Monthly Archives: October 2012

Libraries of the future – Part 1

Libraries are constantly evolving, this we know. But into what? What is the end product? Or will we remain in a constant state of evolution for all time? It could take years, decades, millennia etc. to gain the answer to that last question, but it is great fun to ponder and give yourself a migraine with all the possibilities. But don’t we as Librarians or rather Information Professionals have to evolve with the Library? Are we doing that successfully and to the best of our ability?

Here’s my question to you… what do you want the next evolution of Libraries to be?

This is a totally open ended question, there are no marks or prizes and you don’t need referencing to back up your theories. They can be completely new! Feel free to debate also.

Personally I can see the possibilities to a shift towards running Library client services divisions more like a retail outlet. Staff aren’t hiding behind the desks, but actively out on the floor connecting with clients. Kind of a roving reference, but we teach them not to force themselves on students. Nothing worse than those staff in stores that hover and won’t leave you alone to decide.

Connecting with clients

In the way distant future (or possibly sooner who knows) I can see a move to something along the lines of ANZ mobile lenders. Rather than students/clients coming in for Research Consultations, Librarians go out to their homes and show them how to search from their personal computers at home. Librarians could show them everything from how to download and set up endnote (including showing them how to have a mobile endnote library),  to how to construct search strategies, identify important journals and set up RSSFeeds. This would also require Librarians to be much more technically minded which honestly I think is sorely needed anyway.

We must become Super Librarians!

I can also see a path for Librarians embedded within faculties and schools and even stay at home Librarians, which would work somewhat like stay at home IT peoples. You have your other work to do, but are also logged in to receive calls and IMs.


Felix Baumgartner’s Historic Jump

Felix Baumgartner
from redbullstratos.com

Felix Baumgartner has redefined what human beings can achieve through succeeding in smashing the skydiving record held by Colonel Joe Kittinger (retired) since August 16, 1960.

Baumgartner is no newbie to freefall, he started skydiving at the age of 16 and has always pursued his passion of aviation building a career by pushing the boundaries of human flight. He is well known for skydiving across the English Channel. The jump from the RedBull Stratos however has dwarfed his previous achievements.

43 year old Baumgartner ascended to a height of 128,051 ft in the stratosphere, before stepping off into the skies above New Mexico and free-falling back to Earth on October 14, 2012. Felix reached an estimated speed of 1,342 kilometres per hour (834 mph), or Mach 1.24.

Whilst Baumgartner certainly smashed the highest freefall record, he was in actual freefall for 4 minutes, 19 seconds, this is actually 17 seconds shy of his mentor Joe Kittinger’s 4 minutes, 36 second record from 1960. Previous highest freefall record holder Kittinger jumped to earth from a height of 102,800 feet from a high altitude balloon, he has a permanent spot in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Kittinger, being a National Aeronautics Association Elder Statesman of Aviation holds a great amount knowledge in this field and therefore was asked to join the RedBull Stratos team to provide his knowledge to ensure the success of the jump that would break his record.

Felix Baumgartner & Joe Kittenger
from usnews.com

Missing out on longest freefall most likely wont upset Felix too much as completing this colossal feat has earned Felix 3 other world records;

  • after 2hrs 2mins of ascent he broke the record for highest manned balloon flight,
  • first human to break the sound barrier during freefall
  • highest freefall

These can be added to his growing list of records, including;

  • highest parachute jump from a building (Petronas Towers in Kaula Lumpur, 1999),
  • world lowest base jump (30m-high arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, 1999),
  • first person to skydive the English Channel (2003),
  • highest parachute jump from a building (Taipei 101, 2007).


Part 2 – Evaluative report

Part 2A. – Evaluative statement utilising OLJ experiences

I have chosen to focus on the three experiences in my OLJ that I gained the most from professionally. Interestingly, deciding which three entries which had been most beneficial proved rather difficult.

The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world

As an Academic Librarian, a large part of my role is connecting information; staff are trained to locate and critically evaluate information for clients as well as teach them these skills so they can perform their own searches. Lorenzo’s ideas surrounding “information literacy” are very interesting (2007, p.2), it is not too late to learn this at University, but ultimately it would be best if people learnt these skills at a younger age. Compounding this is the fact that relying on the words “peer review” might not be an option for much longer (Wittenburg, 2007) and also that places like Google and Wikipedia appear to now be the “go to” for information (Garfinkel, 2008, p.84). Whilst reading and learning about this was valuable, it took a query from a student attempting to reference a Facebook post to make me realise how vital and current this topic really is. This experience allowed me to suggest and be involved in the evaluation of my workplace’s current reference guides in order to include social media.

Building a market strategy for social media

Utilising various platforms of social media is gaining popularity with Libraries. Whilst this provides a slightly less formal and more social interaction with clients, it is important the organisation is not represented poorly. Building a marketing strategy and policy prior to implementing any social media technology is vital. As discussed in my post, the questions outlined by Brown (2009) provide a sound foundation when building a marketing strategy. Two of the most important I feel are “Does the organisation have a social media policy?” and “Who is the target audience?”

