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  • The Times they are a Changing
    April 17, 2012

    Thinking about our so-called information society, and the future of academic libraries, two items in particular caught my eye yesterday. Perhaps they caught yours too.

    First, the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday. The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, one for its reporting on Africa and another for an investigative series on obscure tax code provisions that allow wealthy corporations and citizens to avoid paying taxes. But as reporters, commentators and pundits are saying, the bigger surprise this year came from new media. Online news outlets The Huffington Post and Politico both won their first Pulitzer Prizes, a sign of the changing media landscape.

    Personally, I am saddened by the lack of prizes in some categories. For example The Pulitzer Prize board did not name a winner in the editorial writing category and, as a second example, notably declined to name a winner in the coveted fiction category for the first time in 35 years.

    I digress.

    I mentioned that two items in particular caught my eye yesterday. The second item has nothing to do with an award - - well, at least a current award. It concerns a question - - "Watergate 4.0: How Would the Story Unfold in the Digital Age?" Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein gave their assessment at the annual American Society of News Editors conference this month by referring to how Yale students answer a similar question assigned in an advanced journalism class.

    So think about it - - before ‘Watergate’ could be Googled . . . . And? What do you think today’s Yale students thought? Listen up.

    “Mr. Woodward said he was shocked by how otherwise savvy students thought technology would have changed everything. ‘I came as close as I ever have to having an aneurysm,’ he said, "because the students wrote that, 'Oh, you would just use the Internet" and the details of the scandal would be there. The students imagined, as Mr. Woodward put it, ‘that somehow the Internet was a magic lantern that lit up all events.’" (http://0-search.proquest.com.libcat.uncw.edu/wallstreetjournal/docview/1000397580/fulltext/13625CCB707470B5779/1?accountid=14606) (accessed 17 April 2012)

    When the esteemed Pulitzer Prize goes to online news outlets, and Yale students appear to think that ‘Watergate’ could now be reported without actual reporting, well, the changing media landscape changing is evidence of so much more, all of it with powerful implications for academic libraries.

     

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  • Inevitable Intersections
    April 13, 2012

    Lest you question whether or not a relationship exists between the library of the future and the future of the book, here’s my two cents, in two words - - inevitable intersections.

    As last nights’ moderator and panelists affirmed, in the 21st century, there’s no mistaking the fact that the digital book world is alive and thriving. At the same time, there’s a burgeoning movement of artists and writers making handmade and/or hand-bound books and paper as a response to the digital book world. Today’s artists and writers making handmade and/or hand-bound books and paper as a response to the digital book world - - are indeed, in a bind.

    “Wait a minute,” you say. “Halt. Last night’s panel? Say what? I missed it somehow.”

    Whoa. Let’s fill in the blanks.

    In academic year 2012/2013 UNCW’s Department of Art & Art History, Randall Library, and the Department of Creative Writing’s Publishing Laboratory will launch a “Future of the Book” series. Last night’s panel, “In a Bind” was the first event of this series.

    Approximately 50 persons attended the panel; panelists explored the experience of making books and how this experience informs and enriches their relationship to books and reading. When the panel ended, many attendees moved on to attend the opening of an exhibition in UNCW’s Ann Flack Boseman Gallery. The exhibit showcases a wide range of book-making activity at UNCW, including everything from student-designed books from the Publishing Laboratory to one-of-a-kind artist's books. It is dazzling; check it out!

    Technology, tastes, customer/consumer/user preferences, customer/consumer/user expectations and behavior, and the bottom line, plain and simple, are, today, converging to impact the future of the book. These same factors are, today, also converging to impact the future of academic libraries. Indeed, our individual and collective futures , whether we are artists and/or writers making handmade and/or hand-bound books and paper, or academic librarians or library staff scrambling, if you will, to anticipate and meet our users’ needs - - our individual and collective futures are less secure than they were in the past.

    Are we in a bind? Could be. Possibly so. Make no mistake - - the implications of dual - - screen and paper, book delivery, are vast - - for artists and/or writers, as described above, and library workers combined. Is there a particular strategy that will assure the future of the book or the future of academic libraries? I doubt there is any one particular strategy that will assure our future with any of these constituencies. Whatever it takes to survive, the book arts need visual arts presence, book publishing needs retail presence, and academic libraries need academic presence on our campuses. Gosh, are we back to demonstrating our value?

