The challenge of the Digital Library. Author: Ros Pan


Published on

Case study of the managerial and personal challenges presentedby the digital library. Presented at Internet Librarian conference, London, 2007

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Good afternoon. I have just 10 minutes to reflect on the challenges of digital library service. I have provided a much more detailed paper containing my thoughts on this and will here simply quickly summarise a few of the points. My focus is on the challenge to professional librarians and academic library managements that I have seen after various posts in UK university libraries with a digital focus and particularly in my current post at UCD which is the largest Univ library in Ireland, is rapidly redefining itself as a research university and where I have been for just under 3 years as electronic services librarian
  • I think that the first few minutes I want to stress that I think that I and my colleagues have made good progress with the digital library. This is our new website home page, lot of embedded search boxes, large Chat box, RSS feeds, points to blogs etc.
  • And this is the companion university portal environment library page
  • A few slides to show just some of these things… Google CSE
  • Links on our branch page to some new things….
  • This is the first mash up that we have, with Google Earth and branch information
  • UCD is the first university library in Ireland to be giving it a go in Second Life and that has had a lot of publicity, including a feature on the university home page and also on national radio station interview with our Sub-Librarian for Reader Services who is spearheading this development
  • Blogs we are well ahead with and we have got as far as some presence on the website in an organized way as you see here and also a draft policy on some minimal requirements for any blog badged as a UCD Library product
  • Our blogs have RSS feeds and then we have a couple of extra ones as well derived from our web general and electronic news.
  • We are complementing our traditional subject resource lists on the website with these rather snappier looking subject channels in our university portal environment of which you see an example to the right.
  • And then there are the easy to set up remotely hosted web tools like these for meeting fixing and mini-user surveys
  • As well as this we have the usual range of things from the previous 2006 digital library must have list. The Irish broad equivalent of NESLI is IReL Irish Research Electronic Library. We have around 41,000 e-journals available to our users now presenting those via AMS e-journal portal from Serials Solutions of which you see an example here.
  • We are just going live with a dSpace Institutional Repository.
  • And we have been piloting both OpenURL and federated search which we are just promoting now and are looking very closely now at the resource discovery tools area
  • And we are now going live with some serious online information skills tutorials, based on adapting the content in various open source products
  • A summary of the digital library development areas at UCD to date. So on the surface it is looking good for us.
  • I was keen to start by showing an extensive level of digital library achievement as the context for my next remarks If we are making so much progress why am I producing a 5,000 word paper on all the challenges facing us? Well as my fuller paper outlines, beneath this patina of progress I do think a whole range of problems has evolved and that we may not be able to carry on with our conservative evolutionary approach to supporting the digital library and may have to consider a more radical transformation. The challenges seem to me to be broadly individual and managerial and I am particularly concerned with the latter. I feel that there is a lot of discussion of the individual and the need for individuals to keep up and re-skill but I feel that the major issues are as equally with management – newly defined roles, new types of post, new teams and new management structures. And as I say the issue to me is whether we continue trying to evolve our traditional people and teams or need a more disruptive radical approach.
  • I don’t think these challenges are new at all but perhaps the arrival of Web 2.0 has highlighted the issues because of the sheer speed at which this has all happened, literally within about a year. But getting individual library staff to embed the digital library and its related tasks into their standard workflow has been an issue for me for at least 10 years. And the difficulties of evolving our existing library teams to support it have also been around for good long time. In the Computers in Libraries must have list for the 2006 digital library none of the Web 2.0 services appeared at all but I suspect that will not be the case this year. And not only is the speed of development a challenge, also the nature of these new developments puts the pressure onto management – quick to implement, no money needed, no IT infrastructure needed often, anybody in the library can do it. A challenge indeed. And above all it seems to me many of these new developments have shifted to focus to putting library SERVICE online. I think the challenges of moving library SERVICE online is far more than that of moving information RESOURCES online;.
  • If you look at a list like this the focus is on putting our resources online and then dealing with the discovery issue and the interoperability issues. All this is pretty well understood. The service area I think is less well developed. But putting library SERVICES online – communications, reference service, info skills teaching for example is much harder and that is where Web 2.0 is challenging our entire approach.
