, who was recently saying that this is a time, where more is published than ever, more books are read than ever ...

We will see...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The possibilities of Library 2.0

Building Academic Library 2.0 - Association of Christian Librarians

From: librarianmer, 1 week ago

Preconference for Association of Christian Librarians Conference, June 9, 2008.

SlideShare Link

Is your library in facebook?

I am really surprised how easily you can set up a business or non-profit site in facebook!

You only have to go to and choose the category.
Then you upload the logo, put in additional information about your institution and its nearly done!
After that your insttiution is part of the social network facebook: your institution is where the users are! That could be very surprising for your customers. ;) But the best of that: Your customers are able to add your facebook page to their favourite sites by "Become a Fan".

Thursday, 5 June 2008

If it's not in the Internet it does not exist

"If it's not in the Internet it does not exist": that's the most common notion among Net savvies -and even among library users.

Unfortunately, libraries do not make any "noise" online: Users don't feel the library! Users don't perceive the value libraries add to information. That's no wonder: the OPAC sucks, the information architecture is complicated...

  • 1. Librarians have to start to set the information into a context: via combining more metadata, via relating recources, via visualizing the subject terms etc.

  • 2. Catalogs have to be opened up to other systems

  • 3. Libraries have to go where the users are

  • 4. Libraries can only serve the users if they really KNOW the specific needs of the users - so the librarians have not to talk TO them but WITH them

  • 5. Libraries have to allow users to participate ... in order to design the library's future together

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Why is it so important to develop a library 2.0 and what is critical about it? (discussed @ Bibcamp 2008)

Until now libraries were not forced to concentrate on reaching online communities. But within the last few years opportunities increased to build communities and share information within networks.

The question is: Will the library become unimportant in the future?
Several librarians don't think so (and we have to do so ;) ), e.g. Jochum: He (as several American LIS professionals, too) is the opinion that the abundance of virtuality is throwing us back to the analogue world.
But nevertheless we have to concentrate on online services and on serving Internet savvies. In this context the word "library2.0" evolved. But what is behind the word "library2.0"? What does it mean in detail?
Heller is describing it in the foreword to the "library2.0"-Issue of BuB (Vol 31, 2007, Issue 2). I only want to concentrate on a few things: library2.0 is about interaction with customers, participation of users especially in the regard of user-generated content, and so on.
Unfortunately, "library2.0" is used too much so that it will be screwed up in a few years. "Library2.0" is a buzzword. Therefore, librians have to find a better word that is decribing the root of the matter. Particularly, because "library2.0" causes confusion: Is "library2.0" an extension of "library1.0"? Or is "library2.0" displacing "library1.0"? In this regard: Is everything of the traditional library to change??
The core functions remain. Librarians always were distributors of information -but now librarians are not the only gateways to information any more: (Fortunately?) they lost their role as gatekeepers.
Moreover the word "library2.0" is not the correct one because it implies that librarians have to upgrade themselves to stay alive. In the sense of keeping up-to-date it's right but to communicate this to "conservative" librarians gives them a negative feeling (technostress).
But it's clear that librarians have to change -or else they are not able to change the library : Libraries should serve as windows to the multifaceted landscapes of the information world.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Matthias Steffens @ Bibcamp2008

Gemeinsame Literaturverwaltung am Beispiel von refbase

From: msteffens, 18 hours ago

Web-basierte Literaturverwaltung mit refbase - Bespiele für die Integration mit anderen Tools durch Unterstützung von APIs & Standards

SlideShare Link

Lambert Heller @ Bibcamp 2008

Was können Bibliotheken für Blogger tun?

From: lambo, 2 days ago

SlideShare Link

Bibcamp 2008 - the first German Bibcamp about "library2.0"

In Potsdam and Berlin the first German Bibcamp took place (16/ 17 May 2008). It was well organized but flexible enough to change times, topics etc. Each participant was able to participate and was asked to do so. It was discussed how to realize a "library 2.0". We got a lot of new insights into this topic.
So, all in all, it was a very successful "unconference".
Pictures of Bibcamp 2008 can of course be found at flickr and picasa.