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  • The Changing Book and the Library of the Future or Physical Books Innocuous – NOT!
    April 10, 2012

    The preservation and persistance of the changing book is very much on our minds.

    “Why?”

    “What has that to do with the library of the future?"

    “Really?”

    Sip your coffee and think about it. The implications of dual - - screen and paper, book delivery - - information delivery, actually, have everything to do with the library of the future. The resurgence of interest lately (however you define lately) in the physicality of the book demands our attention, and so it should.

    Think about it - - “The physical world of nature has deep context in science and theory so why are physical books innocuous? And an additional question is could contextualization of literary content and the physicality of books be related. Is the high abstraction of the “word” enabled by a physicality of its presence to the senses? Or does abstraction take on a life of its own displacing the consequence of physicality? And if so, can physicality still have something to teach at the far reaches of screen simulation?”[1]

    “Please,” you might exclaim (or mutter, or even grumble) under your breath, “this is way too esoteric for this hour of the morning.”

    Okay, I will give you that, but here’s the thing - - we are talking about not only communication and culture transmission, but also about the transmission of knowledge. We are talking about orality and literacy, about digital connectivity. Alignment with the academic library of the future is, or should be, obvious.

    Suggested attendance: join us for the launch of the Future of the Book series! For details on the “In a Bind” panel and exhibition, see http://library.uncw.edu/news/discussing_future_book (accessed 10 April 2012).

    Suggested reading: The Future of the Book: A Way Forward, (Iowa Book Works, 2012) and also  Walter Ong’s Of Ong & Media:  EcologyEssays in Communication, Composition, & Literary Studies (Hampton Press, 2012).

    Back to my whole milk, no foam, extra hot latte. There’s work to be done.

     

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  • From the Perspective of Aaron Cohen Associates
    April 05, 2012

    Aaron Cohen Associates, Ltd. (ACA) is an interdisciplinary library planning firm founded in 1972. Their consultants “specialize in library space planning and design, whether for a new building project, reorganization effort or renovation of existing space.” Who are these folks exactly? Professional library planners, librarians, architects, interior designers and organizational management consultants are some of the folks ACA employs. In a nutshell, their team “promotes and develops the functional building blocks for modern library spaces. “[1]

    A recent blog post speaks to the service desk as an important element in the design of a future library. I was skeptical at first. I mean, are we back to the future or what?  However, ACA is not about going two steps back and then two to the side, and finally, two forward. Consider this,

    The library of the future can have a service desk that is flexible – one that is rolled in and out as required. The configuration can allow additional staff to surge into the space when it is busy, using ipads, pedestal seats or roving and card swipes. [2]

    It all circles back to the friction problem. If you share my initial skepticism, here’s more - -

    “The design of a traditional information desk can create friction, limiting the flow into the library. The friction can reduce the effectiveness of the entry and the lobby. According to the Technology’s Friction Problem by David Pogue, ‘Friction is a hassle. steps. process. And in this increasingly technified world, there is still a su[r]prising amount of red tape.’ He goes on to state, ‘lowering friction doesn’t just mean more transactions. It means more of any behavior you’re trying to encourage.’”

    Librarians who work hard to make self service a priority understand that processing materials efficiently is important. However, there are other groups that confuse tradition with friction. They want the community to work closely with their staff. They believe the tried and true service desk is the answer.”

    Given this perspective, what do you think? Is The service desk an important element in your library today? Should it be an important element in the design of a future library? What do you believe - - is it a functional element that enhances the space and the service? Or a dysfunctional element that detracts from resourceful space utilization and the provision of quality service?

    Many moons ago, Steven Bell and I were opposing debate partners, sparring on the future of the reference desk. Bell currently serves as Associate University Librarian for Research & Instructional Services at Temple University's Paley Library, a position he has held since 2007. If you are interested in designing better libraries and the broader challenge of keeping up, Bell is someone to listen to. In May 2011, he was also elected Vice-President/President Elect of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

    One step forward, two to the side, and two forward. The shuffle, oops, I meant the dance, continues.