  • From working on many eLibrary projects, sometimes with my own staff but very often over the last 10 years in a matrix approach using staff from other teams in Project teams or short term working groups, these are some of the challenges that I feel exist and have developed further in my paper. A mixed bag indeed follows…
  • The individual must re-consider their role to embrace fully the digital library, stop doing some traditional tasks or delegate them, and take an ongoing interest in new developments, evaluating their potential and re-skilling to make use of them if they have some potential use. Here I list some things that I think professional library staff in the liaison area need to be able to do as an example
  • Just a couple of personal examples. In the last 18 months my own current awareness system has completely changed and RSS feeds are now my principle tool – reading online journals and e-mail alerts have faded right out of the picture.
  • And again personally I now maintain a couple of blogs and a WIKI which is all entirely new and has had to be fitted in. And 2 of the external projects that I am working on have set up their own WIKIS – so you do get sucked into using them I find, like it or loath it.
  • Another example on this challenge effecting my colleagues – here in the area of information skills and subject librarians. Barbara Allen from U of Hull business school gave us a presentation on blended learning recently and this was the example of the range of things she uses in an information skills module – that is the challenge for those delivering info skills in the digital library service, extending the session in time and space with online and podcast elements. Not many of us could cope with this at the present time.
  • Not that much can be dumped from our roles so there is just more to do and we are not going to get large numbers of extra staff to do it. So the only way for professionals to cope is to alter the way they do the job but librarians seem to struggle with this rather obvious concept! It can be done in the sorts of ways on this slide. Not likely to be a popular one with my colleagues but I feel that a more business-like approach, with more process analysis and personal review would go a long way. We have some 25 relatively well paid professional library staff in my own library and we need to be able to justify that with no problems at all.
  • I think this is a good slide on this topic, again from Barbara Allen’s presentation. What this shows to me is that the challenge is not just juggling a lot of different things, but taking on board that the scope of a lot of these is well beyond the traditional bibliographic and academic area. We are told that NextGens multitask as a core behaviour but perhaps we don’t As somebody coming up to their 50 th birthday I find the image used here quite depressing and so we have the next 2 challenges.
  • I think there is a need to build up individual confidence to break into new areas and also to accept a greater amount of risk than librarians have been comfortable with. I think both these things are embedded in our conservative culture and we need to snap out of it. This again is not restricted to the digital library arena but is quite marked there. And the final point is one that I think needs serious consideration with the emerging digital library service options.
  • I would not wish to give the impression that I have mastered all these individual challenges. I certainly feel under quite a lot of pressure at a personal level and constantly re-inventing yourself and your role is quite tiring. With the digital library it also tends to seep into your personal time and that barrier becomes blurred. I have younger colleagues who are a lot sharper than me and work a lot faster too. And I really cannot get into this Second Life stuff, though I am trying – this is my avatar. I can detect definite early signs of sliding into the deadwood category, try though I do to fight it.
  • I perhaps need to take this sort of message to heart personally.
  • I have talked a lot about personal challenges that I have encountered but now I am moving on now to the managerial challenges. I feel strongly that the challenges are a package: individual, managerial and structural.
  • Certainly from my experience over the last few years the traditional formal library committees and meetings lasting a good few hours but held just once or twice a term a really not going to be the way forward with the digital library. Management may say that a wait of 6 months or a year before implementation of a new digital service is acceptable but when you are on the ground that really does seem like an age. Some alternative fast track management systems are needed. I think that these need to enable decision-making and policy making but also provide a co-ordinating function to ensure that all bottom up digital library development is part of an overall plan. We are working on how to deal with that issue at the moment.
  • Another few management challenges. As well as some new thinking on structures of management there seems to me a need to extend to a longer term vision and strategy compared to what has happened to date so that new developments are part of a plan We are beginning on this and have for example pulled together a library wide Electronic Services Framework but there is an awfully long way to go to develop that and feed in library input to that framework. And also to begin to address the awful mess we find ourselves in because of the short term implementation of digital opportunities in the past leaving us with numerous overlapping, diverse systems with little interoperability
  • And because of time a final few quickly summarised, but some very important challenges again expanded in the accompanying paper. Libraries are conservative and try to tweak their teams and roles but is this going to be enough? There are lots of new roles and new blends of library with IT skills that we need. But how are we going to get them and where are we going to fit them? This is all about the nature of our staff, their skills, their roles and the library teams we need for the future. Over my years in this role there have been alternating strategies of having dedicated teams and staff which gets things done in the short term but is problematic in the longer term and efforts at mainstreaming which tends to limit developments in my experience because not enough time is given to the digital side of things. So there are huge issues here.
