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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Keynote address - TraNZform... or Die

Roy Tennant
Libraries were created to pool resources to be able to provide to people who can't afford them. - "buying clubs"
In past used to go to a library - Now go to google.
In past used t thmb through card catalogue - Now

  • Amazon, (some librarians say hard to find in catalogue so go to Amazon first and then catalogue once have title in hand) Many students familiar with finding boks on Amazon - know how easy and effective - then come to our library and are dismayed. Why hard in library?
  • Google Books - entire libraries being digitised (copyright problems.

Being social then - in libraries to get a date in foyer. :-) Now on MySpace You can initiate IM, find out when friends are online. Facebook (started in colleges, now opened up to all). Twitter (keep up with what friends are doing right now - useful at conferences to find out quickly which programmes you should be at; where to meet people at bar etc - if wireless acces ).
Reasons for users to come to us are dropping away.


  • We no longer conger control access to information - lots of other places to get it.
  • Have to collaborate outside of the profession. (Hence WorldCat and Google).
  • "Our need for inventory control should not define our discovery systems" - need one discovery environment that brings together books, journal articles, etc in one place - this is our users' first assumption. This is what Google does and they're used to.
  • Some of our professional standards are archaic. - ("MARC must die") - need to build infrastructure that allows Dublin Core, museum/art/etc standards - to index and display any metadata we come across. Willing to let MARC die of old age rather than murder.

What to do?

  • "Wake up and smell the coffee" - things are changing and have changed. New reality -
  • Our users

    • have lives - don't want to spend time learning how to use you - they have other things to do
    • don't enjoy pain - don't enjoy having to standaon heads to figure out archane system - want things to be easy.
    • satisfice - "this is good enough" - only willing to put in a certain amount of effort for a certain gain - effort/time different for each thing / dependent on mood.
    • seek efficiencies - want to make sure time is spent well.
    • are diverse - generational differences, but with caveats. Millenials are diverse too!
    • their needs are diverse too - change from one day to the next.

  • Our systems

    • we don't have one system but many: catalogue, databases, website, etc etc etc - and not obvious wheich to use when. Requires librarian intervention almost every time.
    • painful to use - view with fresh eye, as if new to uni - - esp in comparison o Google
    • don't offer everything users expect - expect everything at once. Or everything we have.
    • are tailored for our use, not theirs - designed by librarians for librarians - Berkeley system is a good bad example
    • don't enable activities similar sites allow (eg Amazon has wish list, can enter review, rating) - cognitive mismatch of what expect and what get.

  • Print collections

    • important but not as much as we think
    • enhangeced by access to other collections
    • increasingly exposed to wider audience so
    • will increasingly be called on by others (->doc delivery)

  • Our services

    • need review in light of user need
    • may not be what we've done in the past - forget same old. Will have to stop doing some things. Prioritise based on users
    • may be at network level, or regionally, or locally, or a combination - connect to consortia, world level, ... OCLC putting our library books into google. Increasing mix of where service happens.

Focus on strengths

  • the long tail - Amazon can have records of books that are no longer being actively published, eg used books, rare books, etc. Might sell one of a given title every couple of years, but the number of titles might make this greater volume than volume of popular titles. Personalisation features, user recommendations to move from popular to obscure.. Libraries likewise have a lot of unique stuff on offer.
  • More than 20 million worldcat records have only a single holding attached. - more than 25%10 or more 7 or more; 2% 100 or more.
  • bring unique content to network - eg kete project. Calisphere - digitised California history, wrapped into themed subpages, tailored to specific audiene and need.
  • participate in large aggregations - info re collections so people can discover us in new ways - find us on the interneteg WorldCa. (registry of libraries to give key info about libraries - keeps IP addresses. OpenURL link resolver to allow Google -> WorldCat -> your library.) (*Can these be used to instead of location information?)
  • get really really good at doc delivery - material getting exposed more so need to be good at shipping around
  • become part of the grid - machine ways that things knit together. - wouldn't it be good to see on worldcat results page whether book is on shelf or not. --API at NCSU API for their catalog to let software communicate with other software. Service so if send query re bok id it'll send back info to tell you if book is on shelf or not.
  • info may want to be free but it isn't - searching on Google scholar things still cost. - So this is still one of our strengths, to license resources on users' behalf.
  • recognise our biggest cost center: staff get efficient at using staff.Need to use staff to best advantage
  • strive for efficiency in basic or redundant activities eg "marking and parking" (accessioning); chicking books in and out;
  • Find place on curve and adjust it as need be. (Curve of innovativeness - innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards) "Neither an early adopter nor a laggard be" - wait for bugs to be shaken out but don't wait so long that it's no longer popular!
  • create an agile organisation -

    • use standing committees for communication -
    • create task forces to accomplish work - can get the right people. When taks finished, disbands.
    • Use best people for the job - janitor if need be if they have knowledge that's important for that task.
    • reward innovation. - people who take risks and put heart and soul into work
    • punish loitering - at least don't advance them. (Libraries bad at that because we hate confrontation)
    • take risks - some things won't go anywhere, but need to try
    • invest in infrastructure - eg people. Don't make expensive resource be wasted waiting for computer to slow computer. Let staff come to conferences, professional development

  • Become agile yourself

    • take responsibility for own professional development - need to be absorbing info all the time
    • make strategic learning decisions - can't learn everything, so triage. Quick look, enough info to assess whether it's something that'll impact soon. - Ignore some things to pay attention to important ones
    • learn as you breathe - all the time without thinking of it.. Pick up journal, blog, etc to keep up to date
    • take risks (individually) - "beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission" - usually works out...
    • strive for flexibility; thrive on uncertainty - world changing
    • be ahead of the organisation - organisations are slow, conservative by nature for good reason. They can get stultified so individuals have to be pushed, dragged, et forward.

What will work

  • know clientele - recognise they change over time
  • learn new technologies - what's available and appropriate to serve needs
  • imaginatively apply those technologies to serve unique needs of users - users won't tell us what to do, they don't know what the ossibilities are. Find out how they think, work, and we apply experience/knowledge to problem
  • provide easy access to what they want, how and when they wan it. - to their desktop where possible.
  • market services well!!! Often great services that no-one knows about

  • rinse and repeat

Re vendors not being innovation - Vendors want to be successful ie to sell product to you. If they hear from customer that product is substandard then they'll listen. [From vendors' perspective they feel we're pushing against innovation.] Can often push them forward by doing things outside vendor systems eg NCSU with Endeca - got lost of attention and got attention by other vendors. Open source eg Koha, Evergreen - when vendors see this they get nervous and busy. So don't be quiet - talk to vendors about what we want

Re putting services out to where clients are - how does this scale - myspace and facebook etc, what do we pick, and what when everyone's left facebook? OCLC can play at this level in the way individual libraries can't. So cooperative solution rather than individual library, to let libraries be there but don't have to put effort in individually.
Followup: currently works with WorldCat and holdings - but is the same model going to work with Vufind etc? --Holdings via Worldcat, individual library via Facebok API. So complementary.

Digital Content Strategy - how would you mash up a whole country? Once things described could be mashed up in all sorts of ways through harvesting. People should be able to find things in all sorts of different ways. Once stuff described then all sorts of opportunities to expose in all sorts of other systems. This one strengths of intrnet to focus on own content and everyone benefit from what everyone else is doing.

(My thoughts

  • market in Canta - regular columns!
  • study how students study (cf study already done elsewhere if I can find it again...)