This year’s ALIA
Information Online Conference (http://www.information-online.com.au)
began on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. Words from his address no
doubt rang in the ears of those who applauded his ascension at the
conference dinner. Images from his campaign slogan – “Change You Can Believe
In” – appeared in the Powerpoint slides of several prognosticating
presenters. More than a thousand delegates became involved in thinking about
the challenges of change.
TO THE CHALLENGES
Our challenges may be new [and] the
instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which
our success depends…are old.[i]
Values were mentioned in a
number of presentations. For most presenters, though, values were simply
instincts that explained the things they did or wanted to do.
Reading the signals
Senator Stephen Conroy, the
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, officially
launched the conference and stepped through evolving Rudd Government online
policies as a context for operating library and related information
digital economy strategies over the past decade were reported in the
previous issue of Online Currents.[ii]
Since that article was written, the Government has released a Digital
Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper as another step towards a
strategy. Senator Conroy flagged anticipated elements – improving open
access to public sector information, building digital confidence and skills,
providing a regulatory framework, and measuring the digital economy and its
impacts. The strategy is expected to be published soon.
In the meantime, projects
awaiting decisions include the National Broadband Network and an internet
service provider filtering pilot. The Government’s $125.8 million
Cyber-Safety Plan attracted mixed reaction in the auditorium. Senator Conroy
sought to mollify antagonists by assuring everyone that the Government is
taking an evidence-based approach in finalising policy by testing concerns
about technical issues and freedom of speech.
Michael Ossipoff, Director
of Capability and Innovation at Telstra, a company jettisoned from the
broadband bid, said in his keynote address that two things will drive
fundamental change: broadband – available like water in a tap and with
sufficient speed to do anything we want - and generational change. Broadband
is now widely available at relatively slow speeds. But a month after the
conference, those waiting for the slides or a recording of Michael
Ossipoff’s presentation on the conference website have been left with only
the memory of the subliminal message of the company logo on the slides.
Connectivity is one thing. Delivering content is another.
Andy Hines, a consultant
with Social Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Futures Studies at the
University of Houston, amplified issues associated with generational change
in his talk Anticipating the Future of Librarians. The profession
needs to look at the future through six lenses: values, demography,
lifestyle, technology, work, and education. The economy was “the big gorilla
in the room”.
Changing values, he said,
change the predictability of the future. The old trust for the institution
has been replaced by more trust for one another and scepticism about
technology. Demographic changes have produced unexpected behaviours. Don’t
be fooled by appearances. Lifestyles now emphasise “practical happiness”,
involving shared creativity, ethics and a slower paced life.
Technology is producing more porous boundaries between real and virtual
Treating it as a game?
Liz Lawley, Director
of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology,
urged delegates to treat libraries as a game. People do better when they are
happy. They are already predisposed towards games. A number of libraries are
currently using game concepts as part of their operations.
Janine Schmidt, Director of
Libraries at McGill University in Montreal, was also attracted to the idea
of games. She used Second Life as a metaphor for exploring new directions.
Today’s library products and services, she said, must be designed for
today’s environment. Libraries must stop seeking perfection: near enough is
usually good enough and perfection remains the enemy of the good. The
transition will not be easy. It will be chaotic and messy. But the
transition provides ample opportunity for collaboration and creativity. “If
the Library does not take on a Second Life, it may well be in its Last
Driving this change, she
said, emphasising a point by Andy Hines, are changing user dynamics. A
number of reports and surveys provide the evidence of the need for change.
Social networking is the single most significant issue. Everyone today is
both a knowledge producer and a consumer. Everyone is an expert. Everyone is
communicating much of the time with people he or she might rarely, or never,
see. Everyone relies on Google, but most lack web literacy. They are
impatient and demanding. Behaviour patterns of the young are becoming the
norm for all.
Although today’s libraries
have moved beyond their print environs, she said, more innovative thinking
and new approaches are needed. Clients must be the focus. Although libraries
remain important physical spaces, they must change these spaces to suit new
user habits. Staff must be closer to users. Some activities must be
abandoned to accommodate new ones. Collaboration will be central to the
Second Life libraries, which must make holdings available locally and at the
same time searchable through Worldcat and other channels. Websites must
become more consistent and useable. Effective information literacy programs
will become even more important. The biggest area of change, to use Second
Life terminology, will be with avatars – the librarians. Second Life
librarians must be nimble and outwardly-focused.