What is striking me now in this very moment, is:
There are several problems regarding realizing the "library 2.0" but the vision is shining vividly at the horizon of libraries' future - hopefully leading the librarians in redefining the library.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The evolution of the web (by Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider, presented at Inetbib-conference 2008)

This presentation was one of the most impressive ones. (Other people are sharing this opinion as I heard.) It was a presentation concerning the impact that the Web 2.0 and the Web 3.0 will have on libraries. Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider believes that this evolution of the web won't leave the libraries untouched.
Several images were drawn that were impressive enough and presented in a way worth to keep in mind.
For each version of the web, Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider gave analogies (quotes of literary works):

Web1.0 = "the garden of paths that are branching out" (Der Garten der Pfade, die sich verzweigen)
Web1.0 consists of networks of portals, databases, websites and search engines. Web1.0 can be identified by its push-character. (slide 5) Libraries were going online. Libraries began to offer information portals. Moreover libraries started to administer the user accounts digitally. (slide 6)

After that Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider showed the transformation from the Middle ages to the modern times (slide 7). According to Slawterdyke (?) the modern information world is charaterized by pluralism of information sources. That means everyone can be his/ her own librarian, everyone can have his/her own library. (This reminds me of the workshop "Everyone's a librarian now" at Bobcatsss2008)

The techniques of the library1.0:
  • Dublin Core
  • catalog as a bibliographic ontology
  • semantic federation
  • automation of mash-ups

Web2.0 = "the castle, in which fates are crossing" (Das Schloss, darin sich Schicksale kreuzen"
Web2.0 contains of wikis, blogs + RSS etc (slide 8) . The tools are used to deepen ones sense. Furthermore it's possible to reroute the flow of information via RSS-subscriptions etc. Communities/Folksonomies serve as bundles of information (slide 15). Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider compares them to birds which at first fly in a chaotic way and then organize themselves in a streamline (slide 13). (- In management processes are streamlined, too.)
Web2.0 belongs to the pull-technology.

The techniques of the library2.0 (slide 9):
  • RSS
  • Folksonomies
  • widgets
The theory is followed by some examples (slide 10, slide 12)

Web3.0 = the Taming of the Shrew (Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung) - Shakespeare
In Web3.0 everything is a question of semantic (slide 16). The goal is to define information that is understood by search agents/ robots/ spiders. It's the goal to make the search engines/ robots intelligent. That means
libraries can serve in the information glut as islands (or life rafts) by building thesauri, taxonomies and ontologies (slide 17). Thus a very complex structure of metadata is required.

The techniques of library3.0 (slide 18):
  • Dublin Core
  • catalog as a semantic ontology
  • semantiv federation of digital libraries
  • automatic mash-ups
So, what's the essential difference between web2.0 and web3.0? (slide 19)
Web2.0 is about people. In the world of web2.0 everything is miscellanious. Web3.0 is about agents. Thus, in the world of web3.0 there is no space for miscellanious.

Web4.0 = It - Stephen King
Web4.0 is the mixture of web2.0 and web3.0. According to Prof. Dr. Rene Schneider it's not possible to put web4.0 into practice.
But at least we should try to make improvements for the customer.

Hopefully the libraries do not ignore these developments but are adapting.

Apart from the technical perspective on this issue there is a personal perspective on it. Something additional to how librarians view themselves comes from Mark Clowes, who compares librarians with DJs:

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Staying up-to-date with user's expectations (Inetbib-conference in Würzburg)

Right now I am at the University of Würzburg, Germany. There is held the Inetbib-conference.
The main topic is how to cope with new features of web2.0 and how to cope with increasing
customer's expectations.
I'm filled with new information, I've headache.
I will write about my impressions later on (in quieter moments).

But you can view some pictures at
At you can see the conference's programme.
Unfortunately it's only in German cos it's a small conference which focusses on german

with best regards,

Friday, 28 March 2008

How to find the "Time"-magazine in the Penn State Libraries

Look how "intiuitive" the catalog is: Finding Time Magazine in the Penn State Libraries

And mostly it isn't better in other libraries. No wonder, that so many library users are saying "the OPAC sucks". Fortunately several librarians start to notice that.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Workshop "Everyone's a librarian now" at Bobcatsss2008

At the workshop "Everyone's a librarian now" the audience was able to get some insights into how to operate in the context of an explosion of user-generated content and new, informal channels of information distribution. During the workshop several problems that are facing the librarians were discussed seriously and lively.
The workshop was held by Mark Clowes and Matthew Borg (both working as Information Advisors at Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom) at Bobcatsss2008 in Zadar, Croatia (

The workshop was well-structured and designed in a vivid way. At first the authors Mark Clowes and Matthew Borg gave a short, but good overview of web2.0 trends. This overview was followed by provoking slogans. After that the audience was asked to think in groups about several web2.0-technologies. Each group was asked to select two examples of web2.0-technology that was favoured for specific services. This should be done by thinking about following questions:
  • What skills or expertise does the librarian bring to the use of these tools?
  • What issues might arise in implementing them?
  • What will happen if librarians do not engage with them?
After this consideration the results were presented to the whole audience.

