Betsy Wilson made reference to one library culture: that of quiet and contemplation.
My best memories of the Library are these: sitting in a comfortable chair in the undergraduate stacks, surrounded by books and the library quiet (occassional footsteps, rustling pages), reading and thinking in advance of my next philosophy class.
One instruction held true for all my philosophy major class assignments: "read this, analyze the logical argument" and more importantly, "see if this text helps you make sense of your own experience." This took time. Courage (some of this stuff was HARD). And the kind of quiet that allowed thoughts to brew and resonate. A special kind of quiet, supported by authors from hundreds of years ago whispering their thoughts from thousands of books into the soft air. And the shared intent, "to study", held by all the other students (seekers?) sitting nearby.
Studying together is easier than studying apart
At least I find this to be true. Like exercising at the Y is easier than in my livingroom. Like writing the next poem is easier in a house full of writers who are also writing.
I'm not talking here about interactive study requiring group study rooms and opportunities to talk. This too was an important part of study, but not yet. Before talk, came the need for time to take the material in, to let it resonate, and let new thoughts and connections arise then formulate.
"Studying together" is spending time in companionable quiet with others who hold the same intent: to read, to think, to learn.
Quiet is precious and hard to find
I couldn't have created this space for myself. Not only was I young and subject to distractability, but so were my many-worded, often loud, passionate friends. I couldn't have created this space in my dorm room with roommates. I personally can't do this kind of thinking amid the bustle of a cafe.
I needed the Library to do it by setting aside spaces with rules that honor this contemplative, subterranean process.
Community of Scholars
And I do think that the books on the shelves helped. Even if I was reading the bookstore copy I held in my hand, I still needed the community that the books represented -- trail markers left by so many others who had thought that spending time "trying to figure it out" was actually worth the energy, and that "figuring it out" was possible.
Some of the members that got together at the last Brown Bag discussion at Jupiter decided that we liked this forum so much we want to do it again.
So, next thursday, 11/29, starting at 5:30pm on the second floor of Jupiter, I will be hosting Brown Bag 2.1
This time, we will be discussing the changing face of technology. While this topic will surely spawn more topics in the future, we think that it is a major topic in the changing Library environment.
Some points that will be discussed include some practical and theorhetical stuff like;
While we have brainstormed many others (both practical and theorhetical) we will have to see what kind of crowd and expertise we get in order to fully explore some topics!
Remember, everyone who is interested is invited to these! Just post here or send me an e-mail so I can keep an eye out for you.
Have a great Thanksgiving and I hope to see you next week!
Between many commitments that all came due during October, I have had less time to blog than I had hoped. However, those of us who are blogging have opened up many insightful and challenging idea threads. This blog has made for some very good reading--thanks, everybody.
I'm writing now to follow up on Mary Ann Mahoney's well-stated description of E-Science initiatives, which are underway with ARL interest and support. Her comments are in the October archive of this blog.
Top-level discussion among senior ARL library leaders about this topic is good news. But of equal importance, action often percolates upward from the "ground" where scholarship takes place, in ever discipline, even the humanities.
On this campus, and raw data, organized data sets, and data resources are growing explosively. The best-run "shops" depend upon our highly gifted graduate student work force to build the infrastructures to keep track of these data--but eventually they graduate. Professional IT staff often come in next, and devise operations to preserve the best of what they can find--but often the miss key elements in a data stack.
I find that this happens often in the environment I work in--it's one reason why we're currently discussing an IRLE Library-driven repository for data, working as a cross functional team. I think one of the principle reasons why we have a strong "value point" in data stewardship is our focus on reference service--which demands that we look for subtle, even hidden patterns that connect disparate sources of knowledge. That skill has grown in value with every new iteration of "beta-hood" and "2.0-ness." So if we can become data stewards of pre-publication content, we will take "library skill" with us--to one of the places where it is sorely needed.
I agree with Mary Ann that there are substantial opportunities for new partnerships, particularly with faculty and grads, to devis well-organized management strategies for pre-publication materials that fall outside the journal and e-journal categories. Interestingly, those categories are good examples of what's possible when libraries get involved in the actual management. eScholarship's highly successful workign paper repository was aimed at non-library staff for the most part--folks like editoiral assistants, etc. But locally, no one here at IRLE was going to step up to the plate ("Why do we need this?)--so I did. Result: the IRLE Library publishes the working paper series, several in fact. We infiltrated non-library program units, and did what we do best.
in 2007, we've moved beyond the need to be stealthy; instead, we need to be bold. My experience with eScholarship tells me that if we can formulate pragmatic partnerships with faculty to manage larger sets of their data, we may gain stature in their eyes--which will boost The Library generally.