One of the reports cited in
Janine Schmidt’s paper was No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research
Libraries for the 21st Century.[iii]
In asserting the need for more effective collaboration between
librarians, faculties and information technology experts, the report
proposes that libraries be redefined as multi-institutional entities.
Redundancies could be eliminated by calibrating resources, staff and
infrastructure to a collective enterprise of federated institutions.
To drive change, the report
suggests, librarians must become less risk-averse. At the moment, they are
constrained by a sense of ownership that has kept them from engaging in
truly collective work. Digitisation activities are currently stymied by the
lack of effective print repositories, models for organising them and
copyright constraints. Libraries must allocate more funds for
experimentation and innovation. At the centre of new services could be a
renewed investment in metadata – making material available to the scholarly
community in a systematic way. However, production of data and metadata on a
very large scale for broad use needs a high level of organisation, and
libraries currently do not have institutions that can deliver that
organisation. The traditional separation of libraries and commercial
entities needs to be reconsidered.
Those waiting to review
Michael Ossipoff’s thoughts on broadband and its relevance to libraries will
be well served by a recent article from OCLC’s chief strategist Lorcan
Dempsey, who treats the future as less of a game in “Always On: Libraries in
a World of Permanent Connectivity”.[iv]
Among the challenges, he says, is the need to synthesise a range of products
and services from multiple sources. Sourcing decisions are getting more
complex as the service environment diversifies. There has been
experimentation with social networking services, but libraries may not be in
the best position to continue their efforts because enough users may not
perceive the incentives that motivate participation in other environments.
Unlike other enterprises, libraries have limited flexibility in what they
Questions about approaches
by libraries to manage the new generation of learning materials and print
collections need to be answered, especially at an aggregated or group
arrangement at consortial, State, and national levels. In searching for
answers, Dempsey says, libraries are faced with a paradox as network
services grow in sophistication: the need to make themselves invisible and,
at the same time, more visible.
Getting on the Web 2.0 bandwagon
It became apparent that Mal
Booth enjoys a game when he confessed to being provocative in his address
about digital convergence at the Australian War Memorial.
The Memorial’s information
management strategy involves an enterprise content management system and a
digitisation program to convert war diaries, military rolls, photographs,
art works, relics, sound recordings and other material. The use of social
media has become a priority. Each department is expected to
participate in the development of the Memorial’s website and to pursue
opportunities for collaboration and community engagement using blogs, wikis,
Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Delicious, Ning and other Web 2.0 services.
He urged delegates to just
jump in and start using these technologies. It is sometimes easier to seek
forgiveness, he said, than gain permission. He believes that “users will get
bored with conversations and catalogue records. They want the stuff. They
expect it to be online. Now. And preferably for free”. It is our
responsibility to be there. “It should not be seen as the exclusive domain
of strange-looking people who live only in Second Life and spend too much
time Twittering about rubbish.” Words of advice?
Be less precious about copyright. Don’t
over-analyse. Don’t obsess about metadata. Learn by doing (forget about
doing a course). Do it yourself or build lasting partnerships. Get involved
and compromise. Don’t try to replicate analogue processes. Don’t put revenue
generation up front. Position yourself to be an innovator.
Several other presenters
from major institutions and public libraries talked about their engagement
with social networking technologies.
Paul Hagon considered four
experiments by the National Library of Australia into the design and use of
its websites. The first two, involving Picture Australia, led to a new
interface to reduce the complexity of search options, but an experiment with
del.icio.us to improve bookmarking was only partially successful. “We need
to be patient before drawing conclusions about del.icio.us as it is not
commonly used on library websites and our users will take some time to
discover it. It may also be beneficial to extend the experiment to other
bookmarking sites such as Digg, ma.gnolia and Facebook.”
The third experiment also
involved del.icio.us, this time for AskNow, and led to a simple mechanism
for reference librarians to work together to create a consolidated list of
quality resources. The new list reduces duplicate effort and is easier to
maintain than an in-house system. The fourth experimented with Flickr,
Google Maps and Google Streetview to create mashups using Powerhouse Museum
images to help users select a location in Sydney and then compare the
historical image with its current day equivalent. Cultural institutions, he
said, are presented with a wealth of opportunity in using application
programming interfaces and participating in the mashup culture.