I will give a short summary of the workshop's most important facts and results:

In the world of librarianship there are several concerns about web developments such as tagging, social bookmarking and informal ways of information distribution such as blogging.

When the new dew developments arose there was (and sometimes there is still) a great surprise:
"two point OH"
-> with web2.0 you have for the first time in the history of the internet tools that enable real interaction

Until now there is confusion about what web2.0 really is. A concise and accepted defintion is still missing.
"two point what?"
-> It depends on what you are reading and talking about

More and more we as librarians realize which great role web2.0-technologies begin to play in our information society.
"two point, oh."
-> this leads librarians to considerations such as:
What do these developments mean to us?
Where does web2.0 leave us?
Are librarians still important? and if: how can we use these tools? how can we make these tools working for us, or rather, for our library?

For librarians these developments are scaring. With the new tools it's possible to collaborate, to comment, to rate, to mashup, even to catalogue...!
So, we librarians have to refocus on our core functions. To put it in John N. Berry's optimistic words:

"The young and the old, the digital and print, the techie and the traditional—whatever you call them, there are two cultures now. [...] Because of the two cultures, the librarian must take on a new, complex role as nonpartisan bridge builder, spanning the canyon between them to find and deliver accurate information, truth, to a world overwhelmed by misinformation, spin, and distraction." (

In Berry's eyes a librarians is a "seeker and deliverer of truth in a world of partisans and liars". To survive in future we have to meet this challenge. That means we have to refocus on our core functions:

  1. collection development
  2. cataloguing and classification (/custimizing)
  3. circulation
  4. reference work
  5. preservation, conservation and archiving
These core function's of the library leads us to our traditional tasks:
  1. selecting
  2. describing
  3. disseminating
  4. being an advisor
  5. preserving
Except for the latter task, all of these tasks can be fulfilled with web2.0-tools. (In web2.0-era it's quite hard to preserve information)
"role: over?"
-> So, once again: where do these developments leave us? What is our role in this changing environment?
Furtunately, there is a task left for us. Our primary task is (and will be) teaching, especially in a world of digital divide and a world of a (more or less) restricted access to information.
Regarding to the tasks that are met by the web2.0-tools: these tools are not perfect until now. Thus, one of our tasks from now on will be to complement these tools to create better tools for searching, selecting, describing and providing information. If we succeed in improving the tools and the skills of our customers we will be able to convert libraries into centres of information and knowledge.
But our customers are in some ways better informed (e.g. in terms of new developments) or more skilled than us (e.g. programming). That's why we should be willing to learn from our customers.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Librarians coping with their future

Terry Dawson wrote an interesting comment about Meredith Farkas' "Building 21st century librarians AND libraries" and "Skills for the 21st Century Librarian", which include:

Basic Tech Competencies

  • Ability to embrace change
  • Comfort in the online medium
  • Ability to troubleshoot new technologies
  • Ability to easily learn new technologies
  • Ability to keep up with new ideas in technology and librarianship (enthusiasm for learning)

Higher Level Competencies

Project management skills
  • Ability to question and evaluate library services
  • Ability to evaluate the needs of all stakeholders
  • Vision to translate traditional library services into the online medium
  • Critical of technologies and ability to compare technologies
  • Ability to sell ideas/library services
  • Meredith Farkas ends her posting with this compelling words:

    "Technologies will come and go. Change is inevitable. But if librarians can
    adapt to and embrace change, can easily learn technologies, can keep up with
    changes in the profession, can plan for new services and evaluate old services,
    can develop services that meet the needs of all stakeholders, can evaluate
    technologies, and can sell their ideas and market services they will be better
    able to meet the challenges of changing user populations and changing

    -well. if I read these requirements, that we have to fulfil I am about to give up ;-) No, seriously: It's a lot to do.

    Terry Dawson adds rightly to this:

    "But organizational structure issues can be thornier and more political.
    It's essential for libraries to retain authority over their own technology
    decisions, but easy to lose this authority to external IT decision-makers.
    We sometimes pay in availability of resources for the privilege of
    retaining authority. The challenge extends to giving staff the ability to
    implement service ideas; management prerogatives shouldn't stand in the way
    of service, but budgets often do."

    We often get to know these constraints.
    But we also have to be aware that innovations have to be in line with the mission of the institution and the its tradition.

    Hello Bloggers!

    Well, once you have to start with it. ;-) I was so long a passive reader of blogs -not that frequently, I have to admit.

    I'm not sure how much time I have for posting - "Additionally" I am writing my final dissertation.
    But I will read your comments -for sure :)
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