     



    [2]http://www.acohen.com/blog/ (accessed 5 April 2012) 

     

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  • Collections, Access Key to Cornell University Library future
    April 02, 2012

     

    I hope you take a “detour,” albeit a Web detour and follow the link to read about scholars’ experiences at the Cornell University Library - - http://ezramagazine.cornell.edu/SPRING12/Faculty.html (accessed 2 April 2012). Here are descriptions of the challenges and pitfalls of research, “adventures,” if you will, that demonstrate the library’s role in the intellectual life of select Cornell faculty.  Anne Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian captures the tensions we face nicely. She writes,

    "In the digital age, libraries maintain a tricky balance. It's not only determining what people need, it's also figuring out what format – and it doesn't always follow the traditional lines drawn by disciplines. Historians need databases; biologists need book . . . . The idea of collections goes beyond physical 'stuff,' and it really speaks to the deepest needs of the people who use the library."

    The article continues with a not-so-soft pitch for collections funding. Indeed, the library is embarking on a $15 million campaign to raise funds for the collections that faculty members need not only for research, but for teaching as well.

    The article concludes with a quote from Michael Tomlan, Ph.D. '83, director of the Historic Preservation Planning Program in the Department of City and Regional Planning. Tomlan teaches international students about national architecture from their home countries through the library's blueprints, maps, photographs and other original sources. He writes "The library is what distinguishes our institution.”  Students find collections that give them "the means by which they understand their own world. Without the growth of our collections, that connection is impossible to make. … As alumni, we have a responsibility to make sure the library can provide for them."

    So, returning to UNCW, does our library - - Randall Library, distinguish our university? Is it a point of pride?

    Whatever our status in the big picture, this much is clear to me - - library services, and I include here both access and collections, as well as F2F and Web-based information, reference and research services, are key to UNCW’s future.  As our future evolves, and as we evolve our future, let’s take this reality into account.

     

      

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  • Reimagining the Library for the Future
    March 31, 2012

    Academic library close-up - - what do your students need and deserve? Do you know? Assuming you value this question, and assuming you and I are on the same page re: building the academic library for the future, how are you trying to find out?

    Academic librarians could learn from the New York Public Library’s Reimagining programs. Wait. Whoa. You haven’t heard of NYPL’s system-wide initiative to enhance New York City’s neighborhood libraries as “vibrant, active community centers”? Here it is in a nutshell - -

    NYPL is reimagining its libraries for the future…open, active, and democratic hubs where New Yorkers of all ages and all backgrounds can come together to find inspiration, create new ideas, and forge communities.[1]

    As part of this initiative NYPL is planning to launch several pilot programs to expand educational programming for both children and adults.“Called Achieve @ NYPL, these pilots — developed as a result of extensive research and analysis of local community needs and Library resources — mark the launch of a dedicated effort to expand NYPL’s audience and positively influence the lives of all New Yorkers”[2]

    Four planned pilots include 1) expanding a current pilot partnership between NYPL and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to create a fully integrated online catalog; 2) creating “Extended Learning Time @ NYPL,” or after-school homework-help zones at branches; 3) expanding public technology access and training; and 4)  expanding NYPL’s Literacy Services. More information on the pilots can be found at http://www.nypl.org/yourlibrary/programs (accessed 31 March 2012).

    It is not my purpose here to suggest that academic libraries adopt or adapt any of these planned pilots.  However, I do suggest that we could learn from NYPL’s approach. There are four features of this approach that I respect in particular. First, Reimagining is a system-wide dedicated effort powered by extensive research and analysis of local community needs and library resources. Second, the effort is powered by a genuine commitment to engage stakeholders in the conversation about NYPL’s plan to build the Library for the Future. The two other features of NYPL’s approach that I respect include the initiative’s clearly intentional alignment with NYPL’s three-fold emphasis to discover/get inspired/connect, and its tie-in to other NYPL happenings. I have no doubt that NYPL is well on its way to expanding its audience and positively influencing the lives of all New Yorkers.