Karen Stone, in her
presentation on the State Library of Queensland’s One Search initiative,
outlined policies that had been developed to manage and track client input
to its new social spaces. At the State Library of Victoria, Linda Angeloni
and Lili Wilkinson have been involved in the websites, ergo (http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/ergo/)
and insideadog (http://www.insideadog.com.au/) to encourage younger
generations to use the library’s collections and develop critical skills.
Wendy Quihampton and Anne Beaumont, also from the State Library of Victoria,
described the use of DigiTool as a digital object management system for the
library’s extensive digitisation program.
Local government library
efforts were represented by Ellen Forsyth and Ross Balharrie, who described
collaborative efforts by Manly Library, the State Library of New South Wales
and Clarence Regional Library, to improve reference services using Web 2.0
tools. Lynette Lewis and Leslie Sharples spoke about the employment of wikis,
blogs, LibraryThing, MySpace, Faceback, podcasts and Wikipedia at Yarra
Plenty Regional Library Service.
Ben O'Carroll and Angela
Vilkins provided details of a current awareness service using blog and RSS
technologies at the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet Library
and Research Services.
John Law was one of several
presenters who were critical of library websites. Making them compelling
starting places for users will require better marketing, library access
points in end-user applications, and information literacy programs. Jane
Burke was critical of cumbersome interfaces and authentication barriers in
her presentation about e-resource access and management services (ERAMS).
She suggested that less time be spent on processing print materials and more
time be spent on marketing and managing e-resources. James Robertson offered
examples of superior sites in his presentation What Do Innovative
Intranets Look Like?
Other presenters looked at
a low-cost, easily maintained collaborative platform to enhance
communication, knowledge sharing and professional development for a
geographically dispersed library team (Chris Zegelin); strategies and tools
to manage the change process (Sally Schofield); the merits of Cisco Unified
MeetingPlace as a tool for collaboration (Leanne Griffiths); and blended
physical and virtual spaces based on the web 2.0 concepts (Geoff Mitchell
and Cathy Crawford).
Addressing metadata questions
Mal Booth’s provocation
that delegates become less obsessed with metadata set some hearts
palpitating. One conference blogger wrote in Mal’s defence:
Some found [his] comments on metadata
unsettling [but] let me say that just as we have lost the search portal wars
to players such as Google, we seem to be oblivious to the fact that we are
quickly loosing…the tagging and client content war to players such as Flickr
who make it so easy for people to upload content and who do not ask for ‘12
core metadata fields’ in the process!
Conferences need their
provocateurs. But, those who were unsettled by his comments were probably
thinking along the following lines. Metadata have many types and elements.
Tagging is one of them. Exposing collections on Flickr is one worthwhile
approach, but not the main game. Different types of researchers walk up a
number of avenues to get their information. The need for librarians and
kindred collecting organisations to create better metadata solutions in an
aggregated world is underscored in numerous reports and articles. Not
everyone in the profession needs to be obsessed with metadata solutions, but
some specialists need to find the right answers. The assertion that
libraries are in competition with Google ignores the fact that Google seems
to have encouraged more people to visit some libraries.
Recent research by Besiki
Stvilia and Corinne Jörgensen on user-generated metadata in Flickr offers
some insights on the habits of taggers and the need for more research on the
Greta de Groat’s report on the future direction of metadata remediation,
discussing the Digital Library Federation Aquifer, underscores the fact that
successful aggregation depends on the development of robust, consistent
metadata. “Infrastructure for work collocation…is still underdeveloped and
will probably need to wait for the widespread adoption of the new standard
for resource description, Resource Description and Access.”[vi]
At the conference Deirdre
Kiorgaard flagged impending cataloguing changes through Resource
Description and Access. Anna Gifford asserted that controlled
vocabularies need to be kept current and fresh to be meaningful to user
groups. “In an environment of changing literacies, [solutions for controlled
vocabularies] provide the greatest opportunity for [creating] better
harmonisation between the users, the creators, and the online environment.”
Evan Bailey and Sue Carpenter drew attention to an experiment with automated
metadata creation at the Knowledge Sharing Services, Centre for Learning
Innovation, New South Wales Department of Education and Training. They
concluded that people-powered search is still the best approach, but the use
of technology for metadata creation is worth exploring further.