  • There is no magic wand so just a few final suggestions on possible routes to adress the challenges
  • New types of role seems an important one to me with the associated review of old types of role.
  • New management and decision making styles and groups is also key
  • Difficult for sure but some vision of new teams which give digital library work its full complement does seem crucial
  • And of course working on the individual staff we have, without them really we have nothing.
  • And finally a couple of places that have caught attention in the past. McMaster University and Library of Congress, dealing with the management and the workforce in controversial ways. McMaster caught the eye both for introducing a gaming librarian and also for declaring that they were leaving the cataloguing business, the one presumably freeing up roles and resources for the other to be possible.
  • And Library of Congress. They are shedding staff who cannot re-think their roles and how they fulfil them and also creating an initiative to help staff make that change.
  • The challenge of the Digital Library. Author: Ros Pan

    1. 1. Session C101 – Challenges of DigitalLibrary Service, “a little lessconversation a little more action” Rosalind Pan Sub-Librarian Electronic Services University College Dublin Library (Ireland) UCD Library Leabharlann UCD University College Dublin, An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland Átha Cliath, Belfield, Baile Átha Cliath 4, Eire
    2. 2. UCD library is engaged…. and makinggood digital library progress
    3. 3. We are engaged….
    4. 4. We are engaged…. CSE – Google Custom Search Engine
    5. 5. We are engaged…. Mash-up Second Life
    6. 6. We are engaged…. Google Earth
    7. 7. We are engaged….Second Life
    8. 8. We are engaged….Blogs
    9. 9. We are engaged…. RSS Blogs have RSS feeds, plus maintain 2 for News and Electronic Resource News
    10. 10. We are engaged….
    11. 11. We are engaged….web 2.0 and widgets
    12. 12. We are engaged….
    13. 13. We are engaged….
    14. 14. We are engaged….
    15. 15. We are engaged….
    16. 16. So the digital library at UCD isdeveloping…• Online resources• Online resource discovery tools• Online library services• Library 2.0 additions
    17. 17. So … WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?• Individual challenges – the role, the skills, time management• Management challenge – teams, processes, management and policy making methods• Evolution or Transformation?
    18. 18. Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 From
    19. 19. It has all happened quickly“A typical academic library needs a whole arsenal of products, including the following:• An ILS for managing the librarys physical collections• An OpenURL link resolver to provide linking and other access options for electronic content• A federated searching tool to make it easier for users to search multiple information resources simultaneously• An electronic resource management (ERM) system to help staff manage subscriptions to electronic content products• An institutional repository for archiving and accessing scholarly articles or other material produced within the organization• An application for creating and managing local digital content, such as photograph collections, digitized manuscripts, or other special digital collections “From : Marshall Breeding, Knitting Systems Together, Computers in Libraries, 26(9) 2006, pp 32-35
    20. 20. Some challenges summarised
    21. 21. 1. The individual challenge: perceptionsof role and range of skills • Update web and portal pages - javascript • Maintain RSS feed, blog, WIKI • Work on online tutorials • Produce quality illustrated guides and workbooks • Use online business tools – applications, online calendars and meeting fixers, RSS current awareness systems • Contribute to online reference service via Chat • Put content into VLE environment • Master new resource discovery tools
    22. 22. 1 The individual challenge RSS feeds for current awareness Netvibes My principal current awareness tool now – new since mid 2005 Had RSS workshops for Library staff in Summer 2006 – but how many are using it?
