Library 2.X: What Now?

A "Models for Change" retreat for librarians from Brigham Young University,

Utah State University, and the University of Utah

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This blog was used for the original Utah research library retreat: "Planning for Research Success in the 21st Century: A Retreat for Librarians from Utah." It will continue to be used for the follow-up retreat: "Library 2.X: What Now?" Please use it to exchange ideas before, during, and after the retreat. If you would like permission to post to the blog, contact Steven Harris.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lunch Discussion

Our lunch table of eight consisted of a mix of librarians, administrative staff, and collection development staff from UofU and BYU. Our primary discussion was in response to David Lewis' "Parts of the Puzzle" strategy number 5 for keeping an academic library relevant in the early 21st century: Migrate the focus of collections from purchasing materials to curating content.

We focused on the many benefits and hurdles currently associated with this strategy. One "luncher" brought up the recent report at UofU that about 50% of the books purchased from 1999 to 2004 had not circulated in their first five years on the shelf. This led to a discussion about moving from approval plans to purchase-on-demand. It was suggested that libraries need to have a conversation about which subject areas they want to purchase "just in case" titles and which "just in time" (on demand). At the UofU, for instance, we perhaps should focus on President Young's initiatives (as mentioned in his inaugural speech and others since then).

Which libraries will work together to decide who collects in which disciplines? In other words, is it state-by-state? Regional? By classification (Research I, Associates Colleges, Master's Colleges, etc.)? By continent? Also, which schools will collect in prestigious, money-generating disciplines (science, medicine and business) and which will focus on less-profitable areas fields (arts, humanities, and social sciences)? How far do collaborating schools overlap in collections? Does this strategy apply equally to serials as it does to monographs? Finally, how will this affect ARL standings (and will academic libraries commit to a distributed collection model before ARL changes how it ranks libraries)?

Further questions and hurdles arise when technology is added to the equation: Will there be a model for ILL'ing e-books and streaming video subscription content in the future? If not, then how can distributed collections work to benefit patrons at all the participating libraries?

As for "curating content," academic libraries are already doing this. One luncher noted that for this strategy to work, there would have to be less emphasis on commercial publishers. Special Collections, Institutional Repositories, Digital Technologies and University Press departments/divisions need work together (or be one entity) to make their unique content more accessible through online portals.

Ultimately, this strategy raises many feasibility questions and quandaries that we need to address before it can be fully employed.


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