Managing digital resources
Sherman Young, author of
The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book (UNSW Press, 2007), considered
long-term prospects for the book. After tracing its development through four
historical phases to the internet age, which encompasses the best of
previous phases, he speculated on the environment for the next stage, the
semantic web, by screening an Apple computer knowledge navigator video
produced in 1987 to promote a vision for invisible, ubiquitous knowledge
We won’t understand Web 3.0, he said, until we build it. New forms of books
are now being created for the electronic domain. We need to ensure they
retain their rightful place in the scheme of things.
User acceptance of e-books
in Australian universities was examined by several speakers. Martin Borchert
and Alison Hunter said their research had found a high level of awareness,
but relatively low usage at Griffith University and the University of
Southern Queensland. Iris Perkins reported that barriers identified by a
group of students at La Trobe University included the difficulty of reading
from the screen for extended periods and the lack of recommended e-books on
reading lists. According to Meg Boness, the University of Western Sydney
Library created more widespread use of e-books and e-resources following a
campaign to promote their availability.
Issues explored by other presenters included the
challenges surrounding shareable online learning objects (Catherine Clark);
the challenges of providing streamed video (Diana Blackwood); the need for
libraries to reorganise services to demonstrate value, based on
restructuring at the University of New South Wales (Lyn Bosanquet); the
impact of Australian journals in the social sciences and humanities (Paul
Genoni, Gaby Haddow and Petra Dumbell); efficiencies to be gained by
capturing, creating, storing metadata in only one location for reuse (Elke
Dawson); and managing client queries and feedback in a single system (Daisy
Tyson). Amanda Lawrence explained information architecture, usability and
web 2.0 technologies at Australian Policy Online (http://www.apo.org.au);
Gerry Ryder called for repositories to become involved in science data
management; and Jane Garner, Shirley Sullivan and Eve Young gave an account
of their experience publishing an online journal using Open Journal Systems
software at the University of Melbourne.
Efforts to respond to the government-driven
requirement that Australian universities capture and measure research
outputs, often involving institutional repositories, were described by
Carole Gibbs and Kate Sergeant (a scripted solution at the University of
South Australia Library), Karin Smith and Tony Cargnelutti (a collaborative
solution between Charles Sturt University Library and UNILINC), Rebecca
Parker and Helen Wolff (on taking the repository to the researchers), Katie
Wilson (who also championed an “academic-friendly” or do-it-for-you approach
to encourage improved deposit rates), and Teula Morgan and Robin Wright
(practical risk management strategies for open access repositories).
Describing efforts outside
academia, Graham Spooner and Gillian Wood gave their thoughts on managing
digital resources and systems in the health sector. Colin Potter and
Caroline Foxon talked about the Nambour Chronicle Digitisation Project. Jake
Wallis and Bob Pymm generated discussion on the question of very large data
stores and their usefulness as exemplified by the whole of domain web
archiving undertaken by the National Library of Australia, and Tony Iezzi
outlined work on making print-based information accessible at Vision
Management of intellectual
property was explored by Caroline Morgan, from Copyright Agency Limited, who
examined myths about copyright and outlined steps being taken to get the
balance right. Kent Fitch drew attention to the failure of digital rights
management technology, flaws in current copyright laws and the need for a
digital lending right, operating like the public lending right. Margaret
Warren discussed the development of a risk management strategy for the use
of orphan works at the State Library of Queensland, and Jessica Coates
discussed steps being taken internationally to lower the barriers presented
by copyright law, as explored in the International Study on the Impact of
Copyright Law on Digital Preservation.
Teaching and reaching customers
Several speakers championed
anew the cause of information literacy programs. Beatriz Aroche and Helene
Brown explored the use of Second Life and virtual environments in a program
developed at TAFE NSW Libraries. Natalie McDonald and Peter Keenan gave the
example of Beyond Google, a course at the NSW Business Chamber, designed to
improve search engine skills, broaden understanding of information sources
in the library, and deal with information overload. Leona Jennings, from
Gold Coast City Council Libraries, elaborated on IT literacy initiatives
underway in public libraries within the United Kingdom. Kate Davis reported
on blogging strategies to engage youth in the Gold Coast, and Philip Kent
and Michael Samarchi demonstrated the benefits of managing client
satisfaction at Victoria University Library.