    Oh, by the way, for readers who have a soft spot in their hearts, as I do, for the landmark StephenA. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, stay calm! In the coming years, NYPL will reimagine the landmark building graced by Patience and Fortitude, the iconic pair of marble lions that stand proudly before the majestic Beaux-Arts building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.[3] Ambitious plans to create the largest combined research and circulating library in the country are nicely integrated with the major plan for the future envisioned for NYPL’s 91 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

     

     



    [1]http://www.nypl.org/yourlibrary(accessed 31 March 2012)

    [3]http://www.nypl.org/yourlibrary/42-street(accessed 31 March 2012) and for more on Patience and Fortitude, http://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/library-lions(accessed 31 March 2012) 

     

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  • Movers and Shakers 2012
    March 29, 2012

    If you want to read about the “people shaping the future of libraries” check out Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers 2012 http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/03/people/movers-shakers/movers-shakers-2012/) (accessed 29 March 2012)

    Background and data help set the stage - - “For 11 years now, LJ’s Movers & Shakers has been spotlighting librarians and others in the library field who are doing extraordinary work to serve their users and to move libraries of all types and library services forward. They hail from all corners of the library world. They’ve been nominated by their colleagues, friends, bosses, and just plain admirers. We know there are many more Movers out there, making libraries better and taking them into the future. This year’s group of 53 brings the Movers cohort to over 550.”

    Movers and shakers are clustered into distinct categories - - community builders innovators, advocates, recession busters, change agents and tech leaders. Do you recognize any names in the rosters? Or, better yet, do you see yourself in any of these categories? What about your colleagues? What do you aspire to - - this year? Over the arc of your professional career?

    So, immerse yourself in the vision and optimism espoused and demonstrated by these movers and shakers and then . . . as LJ suggests “be inspired . . . and turn their ideas into fodder for your own innovative work.”

    Sounds like a powerful way to start the day, if you ask me! 

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  • The Library of the Future is Wherever You Want It To Be
    March 28, 2012

    To best appreciate the riff that follows, I suggest you spend a few minutes with Will Manley - - http://willmanley.com/2012/03/22/will-unowund-715-the-library-of-the-future-is-wherever-you-want-it-to-be/ (accessed 28 March 2012).

    Many of us in libraries have either heard Manley speak at library conferences or know him personally or virtually. Quoting from his bio[1], Manley,” a trustee for the Livermore (CA) Public Library, is the author of nine books on the lighter side of librarianship, Manley has published over 600 magazine articles.  He currently writes the “Manley Arts” column in Booklist and the “Will’s World” column every month in the ALA’s American Libraries Magazine.” 

    “Will Unwound” contains his rants, raves and reflections, and is fun, if not generally provocative, reading. WILL UNWOUND #715 explores the library of the future. The exploration begins with nook and cranny stories - - I know, makes no sense, right? But, as I suggested, to best appreciate the riff here, you might want to spend a few minutes with Manley, as per the link above. Manley’s take away from this story swap is this - - that the library of the future is wherever you want it to be. He writes

    “Think about it.  My guess is that right now the newest Nooks and Kindles allow you to store several hundred books.  But that’s just your base library.  What you can archive in the cloud is pretty much unlimited.  So you’ve got a library in your backpack and it will go wherever you want it to go.”

    And he continues, circling back to his original question - -

    “So let’s rephrase that original question from ‘What is your favorite nook or cranny in a library to read a book” to “What is your favorite nook or cranny in the big wide world where you can take your library?’”

    Hardly one to be shy, he picks up the gauntlet - -

    “•On cold, wintry days, I’ll take the fireplace in the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite.

    •On cozy spring evenings, how about a coffee shop in Harvard Square.

    •On warm summer mornings, I’m thinking about Maine.

    •On bright autumnal afternoons Taos is where I want to be.”

    Following Will’s lead, I’ll go next - -

    •On cold, wintry days, I’ll take a cabin at Snow Creek  in Mammoth, CA.

    •On cozy spring evenings, I’ll pull up a chair in Peet’s on Larchmont in Los Angeles.

    •On warm summer mornings, I’ll beam myself back to the Berkshires, close to my New England roots.

