Cilip Presidential Address 2009


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The CILIP 2009 Presidential Address (given on 15 October 2009 at SOAS, London)

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Cilip Presidential Address 2009

  1. 1. Shifting the library paradigm The 2009 CILIP Presidential Address Peter Griffiths CILIP 2009 President
  2. 2. Snapshots of a typical month in the information jungle  “Super Thursday” – 2,500 new titles were published in a single day on 1 October 2009  The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown’s new œuvre  300,000 UK copies sold in 36 hours, over ½ million in first week – 2 million total in UK, US and Canada  5% reported to be e-book sales  The Amazon Kindle went on sale  Simon & Schuster launched the Vook (followed by the Barnes & Noble Nook)  The German Chancellor declared that on grounds of copyright she and her government oppose Google’s plans for a global digital library  Co-incidentally, Sergey Brin defended Google Books in a New York Times article A Library to Last Forever  Ordnance Survey announced innovation licences  free access to OS data for development purposes  Royal Mail issued cease-and-desist notices to the postcode lookup site Ernest Marples Postcodes  US commentator Steven Clift is astonished that UK postcode data is not public property  The US Government made the Federal Register available free of charge online  The London Evening Standard became a free-sheet Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  3. 3. In a packed programme…  A look at the library paradigm  Shifting the paradigm – a bit of history  The future of paper and books  The future of libraries and LIS professionals  What’s wrong with libraries?  Are we drinking in the Last Chance Saloon?  How Google are we?  Fee or free?  What would others do?  What should CILIP do?  What will YOU do? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  4. 4. define:paradigm  The generally accepted view of a given discipline at a particular time (Princeton U)  The accepted model or pattern  A system of assumption, concepts, systems and practices (Wikipedia)  It’s widely considered that paradigms cannot easily be defined in social sciences  A fictional mutant character in Marvel Comics  So maybe we do need to shift that paradigm! Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  5. 5. The library paradigm  “Paradigm shaking”  credit for this term is not mine, but it fits well here  A library is a collection of sources, resources and services, and the structure in which it is housed; it is maintained by a public body, institution or individual  A collection of useful materials for common use (used in this sense in fields such as computer science)  But is that all? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  6. 6. Paradigm shift*?  What is the library paradigm?  What is CILIP’s paradigm?  Are they “fit for purpose” in the second decade of the 21st century?  What can we do? *”a radical change in thinking from an accepted point of view to a new one, necessitated when new discoveries produce anomalies in the current paradigm” Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  7. 7. Disruptive innovations  The printing press  Electronic media  Libraries  Search engines  Google Wired, (US edition), October 2009 calls these innovations “Dangerous Ideas”. Its list contains several information-related suggestions. Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  8. 8. The future of paper – two current views  Books are “where words go to die” (according to Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do – more in a moment)  They cannot be updated once printed  They lack interactivity e.g. there are no direct hyperlinks from the references to the books and articles listed, so you have to hunt them down in order to read the items referenced  Hamlet’s Blackberry*  Paper’s lack of interactivity improves readers’ focus (and the outcomes of their reading experience)  The “gold standard” that e-paper designers strive for is to emulate … er, real paper  Paper will not die at least until e-media are equally as good, and then some *by William Powers. Cambridge, MA, Joan Shorenstein Center, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2006 Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  9. 9. Tape 8 inch A history of publishing Punched disk 5¼ inch disk cartridges (various) tape 3½ inch DVD diskette Punched Domesday cards Disc (oops) Copies of 1086 version still going strong HDD Magnetic CD tape USB drive Camera Electronic media cards (SD, CF, XD…) Quasi-electronic media Paper See how many electronic formats we’ve had in 30 years – and how many of them are already obsolete and unreadable Ephemeral (e-mail, old web pages) Growing, multi-format – much is lost forever but still potentially important 1450 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  10. 10. A range of media… Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  11. 11. But reports of the death of paper… like Mark Twain’s death – and indeed his actual quotation – have been exaggerated Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  12. 12. The future of libraries  What’s wrong with libraries? :  Why are libraries still indelibly linked to books, and books alone, in the public’s mind, when we offer so much more?  Why don’t people recognise our roles as facilitators of content creation and as gatherers and keepers of the wisdom of our communities?  Why do people assume that they can’t go to libraries for what they need and want? (What concept do they have of the role of libraries?)  Who makes the policies for managing (y)our LIS?  Political representatives?  Chief librarians (and heads of knowledge)?  Librarians at the service desks?  Users? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  13. 13. Last orders please  We appear to be no longer relevant to many (non) users  Surveys show :  The Google Generation consult their peers, social media, Google … and libraries are way down the list  Members of Generation Y do use the library … so that they can get computer access [Pew survey Dec 2007]  Users of “traditional” services are in decline – simple demographics  At this rate libraries as we know them will be extinct by 2020  along with Woolworths, Setanta, Kodachrome  their business models did not work any more  moral : you cannot live on pick ‘n’ mix forever, nor on media or services that people aren’t buying Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  14. 