At a time when job losses
are likely to lead to less trust and increased protection of personal
knowledge, several speakers gave their perspectives on the continued
application of knowledge management in some corporations and government
environments such as Macquarie Bank (Justin Harness), Parsons Brickenhoff
Australia Pacific (Cory Banks) and NERA Economic Consulting (Barbara Hirsh).
Nerida Hart explained the use of narrative techniques, anecdote circles,
sensemaking and intervention design as tools for continuous improvement at
Knowledge and Information Services, which provides library, research and
knowledge services to five Australian government agencies including the
Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. James
Bosanquet outlined experience with the management of clinical documents in a
knowledge management system at the Cancer Institute NSW.
Forging new roles, skills and attitudes
At the end of the
conference, a panel nibbled at the question: “Are we (the information
profession) cool enough to attract the Y and Z generations?” Liz Lawley
reiterated her view that, to recruit the new generation and those who only
want to be part-time librarians, libraries need to be developed as flexible
places of fun. Andy Hines, on the other hand, thought that being cool was an
overrated concept. People want to do meaningful work, they want to work with
people they enjoy and they want to move around.
In an earlier presentation,
Ross Coleman, Director of Sydney eScholarship at the University of Sydney,
offered “a personal view with sweeping generalisations” about the cultural
challenges of new roles. Libraries have been responsive to changes over the
past decade, but web technologies and services are changing more than just
communication and publishing practices. They are changing the way research
and study is conceptualised, how new knowledge is created, and the
relationships around research practice and innovation. University libraries
seem reluctant or unsure about the best way of embracing this change.
Software and services are out of touch with faculty needs. Institutional
repositories tend to be under-resourced.
Changes in library and
information science courses received coverage from Mark Pegrum and Ralph
Kiel who gave details of an e-learning professional development course at
the University of Western Australia. Simon Shurville and Heather Brown spoke
about collaboration between the University of South Australia and State
Library of South Australia to provide post-graduate programs that encourage
a capacity for problem-solving with allied professions.
Gillian Hallam spoke about
the neXus2 workforce study, funded by the ALIA and NSLA, designed to develop
a clearer understanding of issues affecting workforce sustainability,
capability and optimisation. According to the study, larger organisations,
such as academic libraries and those in NSLA consortium, are better placed
to commit to ongoing training and development and smaller libraries face
greater challenges in overcoming deficiencies in the provision of
The organisers of the
conference are to be congratulated for continuing to allocate up to $10,000
for the ALIA IOG Excellence Award – a trip to an international conference of
choice. It is worth acknowledging this year’s nominations. The award went to
the Australian Taxation Office eLibrary Team for its eLibrary solution, a
personalised service to more than 25,000 ATO desktops throughout Australia
using a single search box, blogs, folksonomies and wikis.[viii]
The other shortlisted nominations were Engineering Australia’s Elena
Evedenskaia for a project with RMIT Publishing to incorporate Engineering
Australia’s collection of 17,000 technical papers into the Informit
e-library, and the University of Sydney’s Southnary Tan for the successful
launch of iResearch, a suite of online learning objects to support student
information literacy skills. Details of all 22 nominations can be found on
the conference blog.
The buzz around change and innovation
The world has changed, and we must change
Three widely expressed
assumptions at the conference were that transformative change is needed,
changing behaviours of users will drive this change, and librarians should
jettison their risk-averse bent in favour of being more innovative. They
have been a common thread in information online conferences for the past
The other side of the coin
probably needs exposure. Libraries, even public libraries, are part of
someone else’s business. Librarians have limited control over what they
spend and are not well placed to take risks. Although Google is frequently
touted as a competitor to libraries, continued visitation rates suggest
that, by and large, they occupy a different niche. Many future researchers
and users are likely to continue to use libraries in much the same way as
they do now.
Calls for change pinpointed
the need for environmental scanning, marketing and hiring the right people –
management issues that have been part and parcel of previous mindsets. The
need for a new type of person may underestimate the quality of
service-oriented, problem-solving librarians who worked in the different
environment of the past. Certainly there was evidence at the conference that
the profession is now populated by people who are exercising imagination to
deliver services to their customers.
