I don’t know how many times this year I have thought, or heard someone else say, “These sure are interesting times for libraries!”
That’s usually meant as a euphemism for bleak, troubled, or never-to-be-the-same (in a bad way). But I try to remind myself that it can also mean exciting and full of opportunity – especially when I see academic librarians and library staff coming together as a community to identify what’s important to us. Seth Godin’s essay in The Library Book summarizes it well: Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data.
The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.
I’ve been an academic librarian for nine years, and I am currently Head of Research & Instructional Services in the Weldon Library (humanities and social sciences) at the University of Western Ontario. Here are a few markers of “interesting times” that stand out to me from my middle-management vantage point:
● changes to copyright legislation, and many “what does this mean for me?” questions from faculty and librarians
● librarians being sued by publishers
● tighter budgets campus-wide, not just in the library
● imminent retirements among senior library administration, with few (or no) obvious internal candidates to replace them
● the proliferation of new initiatives and services in libraries (for example, copyright offices, data management, e-learning, scholarly publishing, user experience), which are overshadowing stalwarts such as information literacy instruction and the reference desk
What do you think – do these issues stand out for you as challenges for academic librarians?
Let us know by taking our 60-second poll “Interesting Times”.
We also invite you to join in the on-going conversation about what matters to those of us who work in Ontario’s academic libraries. Join us at our Spring Dinner and don’t forget to submit a proposal for the 2014 OLA Super Conference – we hope you’ll share your ideas and let us know what’s on your mind.
This is your association. The more we hear from you, the more we can serve your interests.
Godin, Seth. “The future of the library.” In The Library Book. Profile Books: London, 2012. 45-49.
Kristin Hoffman, 2013 OCULA President.