So when it comes to E-Science, E-Social Science, and even E-Humanities, I'm all for new roles--and New Directions.
Looking through the discussion in the New Directions blog, listening to our speakers, and reading a number of the readings and listening to podcasts, I am wondering what here is a really big idea, a truly new direction? Or what would make an idea become a new direction? And what things can the Berkeley campus take on without having to get the cooperation of other UC campuses?
One idea which keeps recurring in nearly all of the forums, is Library Space - an idea that strongly resonates with me. Rethinking and redesigning space is always an expensive proposition - it is a long term project which requires the commitment of money, personnel, and culture. You may have to pull up your roots and move to a new physical and psychic space. Scary stuff this, and the scope of it may discourage us from thinking it through and seriously considering it, and judging whether it is indeed a new direction for us to travel.
Rethinking space is not closing a small branch. It is not providing more or different study spaces, or separating the collections from these spaces. It is not an information kiosk in Stanley Hall. It is not giving more services to our remote users. It might include all of these, but it also has to include the risk of really changing our sense of space, which for many of us may mean losing our familiar Library sense of home, and having to make ourselves comfortable in a new Library.
What are pilot projects we could embark on towards this big idea? If we are thinking of radical things like centralizing our physical collections and services, separating them from the majority of our study space, how do we go about this? If, for example, we were able - and wanted - to make BIOS the location for the physical collections of the sciences, where will the selectors and reference staff live? How will the circulation and technical services staff be redeployed? And what are we making room for in all of this relocation and spatial re-dimensioning? We have to pay special attention to this last question if we are to consider divorcing staff and some of our users from their physical collections and space.
Maybe the idea of space resonates for me because it is so large and unexplored, and it seems like there is much to be discovered...
What do you see when you look out into space?
Meredith Farkas's keynote at the AL 2.0 conference gave some excellent examples of ways that different libraries are rethinking how to offer services to their users. I've been hearing some buzz recently about a software project called Bibliocommons - http://www.bibliocommons.com - that is attempting to integrate social search and discovery with the library ILS.
Some of what they're doing is not unique - creating tools so that users can aggregate resources of interest in a myLibrary space. NCSU comes to mind. Meredith Farkas mentioned similar projects at Penn and McMasters. Their particular take seems to be a way of harnessing that participation in the service of search and discovery.
Here's a quick summary of points that stood out for me. Gleaned from some web presentations. More on that below.
* Traffic to library web sites is actually quite high, if taken in aggregate. Of the top 50 public libraries in the US - which includes some PLs that would qualify as research libraries,
* Average number of visits per month was greater than amazon
* Page use/visit was greater than amazon
* For public libraries, 90% of visitor traffic is to the library catalog. Also high traffic to the user account pages. Libraries tend to put their web resources elsewhere. Instead we should be trying to harness the traffic where it's heaviest
* Libraries still have an important role to play for information navigation, but over time this will be less in the traditional role of information mediator. We should instead develop ways to facilitate discovery and evaluation of resources by developing tools to help communities help each other.
Their Bibliocommons approach is to build an "architecture of participation." They are creating a front-end that will integrate "seamlessly" with any ILS. Well, that's the pitch anyway. Key features:
* Lower the threshhold for patron participation then harness this for searching. Rating systems are low cost buy in for users.
* Provide tools and support for those users who want to go beyond this. Examples: indepth reviews, recommendations, tagging. Patrons thus add value to the catalog and impact on search and discovery grows as participation increases. Consider the potential impact of subject experts as active participants.
* Opportunities for users to build citation lists, bibliographies, self-select those reviewers whose recommendations they want to see. This can all be linked to the
user's account "myLibrary?" page.
* More useful than interjecting the library into Facebook or mySpace is to create tools so that our users can syndicate THEIR library lists to those social spaces they frequent.
I think this last idea is particularly interesting.
For more information:
I found this audio interview with founder Beth Jefferson very interesting.
There's also a - short! - webcast of a presentation at Code4Lib 2007
Submitted by Jeanne Gahagan