Tough Choices for Academic Research Libraries

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From a presentation at Penn Libraries, October 2013. The challenge question: What are three tough choices academic research libraries face in support of teaching, research & learning, and how would you address them.

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Tough Choices for Academic Research Libraries

  1. 1. Choices Kim Eke
  2. 2. Challenge: What are the 3 toughest choices academic research libraries face in support of teaching, research, and learning, and how would you address them?
  3. 3. Context is important.
  4. 4. Universities are under enormous pressures from within and outside the academy to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
  5. 5. These changes call into question the value of higher education.
  6. 6. Our graduates face an uncertain future.
  7. 7. This has led to calls for greater affordability, transparency, and accountability.
  8. 8. All of this is happening while we witness the “unbundling of education.”
  9. 9. Get your content, credentialing, testing, and textbooks from the vendor(s) of your choice.
  10. 10. Remix & recombine in ways that are more affordable & customized to learners.
  11. 11. Technology change is rapid, relentless, & unpredictable.
  12. 12. We are on a roller coaster of rising expectations while budgets have (at best) leveled off or declined.
  13. 13. Sometimes you just want it all to stop...
  14. 14. This is the context within which academic research libraries operate.
  15. 15. Forces tugging on the university, are exerting pressure upon libraries as well.
  16. 16. There is no safe space to hide. This is the “new normal.”
  17. 17. The predictions are dire. Pundits & prognosticators tell us most institutions will not survive.
  18. 18. ? How do we survive in this time of rapid change? (Especially when we have full time jobs already.)
  19. 19. When there is no sun, we can see the evening stars. - Heraclitus
  20. 20. The fact that you may not see all aspects of your current situation, does not mean they don’t exist.
  21. 21. The sun represents the traditional, the familiar. The stars represent less obvious aspects of our situation.
  22. 22. When we look up at the night sky, perhaps new stars (or new opportunities) come into view.
  23. 23. What are we not seeing in our current situation that may help us navigate this changing environment?
  24. 24. A word about the sun: It’s warm & should be appreciated. We need both sun and night skies.
  25. 25. Let’s return to our intrepid diver who is considering taking the plunge. Fad
  26. 26. Perhaps she doubting she has what it takes. Or, she can’t swim. Or, the water is cold. Fad
  27. 27. Maybe no one will notice if she just stands there for a while and then leaves... Fad
  28. 28. Probably this whole swimming thing is a fad like MOOCs and digital humanities. Fad
  29. 29. But what if it’s not? What if...
  30. 30. Declining usage
  31. 31. Declining usage Unsustainable costs
  32. 32. Declining usage Unsustainable costs Viable alternatives
  33. 33. Declining usage Unsustainable costs Viable alternatives Demands for new services
  34. 34. Declining usage Unsustainable costs Viable alternatives Demands for new services What if all are indicators that we truly are in the midst of a major transition?
  35. 35. The good news is that Penn is ahead of the game. You’ve taken a holistic, longer term view than peers.
  36. 36. But it’s still going to be a challenge.
  37. 37. Tough choices
  38. 38. Technologies
  39. 39. 1997 1999 2005 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013
  40. 40. 1997 1999 2005 How will you determine into which technologies 2010 2008 to invest limited time & resources? 2011 2012 2013
  41. 41. What services will you provide? Services?
  42. 42. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Jan. 2013 Library Services in the Digital Age 80% Borrowing books is very important 80% Reference librarians are very important 77% Free access to computers/internet is very important
  43. 43. Pew Internet and American Life Project, Jan. 2013 Library Services in the Digital Age 69% Tech “petting zoos” - likely to use 62% Redbox-like kiosks - likely to use 62% GPS in buildings - likely to use
  44. 44. The scale of change confronting research libraries is unprecedented, and successfully responding will require disruptive thinking and novel solutions. -- Rick Luce, No Brief Candle
  45. 45. How will you balance traditional & new services?
  46. 46. Who will help you lead & manage the transition?
  47. 47. How do you think differently when you have years of experience thinking in a particular way?
  48. 48. It can be daunting.
  49. 49. Thought Let’s do a thought experiment. experiment
  50. 50. Thought Imagine that all of the conditions are perfect. experiment
  51. 51. Thought You’ve decided upon a new service to roll-out. experiment
  52. 52. Thought The team is on-board. The technology choice is made. experiment
  53. 53. You decide to jump!
  54. 54. And you fail. Utterly & completely.
  55. 55. It’s ok. Come up for air. Learn from it.
  56. 56. Building the future is too important to fear a little failure.
  57. 57. How can we approach these challenges?
  58. 58. Values
  59. 59. Agency Values
  60. 60. Agency Values Intention
  61. 61. Agency Values Intention This is the point from which we can act to make tough choices.
  62. 62. Try & assess as you go • Focus pilots on learning & do assessments • Agile approach: quick, iterative, responsive • Collect & publish data • Stories of real people Focus on learnin g
  63. 63. Try & assess as you go • Focus pilots on learning & do assessments • Agile approach: quick, iterative, responsive • Collect & publish data • Stories of real people Dashboards Videos Focus on learnin g
  64. 64. Make friends • Collaborate • Look up & cross institutional boundaries • Expand & leverage your network Radica l collab s
  65. 65. Make friends • Collaborate • Look up & cross institutional boundaries • Expand & leverage your network MOOC Research Streaming VIPs Radica l collab s
  66. 66. Communicate • Ask & listen • Publish your work & findings • Be open & transparent Ask + li sten
  67. 67. Communicate • Ask & listen • Publish your work & findings • Be open & transparent Blog Login page Ask + li sten
  68. 68. If we can imagine it, we can create it.
  69. 69. Thank you Kim Eke kimberlyeke@yahoo.com
  70. 70. Penn Photo credits http://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofpennsylvania/6220148665/sizes/l/in/set-72157623638790070/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofpennsylvania/7197925732/in/set-72157629728357460 http://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofpennsylvania/8552895416/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/universityofpennsylvania/5600446733/in/set-72157630315948732

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