Beyond Boundaries


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Keynote presentation delivered by Peter Robson at the 2008 BBSLG Conference, hosted by Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University, 9-11 July

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Beyond Boundaries

  1. 1. Beyond Boundaries Peter Robson, Beyond boundaries Peter Robson
  2. 2. • “I used to think ..if there was reincarnation , I wanted to come back as the president or pope…now I want to be the bond market: you can intimidate everybody”. Carville, J. quoted in Vaitlingham, R. (2001)
  3. 3. • Personal impressions • Not based on any objective analysis • Better that we tread on each others’ toes than not at all. • Some boundaries we take for granted…. and rightly so.
  4. 4. We start from the same point de départ… don’t we?? • “How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” – Gates, B. (1999) • “La chance ne sourit qu’aux esprits bien préparés” (Pasteur) • “Every business is an information business…information is the glue that holds together the structure of all businesses.” (Evans 1997) • “Unique feature (of the market economy is) precisely that it organises economic activity around information.” (Drucker 1993) • The big challenge (for businesses) will not be more or better inside information, but to add outside information. (Drucker 2002)
  5. 5. But we have different foci.. • Academics may not be aware of practical constraints affecting resource exploitation.. – E.g. simultaneous access to Athens resources. • Academics’ appreciation of library/librarians varies greatly. • Never underestimate the ignorance of academics as to resources available.
  6. 6. The critical role of information literacy.. • Librarians need to have academics on board. • “Incorporating information literacy across curricula, ….. requires the collaborative efforts of faculty, librarians, and administrators.” (ACRL 1989) • For most students this only matters in context of assessed work. – Allocation of marks for exploiting value added tools – .. Tools which are expensive. • Alleged reluctance of many academic to take IL on board. (McGuiness 2006) • You will probably not get academic support without high level endorsement. • Is teaching of information literacy too narrowly focused on academic context?
  7. 7. Induction/user education • When do you do it? • Why? • To what extent are you relating it to students’ assessed work? • Is there a case for you contributing to assessment-focused lectures?? • Do you get yourselves involved in helping final year students prepare for interview? • Do you invite academic recruits for personal instruction?
  8. 8. Are we/should we be at the Schengen stage? • We need our own areas of autonomy/individuality. • This should not preclude active intervention to support our respective roles • Academics should expect more “invasion” by librarians than vice versa. • Perhaps include librarians on VLE module discussion lists? • Common sense/common courtesy have to rule.
  9. 9. Extending your boundaries: teaching?? • Do you want to teach more than use of library /IT resources? • Do you have time? • How will you be compensated? Remunerated? • How will you get to grips with the bureaucracy of teaching?
  10. 10. …or should you “stick to your knitting” ? • Academics automatically assume basic competences on the part of librarians. – Shelves in order. – Courtesy to all customers. – Fast turn round of inter library loans. – Speed of acquisitions procedures. – Consultation on major initiatives. – Awareness of new resources.
  11. 11. Extending your boundaries?- patents information • Can contribute to good assignments. • Academics usually woefully ignorant of this tool. • Students enjoy the topic. • An excellent free source now available.. • Long term strategic relevance for business.
  12. 12. Patents information: many pluses •An information resource embracing all areas of technology. • Access to unique information. • Access to detailed technical information. • Advance notice of new technology. • Advance notice of new products. • Identification of new applications for existing products. • Identification of new customers. • Monitoring of competitors’ innovative activity. • Identification of “free technology”. • Avoidance of duplication of research.
  13. 13. …and a few more • Identification of potential licensees, joint-venture partners • Avoidance of infringement of existing patents • A means of identifying an important intangible asset. • Information about individual inventors/researchers. • A valuable information resource for university/high-school project work. • Information about prospective employers. • Accessible information: esp@cenet: • Cost-effective information. • An information source used by successful manufacturing companies world-wide.
  14. 14. …and a few drawbacks • Unutterably boring. • Many patented inventions are trivial. • Many are unworkable. • No peer-reviewing. • Deliberate obfuscation evident in titles. • Quality of examination can be suspect. • Volume of documentation. • Investment-critical searching needs experts.
  15. 15. esp@cenet interface
  16. 16. Undergrads’ interest prompted by showing blockbusting or barmy inventions. • Van Dulken ( 2000) • Van Dulken (2001) • Patently absurd (2008)
  17. 17. Even patents have a lighter side! (Note reference to Beano.)
  18. 18. The Beano © . Trade mark D.C. More edifying Thomson & Co. Ltd material at: www.
  19. 19. References – ACRL (1989) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report available: [accessed 20/6/08] – Carville, J. quoted in Vaitlingham, R. (2001) Guide to using the financial pages. 4th ed. Prentice Hall – Drucker, P. (1993) Post-capitalist society. Harper. – Drucker, P.F. (2002) Managing in the next society. Butterworth-Heinemann) – Evans, P & Wurster, T. (1997) Strategy and the new economics of information. Harvard Business Review, 75 (5) 70-82 – Gates, B. (1999) Business @ the speed of thought. Penguin. – McGuiness, C. (2006) What faculty think-Exploring the Barriers to Information Literacy Development in Undergraduate Education . Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(6) 573-582 – Patently absurd (2008) available from – Van Dulken, S. (2000) Inventing the 20th century. British Library – Van Dulken, S. (2001) Inventing the 19th century. British Library
  20. 20. Breakout session: Boundaries: do you have any, do they matter? • What boundaries in your workplace between librarians and academics constrain your work? • (How) do these have negative impact on the student experience? • How do these impact on your own self- development? • How can the impact of these constraints be mitigated/minimised? (Do you want them to be??!!)