It was Walt Crawford, in
2006, who urged librarians to take a deep breath. His 32-page essay “Library
2.0 and ‘Library 2.0’” expressed the view that libraries have never
been the primary source of information for most people and he rejected the
notion that most American public libraries either require or would benefit
from a revolution. Some new tools and concepts won’t work, some will. Keep
an open mind to ideas and tools outside the library field. Consider the
benefits of change. But don’t assume that all change is inherently good.[x]
Innovation was another of
the conference buzz words.
It was the Roman playwright
Terence who implied that innovation is not doing what is already done. Most
of the presentations at the conference were about catching up to speed with
someone else’s innovation. Scott Burken, spruiking his book, The Myths of
Innovation (O’Reilly Media Inc, 2007), recently asserted that innovation
is entirely overrated. It’s a vague, subjective term, he said, that
distracts from what you’re really doing. Instead of asking how we can be
innovative, a toothless and vague question with mostly useless answers, we
should be asking how we can make great things. He thought that departments
of innovation are a waste of money.[xi]
My thought is that buzz
words have their place in encouraging a focus on important issues awaiting
fresh consideration and reinvention. But we need to take them on board
rather than take them at face value.
The need to spend money wisely
And those of us who manage the public’s
dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do
our business in the light of day.[xii]
Peter Drucker once asserted
that innovation is a term of economics rather than technology. Library
conferences rarely consider questions about money, at least at a macro
level. The nature of the library profession and libraries, as mentioned
several times in this article, makes it difficult for the sector to respond
to challenges in broad economic terms, but it is something it must tackle.
Vivienne Waller and Ian
McShane, in a recent article, have argued that:
While library sector rhetoric rightly
imagines that digital technologies bring change to all aspects of library
operations, it is not enough to focus on the technologies. Large public
libraries need to obtain a thorough understanding of the nature of the
environment in which they operate; in particular, an understanding of the
ways in which both the ecology and economy of information are changing. [xiii]
It was therefore
instructive to hear John Houghton’s talk about a Joint Information Systems
Committee project, which has investigated budgetary and wider economic
implications of models for scholarly publication. Although an analysis of
the costs and benefits of alternative scholarly publishing models faces
considerable challenges, “there are gains to be realised from moving towards
more open access publishing models and…despite the lag between the costs and
the realisation of benefits, the transition would probably be affordable
within current system-wide budgetary allocations”. The report makes several
recommendations for overcoming the current barriers. Part of the mix could
be enhancing metadata standards and quality, organising more effective
federated services, making resources easier to find, and using metrics for
research evaluation. International cooperation is of great importance if we
are to realise the benefits of more open access.
Working creatively with others
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a
strength, not a weakness. [xiv]
The need for more effective
cooperation has also been a widely accepted assumption for some time.
One of the highlights was
Laura Campbell’s presentation on Library of Congress digital initiatives
over the past two decades, including the American Memory project, Thomas,
the Learning Page, the National Digital Newspaper program, and increased
access to and interaction with users through the use of Flickr, YouTube and
other channels. The Library of Congress leverages this experience through
two main network strategies.
The National Digital
Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, now more commonly
called the National Preservation Program (http://www.digitalpreservation.gov),
has more than 30 partners involved in: the collection and preservation of
important digital content at risk of loss; digital preservation research;
development of an interoperable technical infrastructure; and exploration of
intellectual property issues. Diverse partnerships are involved in the
preservation of geospatial data, political websites, business and economic
history, cultural material, public television and social services data sets.
This “national alliance of content stewardship” now has 248 terabytes of
at-risk digital content. This is expected to reach 650 terabytes by 2013.
The World Digital Library (http://www.worlddigitallibrary.org/)
is a network of 25 partners offering significant primary materials of
different cultures from institutions around the world to increase global
understanding among all cultures. The multilingual site has a range of
unique historical material contributed by the partners. The project is being
developed in cooperation with UNESCO and will be launched in April 2009. The
screening of the concept video at the conference drew spontaneous applause,
presumably because delegates saw a future in one international library.
Laura Campbell said these projects have
involved evolutionary phases of transformation. “Most of us work in
non-profit or government organisations where change is not as easy as it is
elsewhere. We need to make choices about what business we are in. Technology
is not the hard part, it’s the people. Creative collaboration is the key to
future invention and innovation.”
Further evidence of
creative collaboration was represented at the conference by the local
efforts of two State libraries.