    •On bright autumnal afternoons Northfield, MA is where I want to be.

    Readers one and all, have fun with this! Personally, I’m finding comfort in Manley’s suggestion that the library of the future is wherever you want it to be.

    For academic library types  (me included, of course), do you think our students would agree? And, if so, how would they answer this round of questions?

     

     

     



    [1]http://willmanley.com/about/ (accessed 28 March 2012)  

     

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  • Robotic Library Systems
    March 23, 2012

    This past week it was reported that the giant online retailer Amazon had purchased robot-maker Kiva Systems for $775 million. The automatons will bring products to workers in Amazon's massive distribution centers.

    You might not think that Amazon’s strategy to control its labor costs and boost its narrowing profit margins has much to do with libraries today, let alone libraries of the future. Think again.

    The robotic library concept is already in place and at work. Consider for example, the University of Chicago’s  Joe and Rika Mansueto Library (http://mansueto.lib.uchicago.edu/) (accessed 23 March 2012) or Colgate University Libraries (http://exlibris.colgate.edu/LASR/) (accessed 23 March 2012). True the focus of these installations or adaptions is on book storage and collection access, and within this arena, on automated storage and retrieval systems.

    For an interesting read on this topic, check out “Roblog: The Library of the Future” by Ashley Hansberry,  posted on March  7th, 2012 (http://buquad.com/2012/03/07/roblog-the-library-of-the-future/) (accessed 23 March 2012). Roblog, BTW,  is a weekly column dedicated to understanding the world of robotics.

    For Amazon - - big retail + technology = gaining a competitive advantage.

    And, closer to home - - books + libraries + robots = new storage models. Taking this one step further - - new storage models + the opportunity to repurpose space  (+ imagination and vision) = new service models = foundation building for our futures.

      

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  • Paul Adalian, the 21st Century, Google, “Wrecking Ball” and that Latte
    March 05, 2012

    Paul Adalian, Dean of the Hannon Libraryat Southern Oregon University[1]spoke about libraries on Feburary 24, 2012. The event was a community breakfast planned and sponsored by the Institutional Positioning Committee of the SOU President’s Advisory Board. Adalian posited two questions - - “What Can Libraries Do for Us in the 21st Century?” and “What’s the role of a university library now that we have Google?” BTW, SOU is a public liberal arts university in the West - - different but not so very much, from UNCW. SOU promises a campus experience students won’t find elsewhere. But I digress. You can read about the event and Adalian’s remarks here,   http://news.sou.edu/president/ (accessed 5 March 2012).

    Meantime, as you are sipping your vente- no- foam- extra- hot- latte- with- whole milk, contemplating pre-ordering Bruce Springsteen’s new CD “Wrecking Ball,” bring yourself back to earth and consider how you would answer these questions - -

    “What Can Libraries Do for Us in the 21st Century?”

    and

    “What’s the role of a university library now that we have Google?”

    By the way, “Wrecking Ball” streaming for free all day today and tomorrow on www.brucespringsteen.net.

     

    Paul Adalian, Dean of the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University[1]spoke about libraries on February 24, 2012. The event was a community breakfast planned and sponsored by the Institutional Positioning Committee of the SOU President’s Advisory Board.

    Adalian posited two questions - - “What Can Libraries Do for Us in the 21st Century?” and “What’s the role of a university library now that we have Google?” BTW, SOU is a public liberal arts university in the West - - different but not so very much, from UNCW. SOU promises a campus experience students won’t find elsewhere. But I digress. You can read about the event and Adalian’s remarks here,   http://news.sou.edu/president/ (accessed 5 March 2012).

    Meantime, as you are sipping your vente- no- foam- extra- hot- latte- with- whole milk, contemplating pre-ordering Bruce Springsteen’s new CD “Wrecking Ball,” bring yourself back to earth and consider how you would answer these  questions - -

    “What Can Libraries Do for Us in the 21st Century?”

    and

    “What’s the role of a university library now that we have Google?”

    By the way, “Wrecking Ball” is streaming for free all day today and tomorrow on www.brucespringsteen.net.

     



    [1]http://www.sou.edu/ (accessed 5 March 2012)  

     

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