My name is Gill Hamilton and these things I know


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Presentation given to the Edinburgh Library And Information Services Agency (ELISA) Open Forum 2020 vision open forum on 25 November 2010.

In my presentation I propose that existing skills for library technologist will be transferable to 2020 and new skills will be acquired organically.

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  • Theme = Future proofing your career, looking ahead to 2020
    Development of new skills
    Gill – I’ve worked in library systems management and development for 25 years and I’d like to present to you my personal view of the skills and opportunities for the future.
  • 2020 – if there’s one thing I know, its not to predict the future regarding technology. Who’d have predicted web, ebay, facebook. The book was meant to be dead by now and isn’t!
    SO what I propose is that many existing skills that people working with technology in libraries will be transferable to the future and we’ll pick up new skills organically as we have always done. And in some instances we may drop some skills along the way.
  • SO, what of these transferable skills.
    Well the traditional view of the systems librarian is “a bit of a geek” that they hang around
    hardware twiddling with it. But there is a huge decline in the requirement for these skills
    coz a) servers are robust
    b) get IT departments to do that “non-library” work.
    And those technical skills within libraries will continue to decline with the
    advent of cloud computing (more of which later).
    So don’t learn networking, don’t learn how PCs work. If you want to work in library systems
    continue to develop skills in the application layers (your LMS, your DLS) and gain these
    skills through training and on-the-job experience.
  • One of the core skills for those us working with library technology is as a translator
    and communicator and an analyst, It’s like being at the United Nations.
    We listen to our customers (whether they be staff or “real” customers) needs
    and interpret these in to system capabilities / developments. We then
    negotiate what can and cannot be done, what should and should not
    be done and then, as appropriate implement.
    Amongst other things this requires business analysis skills
    and a profound understanding of library process and data.
    In the future these skills will not be going away and we
    might seek to augment them with formalising business analysis skills with additional training.
  • On skill that already exists for systems librarians and will likely increase in the skill of author.
    We will write more:
    Business cases to justify spend in tough economic times
    Functional requirements and specifications so that we can explain to others (like developers, organisations building services for us) what we need.
    Write documentation
    And one thing I can be sure of … we will procure new library systems in the next 10 years. So we need to learn how to prepare procurement documentation
    So we might want to develop our “technical” writing skills
  • And the other skills and behaviors that need to be retained and developed as required.
  • A skill that needs transfers and needs to be retrained is that of the Oracle!
    But this skill is not unique to library technologists. Even catalougers do this too! ;)
    Scan the information systems landscape examining new technologies and
    services and recommending them for consideration for use in the Library.
    The skills for this exist, what is difficult in this is sometimes seeing how
    a new technology or service can be used in a library setting. E.g Facebook
    – when u first look at it you can’t see why a library would use facebook
    but when you realise that half the world (exaggeration!) uses facebook
    then you see it as an opportunity to reach out). Understanding how
    technologies might be used comes from listening to others
    (prof reading, blogs, twitter, seminars). So
  • SO from my scan of the landscape I’d like to predict the following: which is hardly a prediction at all
    More digital.
    More digital publications.
    More digitised stuff
    Perhaps a small decline in print
    We need to manage the digital stuff.
    We need to converge and consolidate our print and digital
    workflows for efficiency purposes.
    Skills might include: digitisation skills (but you might outsource that),
    business analysis, digital preservation?, digital transformation
  • We will probably adopt some or lots of cloud computing services.
    Cloud computing is where you use external technical infrastructures.
    So your LMS application doesn’t run on a server in your library, but rather
    it runs on a giant server outwith the library, along with lots of other libraries.
    You store all your digitisation on network storage outside the library.
    You use the power of computers outside your library to process your data.
    This will happen with our LMS’s
    This will happen with our data.
    We could build an Edinburgh cloud. We could build a Scottish cloud.
    We could be part of the global cloud!
    Skills: less technical more working in a collaborative and cooperative environment.
  • And lastly, web3.0 (linked open data)
    Extend our metadata so that it can be link to other data and
    publish it so anyone can use and re-use it
    This will see improved use of collections and improved retrieval for humans and machines
    New services being built by others using our data
    our data is good coz it’s structured and authoritative
    We need to process our data OR have others do it for us.
    Skills are: data mapping and transformation (XSLT) but you can,
    perhaps extending existing systems to accommodate URIs (the things that link the data),
  • My name is Gill Hamilton and these things I know

    1. 1. my name is Gill Hamilton and these things I know
    2. 2. 2020
    3. 3.
    4. 4. USUAL SUSPECTS planning adaptable to change flexible neutral customer focussed service orientated
    5. 5.
    6. 6. in summary • ditch technical • be confident in your existing skills • evolve
    7. 7. thanks! gill hamilton