Ian Patterson and Prue
Mercer described the State Library of Victoria's slv21 strategy, a
four-year, $25.1 million, government-funded program to accelerate the
library’s digital online service, which began in 2006. The project required
extensive planning, organisational restructuring and an investment in
technology to support 30 sub-projects of varying size and complexity.
Restructuring meant redeployment of staff, use of casual staff in shifts,
and some activities were outsourced.
Four major IT projects
resulted in the development and implementation of a digital object
management system, a federated search system, a digitised-items-on-demand
system, recasting the library’s web presence, and the purchase of additional
PCs and wireless network and broadband capacity. An Open Source content
management system will be launched in 2009.
The project set out to
achieve increases of 20% in online access, 10% per annum in onsite access,
20% in the number of students attending education sessions, as well as 75%
of unique Victorian material digitised and available online, and a balanced
budget by 2010. Most of these goals are on track. To date, 40% of unique
Victorian material has been digitised. Collaboration with the Victorian Land
Titles Office and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel has made the Victorian
Government Gazette freely available online.
The State Library of
Queensland acts as a catalyst on a wider front through its Memory Outreach
project, with funding from the State Government's Blueprint for the Bush
program. The project encourages public libraries and local museums, history
groups and archives to become partners in its Picture Queensland service (http://www.pictureqld.qld.gov.au).
As outlined by Gavin
Bannerman and Margie Barram, organisations can contribute MARC records
exported from their library systems or provide structured data for
conversion to qualified Dublin Core. Alternatively, they may create
qualified Dublin Core records and submit these, via a web form, to a
metadata repository. Joint agreements specify arrangements for storage,
processes, contributions, and responsibilities. Contributions are made by
organisations all the way north along the coast, including Aboriginal
communities, and training is provided to contributing organisations.
In the future, the State
Library of Queensland is planning to expand the service to include more
images from government departments, historical societies, museums and
galleries and from those held by individuals. Following the most recent
local government boundary changes, it will be working with newly amalgamated
library services to bring various types of cultural heritage resources
In his article calling for
more effective networked services,[xv]
Lorcan Dempsey said it is always tempting to talk about the need for
transition. This is misleading, he said, because it suggests a stable end
state. It is probably more reasonable to talk about continuous change. It is
important to focus effort where it will have most impact, and not to
duplicate effort needlessly or work on solutions that may be overtaken by
Australia has a firm
foundation in its federated system of national and State libraries and
various collaborative online services. The place to focus efforts may be in
the major institutions, with funding in targeted areas, to nudge smaller
libraries, archives and museums towards a more efficient and effective
future. Understanding the economics may be more important than being
Inauguration Speech (Washington DC, USA, 20 January 2009).
Bentley P, “The
Digital Economy Dance: Getting Into Step with Government Policy” (2009)
23(1) Online Currents 13.
[iii] Council on Library
and Information Resources, No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research
Libraries for the 21st Century (August 2008), http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub142/pub142.pdf
viewed 10 March 2009.
[iv] Dempsey L, “Always On:
Libraries in a World of Permanent Connectivity” (2009) 14(1) First
viewed 10 March 2009.
Stvilia B and Jörgensen
C, “User-generated Collection Level Metadata in an Online Photo-sharing
System” (2009) 31(1) Library & Information Science Research 54,
10 March 2009.
[vi] de Groat G, Future
Directions in Metadata Remediation for Metadata Aggregators (Digital
Library Federation, 2009), http://www.diglib.org/pubs/dlf110.pdf
viewed 10 March 2009.
[viii] We hope to cover
this in more detail in the next issue of Online Currents.
Crawford W, “Library
2.0 and ‘Library 2.0’” (2006) 6(2) Cites and Insights: Crawford at
Large Issue 72, http://cites.boisestate.edu/civ6i2.pdf
[xi] Berkun S, “Why
Innovation is Overrated” (Harvard Business Publishing, 14 July 2008),
viewed 10 March 2009; and Berkun S, “Should Obama Create a Department of
Innovation?” (Harvard Business Publishing, 4 December 2008), http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/berkun/
viewed 10 March 2009.
[xiii] Waller V and McShane
I, “Analysing the Challenges for Large Public Libraries in the
Twenty-First Century: A Case Study of the State Library of Victoria in
Australia” (2008) 13(12) First Monday, http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2155/2060
viewed 10 March 2009.
Dempsey, n 4.
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