    23. 23. 1. The individual challenge
    24. 24. 1. The individual challenge •Lecture + Podcast •Podcast of student interview •Online quiz •Handbook - 2 formats •Handout - summary •Individual activity •Group tutorial •On-line FAQ
    25. 25. 2. More individual challenges: timemanagement and productivity • Analyse how you spend your time • Delegate to library assistants all around you • Time management in a serious way - the simple “to do” list is a wonderful tool • Keep meetings to a schedule with action points, timelines and designated persons responsible • Multi-tasking at least 4 strands is required – core work, quick bits, unexpected problems, unexpected opportunities • A fast pace of work is required • Need aims, objectives personal and group targets
    26. 26. Sector and Library and Organisation information knowledge Managing and skills self Learning and ICT teachingProjectworking Marketing
    27. 27. 3. The challenges of lack of confidenceand risk aversion on digital service• You cannot wait months or years before developing digital library service• You don’t need to wait and see what other libraries are doing every time – you can lead as well as follow• “A little less conversation a little more action”• You may have failures but that is an acceptable risk to take, rewards don’t come without risk• Libraries need an experimental strand, with no definite known outcomes at the start, to run alongside the normal management targets and timelines “Always say yes”
    28. 28. 4. Challenge: Am I turning into a legacy staffproblem? librarySquidoolens??? –you’ve gotto be joking!
    29. 29. 4. Challenge: Am I turning into a legacystaff problem? … Spreading FUD about beta level technologies in their infancy doesnt elevate libraries or librarians, it makes us look even more antiquated than were all ready perceived (Go ahead, ask any teenager). []
    30. 30. 5. Some challenges for management:agility, quick response and retainingcontrol“As organizations libraries are slow movers, hosted by slowly moving institutions. Libraries are slow to recognize the fact that a new technology may allow [or beg] for a new mode of operations. The information world runs on Internet time” (Van de Sompel, 2000)
    31. 31. 5. Some challenges for management: agility, quick responseand retaining control• Agile and quick systems for strategy formulation and decision-making• A different vision of meetings and how to do them• Bring in all grades and people from all teams• Bring individual enthusiasts into the process, avoid Techno-Worship• Avoid by-passing of management structures• Need a proper managed cycle: – Brainstorming for new and modified services – Planning for services and success – Evaluating those services on a regular basis
    32. 32. 6. Some more challenges formanagement: planning the digitallibrary in the longer term and sorting outthe mess• Senior management must lead developments as well as manage them• We need a long term strategic plan• We need to put all developments into a wider coherent plan• We need to review the wide range of digital systems that we have• We need to begin to integrate systems and also to work on interoperability
    33. 33. 7. Some more challenges formanagement• Can we evolve or must we radically transform?• Tweak existing teams or have totally new ones to match our digital library?• Some new types of library role?• Mainstreaming v. Dedicated e-service teams?• The IT skills issue
    34. 34. Just a few Solutions to end with
    35. 35. Possibilities – New types of roleOnline tutorial developers, Podcast developers, Blog and WIKI developers, Library business process managers, Information Skills co-ordinators, Website managers, Data librarians, GIS librarians, repository managers
    36. 36. Possibilities – New groups• Emerging Technologies Group• Web Development Group• Electronic Resources Framework
    37. 37. Possibilities – new library teams Review current workflows Identify mainstreaming opportunities and changes in role needed Identify where extra staff could be added to supplement teams Consider what additional Digital library teams are needed with what skills
    38. 38. Possibilities – awareness and trainingprogramme for library staff 1-off events Series of related training All year round programmes External programmes
    39. 39. A more radical approach required?BY ROB FAULKNER“When McMaster University hailed the hiring of a new chief librarian last year, then-provost Ken Norrie called the arrival of the new man a “coup.” Now, just seven months into the job, Jeffrey Trzeciak is shedding parts of the old regime and changing the basic mission of the library.Forget resorting the card catalogue — his “transformation ” is all about Second Life, blogs, wikis and the hiring of what’s likely the first gaming librarian at a university library…..”
    40. 40. A more radical approach required?Digital Transition Brings Changes to LC’s Workforce“…LC Director for Workforce Acquisitions Bill Ayers said 200 employees had taken advantage of a voluntary retirement incentive for librarians who had become “very comfortable” with traditional librarianship and chose not to gain new technological skills …LC is preparing a workforce transformation initiative to help current employees upgrade their abilities while attracting new staff with digital- era skills.”
    41. 41. Thank