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The following are comments and reflections expressed at a meeting of Research and Collections Staff. I have tried to organize the comments by themes but clearly these themes are interrelated and do not fall necessarily into one theme or another. It was agreed that none of the names of the participants are included.
What the library is:
What about the traditional role of the library ? building collections and making them accessible. This has to continue.
In addition to building collections we need to provide new services ? examples?affording users to create their own personal collections; creating communities of users.
Metaphor ? the elephant and the gazelle. There have to be people who are capable of changing quickly and there are others who will move more slowly. But everyone has to feel a part of the process.
Our library?s uniqueness lies in part and importantly for its research collection and primarily those in languages other than English. We need to keep collecting in ways and in places that technology hasn?t yet reach and will probably not reach for decades. We need to be the place where people come for hard to acquire materials.
What the problems are:
There are plenty of ideas, the problem is one of structure. There are too many hoops to jump through to get something accomplished. Also, people are afraid to fail or people are unwilling to fail.
Why do we have negative feelings about this process? People feel a lack of information about what is going on. We find out about things that happen after decisions are already made. Many people don?t feel part of the process.
Too many functions of the library exist in silos. Different groups function independently and not collaboratively.
There is a lack of leadership with a vision. Too much emphasis on mass production and the bottom line. We must not forget about the quality of what we produce.
The new directions process has been repeated many times. What comes of it? There is lack of leadership to implement. Decisions happen in vacuums. We need more progress with digital initiatives. We are behind the curve with what is happening nationally.
Some of the structures that exist today have failed. CDL as a model for digital initiatives does not work. What happens there is not connected to what happens at Berkeley.
Systems is an example of a silo that does not communicate transparently with other parts of the library. Need to be a service for the needs of the library. People need to feel able to try new things.
What we need to do:
We need a Research and Development group that will focus on keeping on top of technology and both implement new ideas and keep people current ? both informatively and training people to use new technology. The R&D group will focus on the future. There work will be constantly transforming but they are also responsible for informing the entire library of how technology is changing.
We need more qualified people ? especially librarians ? who have the capabilities to master new technologies and apply them to the needs of the library.
We need to move to an open source model. B-space is an example. Combines 50 campuses working with open source software.
Costs must be cut administratively. Move to more electronic ways of reporting rather than paper. Using open source software can be made more secure than proprietary software.
We need to create active links between the library liaisons and departments. Librarians and faculty need to work together to create subject websites. We need to have the ability to use data on many web pages.
A repeated theme ? leadership, a leaner structure that removes roadblocks for experimentation and communication. We need a R&D unit. Establish more communication and transparency. Leadership should come from everyone.
Establish a Systems Council that integrates Systems as a service unit with other branches of the library for discussions of where the library is going technologically.
Systems people need to be distributed throughout the library to better respond to people?s need. Each unit needs technologically savvy people to solve problems in a timely fashion.
The administrative units need to be leaner ? examples ? HR and the Business Office. We need to put the emphasis on library expertise and less on technical services.
A librarian needs to be in charge of systems. Someone whose priority is the library and not the system.
Submitted by Paul Hamburg