14. Libraries as place  We have award winning libraries in great locations  Brighton, Norwich, and more to come (such as Birmingham)  Yet Gen Y users aren’t bothered – and that’s a challenge to us  They’re mobile, they’re online, they tweet as they go  They challenges our ways of working (but don’t forget some of their fellow library users like service the old fashioned way)  New uses (and users) for library space  How do you challenge people like the US college principal who abolished the library  “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’  Our current paradigms are not good enough for future use  At least, not if we want any kind of job security or satisfaction Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  15. 15. What would others do?  Let’s look at what might happen if we let some well known organisations take over libraries and information services Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  16. 16. If the supermarket chains ran public libraries…  There would be edge-of-town super-libraries  Do libraries still have to be close to user population? –  rural disadvantage is not sustainable in Digital Britain, but services are focused on fixed branch libraries, the bigger the library the more services  people are used to travelling to shopping centres far from home  if library standards no longer matter in some parts of the UK, why do we still bother to count how many people live more than a mile from their nearest library?  The mobile library would deliver at a time of your choosing, bringing a crate of books you’d ordered online, and would suggest some DVDs (and possibly offer to tax your car)  What is success in our business?  many copies of best-sellers in stock, everything else to order?  a wide and eclectic range but you may have to wait for popular items? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  17. 17. If public libraries were run like budget airlines …  The libraries would cost each council tax payer 2p a year, BUT  there would be a charge of £5 for checking out each book  and oversize books would cost an extra £3  Books would be filed on the shelves anywhere there was still a gap  You’d be charged for every shopping bag you brought into the library  You would have to enter and leave the library via external steps to the first floor  Major towns would be served by branches in small villages 50 miles away Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  18. 18. If Google ran libraries  The library would have a trillion items always in stock  though the librarian might not be able to find the one you want  and you might only be able to read 20% of it in random chunks unless you bought it  You’d almost always get an answer to your query  and though there would be no book selection you’d be told which items everyone else thought were best  the top three books would be sponsored by the local bookshop  There’d be lots of outreach services  and a lot more fuss about how innovative they were Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  19. 19. Hang on a minute …  Google’s states that its ambition is to manage the world’s knowledge  That’s what we do!  Google says it wants to find and present the most authoritative sources of information  That’s what we do!  Google is putting together a collection of all the world’s books  That’s what we do!  Google wants to support communities of information  That’s what we do!  We must be a lot more like Google than we thought! Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  20. 20. In fact, hasn’t Google copied us?  “Google acts like libraries. It is the mission of both to organize the world’s information, to make it openly accessible, to find and present the most authoritative (by many definitions) sources, to instil an ethic of information use in the public, to act as a platform for communities of information, to encourage creation”.  “Isn’t Google already running the public library of our digital knowledge?”  Jeff Jarvis, Library Journal, January 22, 2009 Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  21. 21. What Would Google Do?  Are libraries and Google inevitable enemies?  “Kill the book to save the book”  Hyperlinking the content of books  Print is portable but wi-fi and broadband are becoming ubiquitous so can offer connectivity to e-book readers and other mobile reading devices  Digital Britain [May 2009]  FCC rural broadband report [May 2009]  Are librarians mere guardians or interpreters of form and content?  How can libraries be “Googlier”?  curating the web – collecting and preserving relevant online content  creating expert online communities  See : Jeff Jarvis, What Would Google Do? Harper Business, 2009. Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  22. 22. How Google-ish are libraries? √ Organisers of knowledge √ Collectors and digitisers of information resources X Open to anyone worldwide, not restricted by location or membership of a particular customer group  Problems using finance from one place to serve another  SCL initiative to provide Universal Access for UK public ? Constantly valuing and brokering information  Google micro-auctions information millions of times per hour  We evaluate and broker information but not on that scale Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  23. 23. What CILIP did  This year’s events  The Web 2.0 open meeting  End result of a blog about control and ownership (a debate we need to conclude)  Information matters  Progress is slow but that’s the pace of government  Highlighted the value of FoQA in supporting the profession  Emphasised the value of continuing collaboration with SOA, BCS and others  Responses to consultations (but there are so many of them!!!)  Digital Britain  Not just £6 tax on your phone bill – opportunity!  Digital inclusion, 21st century schools, 2020 workforce strategy, website quality, public library leadership, 21st century archives, data sharing, children’s health Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  24. 24. What CILIP did  School libraries policy adopted  Awards – CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway, Libraries Change Lives  Published good library guidelines  Launched Encompass  Supported the LIS Research Coalition  A vital step towards providing the evidence base that we must have  At last we can start to demonstrate value Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  25. 25. See the Coalition web site at Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  26. 26. Follow the Coalition on Twitter: @LISResearch Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  27. 27. What you said this year  You welcomed Encompass  You expect greater advocacy on profession-wide, generic issues such as the Google debate  You asked if there’s too much emphasis on specific (public library) issues  You wanted a definition of an effective library service  Last week’s public library document is also good as a generic definition  You want CILIP to emphasise the difference between working in a library and working as an library and information professional  Chief librarians can influence – some good practice e.g. central govt  You said, not all libraries are public libraries, but to look at CILIP you’d think they were  You said, CILIP must get better at leading, not following, into the new professional areas of work  You said, CILIP’s support to B&Gs is weakening because Ridgmount Street staff are too busy to help Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  28. 