27 October 2010

Images from London & Berlin

I returned to work earlier this week after a rather hectic two weeks in both London and Berlin. Initially I had a workshop and a short presentation about our future library at the Internet Librarian International conference in London, and I made a lot of side-visits to some libraries and other recent buildings, some of which were recommended by our Library Retrieval System building architects, Hassell.
My visits in London included:
I then spent three nights in Berlin around visits to three relatively new academic libraries that my boss had identified as being of interest to us: the Philological Library of the Free University, the VW-Haus of the Technical University and the central University Library of Humboldt University in Berlin "Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum". In addition, I managed to visit the following sites:
I will present my findings to staff at some stage and also write a couple of blog posts about what I saw and learnt, but in the meantime, you may like to take a look at the images I've uploaded to Flickr (last ten sets): http://www.flickr.com/photos/malbooth/sets/

25 October 2010

Some musings post ILI2010

Bean Bags at LSE Library.
ILI2010 is now a week and hemisphere away, so here are a few thoughts it provoked from me:
  1. At some stage someone tweeted that our #ILI2010 hastag was picked up by a non-librarian who investigated and then reported that it was just some dull library conference and of no interest to anyone else. Some of us laughed that off, but doesn't it tell us something more serious about our profession and how we are regarded by others? Are we happy with or accepting of that view?
  2. I think that too often we just talk about us and our value (i.e. as "librarians") and this has virtually no, or very little focus on what we are doing to provide better services for our clients. Mostly we are preaching to the converted (us) and nobody else is much interested. Meanwhile, our online competition keeps developing or going around us. Stop being so library-centric, it won't work and isn't appropriate.
  3. Using more social media and completing online learning programs isn't the answer, nor the end point. And I think that an anonymous presence on social media is next to useless for a librarian. We need to start using these channels to provide valuable content or services and to make real and ongoing human connections with our communities. Creating content and providing those services isn't always easy and it takes much energy, patience, effort, and creativity. Start now. Seek permission and write your policy documents later. Forget a cost-benefit analysis and measuring ROI.
  4. Get out and find what your core community business or interest is (if you don't already know, or if you are locked into providing services to meet what it used to be 30 years ago). Then get involved in it. Digitise stuff, help facilitate much-needed services, help local community businesses or industry, educate, entertain or help researchers.
  5. Don't just sit around waiting for someone to ask you a question - get out and offer your help and assistance.
  6. Make yourself and your library more interesting and relevant to your community, whatever it is. Be active in collecting and developing a deeper interest in new media and games. Expose yourself as a real person. If you're dull you are asking to be left out. Sorry, but that is life's harsh reality.
  7. As a profession we were more active in multi-media pre-Guttenberg. Illuminated manuscripts facilitated or produced by "librarians" contained art, music, calligraphy, laws, science, worship, text, etc. We can learn from that and start again.
  8. I for one don't ever need to be reminded of Ranganathan's five laws of library science again. Let's move on now.
  9. We need to listen more to what our clients, patrons or users are saying and respond accordingly: better search and discovery tools (vice unfriendly ontologies); more useful applications; customisable services; personalised service; less library jargon; etc.
  10. Learn how to quickly and regularly scan the contemporary web and how to curate, create and collect content more actively.
  11. Amassing blog statistics and metrics won't save us either. Nor will publishing more theory about "library science" in academic journals.
  12. Learn how to take some risks: your own future is at stake here.
  13. I may well be wrong, but I think you can have a library without librarians. You can at least have one without irrelevant librarians. And as for librarians without libraries: oh please! Get real. That little discussion was all a bit precious for me.