In order to better integrate my blog with my website, better manage comment spam, and reduce my dependence on Google, this blog has moved to In order to avoid broken links I won't be deleting content from here, but no new content will be added, so please update your bookmarks and feeds.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

More on sharing

Yesterday we presented our conference feedback and I launched my "Let's share everything!" manifesto. By the end of the session we were running late so we eschewed taking questions in favour of adjourning for lunch, but the idea's out there and hopefully percolating. In the meantime I have LibGuides, focus groups, lesson plans, institutional repository verification, liaison, maybe-Facebook, hopefully-podcast, and oh-yes-outreach to set up before first semester starts.

But the other day I was reading (via LibraryTechNZ) a paper on IM a Librarian: Extending Virtual Reference Services through Instant Messaging and Chat Widgets. This linked to an open source tool and I navigated back up the chain to find a page the University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries has set up a page of open source software projects they've been working on. So there's one more precedent for the list.

And the fact that I came across it by such a chain of links has convinced me that, valuable as it is to get the stuff up onto the web anywhere, the real value will come when we can pool all of it into one place for easy findability.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Libraries and sharing

In December last year Dale Askey wrote a Code4Lib column, We Love Open Source Software. No, You Can’t Have Our Code which raised some discussion for a while.

But of course it's not just software.

Oh, I haven't personally experienced libraries refusing to share information. In fact when I was researching our "Library on Location" project, everyone I contacted was more than happy to give me stories, photos, even survey data. But... I did have to track them down from oblique references in old blogs and newsletters and email them, one by one.

And we put our own Library on Location reports online, which I'm glad we could do. But... we had to ask if we could do it, and only our conference paper is in any kind of official repository sort of space.

Is this consistent with our profession's attempts to convince academics to put their research papers and data into institutional repositories?

And is it an efficient, librarian-like way of organising the accumulated knowledge within the profession?

User surveys.
Projects that work.
Projects that don't work.
Projects that might work but we ran out of funding.
Projects that would work if we could share the workload with another institution.

This might have been why the Library Success wiki was created. It's a great idea, but its contributors are individuals, not libraries, so it just doesn't have the kind of oomph I'm thinking about.

What if...

What if every library in the world brought their anonymised circulation data, their IM reference statistics, their anonymised usability testing and survey results, their project reports, their lesson plans and handouts, and their iPhone applications out from their hard drives and their intranets and made them publically accessible?

What if they all licensed this stuff (and photos and podcasts and vidcasts and...) with a Creative Commons or GPL license?

What if they all created a single website where this stuff could be stored and searched in one place?

What if that website allowed space for libraries and librarians to comment and collaborate on and add to each other's work?

No, seriously, I mean it

At the end of the month my library's delegates to LIANZA2008 are going to report back to the rest of the staff about what we got out of the conference. I got 4 things out of conference, 3 of which were:
  1. Leadership - future taking vs future making
  2. Innovation - just do it
  3. Why are they presenting on this topic when we've gone further in our analogous project and have more experience of how it works in practice? Oh yes: because it never occurred to us to share.
So in my allotted 5 minutes of the reporting back, I plan to pitch the idea that we should move all our (sanitised if need be) project work from the intranet to open webspace.

What about the rest of the world?