28. What else you said  You said, CILIP must anticipate developments through horizon scanning, and then take effective action using that knowledge  You said, CILIP campaigns but it doesn’t engage – CILIP needs to narrowcast and target influential decision makers  You asked, why don’t the media ask for CILIP’s view on issues that concern us  Should CILIP comment more on information society issues, not just libraries?  You said, why do we assume that rural areas are not entitled to the same high levels of service as cities and major towns?  You said, the Policy Forum has disenfranchised branches and groups  You said, CILIP’s key people need to get out more to the members (because most members can’t get to London)  You said, CILIP needs to work with other bodies and extend its membership in the wider information profession  We are collaborating with BCS, SOA and RMS on Information Matters Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  29. 29. Some ideas that you had  CILIP should certify websites that carry high quality information, and make an annual award for the best  Maybe linked to Socitm or other information sector awards  There should be a Carnegie for non-fiction titles  We should find creative and innovative ways to help people in mid- career to be professional activists  Career breaks, secondments, work experience (for unemployed / new entrants)  You said, it’s mainly retired members who now can get time for CILIP activism  CILIP’s structures must represent the wider world of information professionalism  Who speaks for information managers in research and corporate environments? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  30. 30. So, what should CILIP do?  Not all perceptions of CILIP are accurate, but if members believe them to be true then they become true as received wisdom  Change has happened but we need more  Not what librarians or business managers or elected members want but what users want  It’s not about how our profession and CILIP were in the past – it’s about how we go forward  So, what do we know about what our users want, and what gives them benefit?  Not much - the Research Coalition will help  So, what should or could CILIP do? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  31. 31. What could CILIP do?  “CILIP Scholar” – we could rate the articles in our excellent free access package of professional journals  “CILIP Books” – a professional e-library  Book of the Month from the Facet catalogue, viewable on screen only, save, download and copy disabled – would benefit members and promote Facet titles  Grow the profession, grow the membership  People are already working in new areas! No need to invent new societies or roles! What’s in it for these people to join CILIP?  How do we acquire members – who benefits from CILIP membership, the employer or the employee?  How can we make CILIP more relevant to Gen Y CILIP members (and especially non-members of CILIP)  How can we make CILIP’s value for money more visible? Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  32. 32. Information Matters – new areas for CILIP  “Every action of government must be open, searchable, and linkable by default”  Jeff Jarvis, What Would Google Do?  Information Matters is the UK Government’s strategy to achieve this…  … but we have to make sure it happens – progress will be slow before the general election…  … and we must ensure that our professional role is recognised not just by our own profession but by government and by the public  CILIP members are among the leaders of this cross-government initiative, using LIS professional skills alongside IT professionals  They highlight a future role for all information professionals –  not simply to curate and store printed information  but to help every citizen locate and understand the publicly held information that affects their life and to help them make informed decisions Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  33. 33. Some issues  Continuity  Presidential themes are annual, but it takes longer (sometimes, much longer) to achieve a result where external players are involved  After eight years have we now a critical mass of past presidents to form a Presidential College?  Engagement with employers  Explaining the value of membership  Persuading employers to give CILIP members time to contribute  What’s in it for employers when they give employees time?  Why doesn’t professionalism matter to employers?  “Those libraries are run by professionals – they act professionally though they’re not actually professional librarians” Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  34. 34. Some tentative conclusions  We are not getting our message across even to our own members  We are not seen as open but as controlling  We are seen as too focused on one sector and one issue  We cannot get across the message that this is not entirely the case  We must address this, and ensure that we work together to spread the word to LIS users and to the wider public  We must tailor our messages to our users, not to ourselves  We must get our message into the boardrooms and into government  We must support would-be activists  Employer engagement – explain benefits of activism  Address creeping de-professionalisation in all sectors  We must continue to address the governance issues  The Audit Panel started work in September  Ensuring initiatives don’t stop on 31 December each year  Not just our own governance – one issue can involve four or five government departments Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  35. 35. What can YOU do?  Drive change from within CILIP  Be an activist and support others to be active  Use your expertise to inform CILIP’s policy process  Help to formulate policies that accurately reflect the issues  Argue the case for LIS professionalism in YOUR workplace  Especially if it’s a non-traditional environment  Recruit LIS professionals to LIS professional posts  Use your expertise and practitioner experience to contribute to the evidence base, and follow @LISResearch  Offer constructive criticism and get involved to make CILIP more open, responsive and modern Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths
  36. 36. Some good news to end with  Our profession faces an insurmountable opportunity  New areas of work more than compensate for losses in our traditional territories, but we must be flexible  So much is happening in the world of information that we must be a key player (or we are corporate toast within five years)  Come to Online and hear me say more!  (Blatant plug) Copyright 2009 Peter Griffiths