A social media policy provides comprehensive guidelines regarding appropriate behaviour as deemed by the organisation, particularly in outlining socially acceptable practices, and cultural and ethical matters. This document assists staff engaging with clients via social media and clearly defines what is suitable to be publicised in this arena, preventing any embarrassment to the staff or the organisation as a whole (Schrier, 2011). Previously I had no knowledge of social media policies. However, due to knowledge gained through my studies, my assistance was requested in the creation of a social media policy for my workplace. The resulting document covers all social media currently used and is suitable for application to any additional platforms the Library wishes to explore.

My newfound knowledge also resulted in being asked to contribute to the evaluation of the social media platforms the Library uses, regarding effectiveness, improvements and possible expansion to other technologies. I introduced Bernoff’s (2012) Social Technographics profiles to staff involved and all found these extremely intriguing, they were referred to during the evaluation of the platforms. Consequently, when evaluating information gained (for example from Facebook statistics) and looking at the profiles, we were able to provide meaningful, considered suggestions.

 What is a Librarian in a web 2.0 world?

Prior to undertaking this subject I engaged in social networking and felt I had a reasonable understanding of what constituted “Librarian 2.0”. However, this subject made me consider this concept afresh. The works of Harvey (2009) and Abram (2012) instilled realisation that one did not gain the title “Librarian 2.0” by simply knowing how to use a few social media platforms. To remain relevant, I feel it is vital for Libraries to attain “Library 2.0” status and this begins with the Library’s staff.

Originally for this post I provided what I felt were basic vital skills for Librarians to possess. I still agree with this list, however after further completion of this subject I believe it essential to include information fluency – the ability to unconsciously and smoothly move between the critical skills of finding relevant information, devising solutions, collaborating, creating and communicating (Lorenzo, 2007, p.2). Librarians not only need this skill, but also the ability to teach it to others.

Currently a large portion of staff at my workplace does not hold the skills discussed above. As a University Library this isn’t ideal, therefore I have dialogued with management and recommended they consider:

  • engaging staff in professional development sessions surrounding these areas;
  • raising the current accepted IT competency level for all staff;
  • investigating ways staff who do not have one, could develop a Personal Learning Network (Klingensmith, 2009),
  • encouraging staff to get their own RSS reader, subscribe to professional sites and spend 30minutes per day engaging in professional reading.

Part 2B. – Reflective statement on development

This subject was chosen due to personal interest in social media and my growing belief that knowledge of social media and its potential is vital to Librarians of the future. I was unprepared for the large impact this subject had on my skills in this area generally and in my workplace specifically. Multiple opportunities for involvement with projects have eventuated due to knowledge gained from this subject. These include:

  • Creating a social media policy for the organisation:
    I liaised with the Marketing & Promotions Officer in the research and writing of this policy. This was my first attempt at policy writing; knowledge gained from this subject gave me the confidence I needed. This document is in draft form, but is close to completion.
  • Being involved with future social media planning for the Library:
    I was involved in creating questions for focus groups with students regarding the Library’s social media presence. Subsequently, I aided in assessing the data collected and making suggestions to management in a report.
  • Reviewing the Library’s current social media platforms, assessing their success and recommending improvements:
    I volunteered for a staff group formed to discuss the Library’s social media presence. This group reviewed the current situation (taking into account staff opinion and student responses from the focus groups mentioned previously) and discussed possible improvements and additions.
  • reviewing and improving our website:
    As a result of exploring RSS feeds offered by other University Libraries, I realised our own RSS page was inadequate. The page was outdated and not easily locatable from the homepage even if searching for it. I approached my manager and received permission to update the page. Also flagged for 2013 is investigating ways to offer more via RSS than we previously have. This page still isn’t as visible as I would like, but it is still progress.
  • In addition to the above, I am now a regular contributor to the Library’s Facebook content.

RSS feeds page

Through the completion of assignment two I gained many skills, including:

  • Comprehensive project planning,
  • Evaluating social media technologies against an organisation’s business plan or mission statement to ascertain which technologies could meet organisational needs.
  • Research for this assignment also unveiled a technology called Hootsuite which allows pre-programming of Facebook posts (Hootsuite media inc., 2012). For social media to be successful it needs to be “active”; unless it is well maintained it will not be used by clients, therefore content needs to be regularly added (Brown, 2010). Previously my workplace did not post messages over weekends and holidays, but now utilises Hootsuite to make such posts.

Something really unexpected resulting from this subject was a personal issue of knowledge management regarding tacit knowledge. This subject provided me with new knowledge and skills and I was motivated to use them in my workplace. Some knowledge is easily imparted by providing staff with research to inform themselves or providing management with suggestions. Whereas, the tacit knowledge I gained from this subject is more difficult to impart and I am still seeking ways to effectively and successfully do this (Oye, Salleh & Noorminshah, p.72).

Prior to this subject I had a WordPress blog. Whilst I occasionally wrote a Library-related post it was certainly not a professional blog. Since posting professional content I have noticed a marked increase in visits to my blog  as well as comments. Initially I assumed that these were other students in the course, however my post titled “The challenge of finding authentic information in a socially networked world” was scooped by Joyce Valenza for her Scoop.it! toolkit entitled, “Information Fluency transliteracy research tools” (Valenza, n.d.). This was the first time I felt not like a student, but like a professional who has information worth contributing. Writing professionally has encouraged me to read widely and keep abreast of new trends, it pushed me to refine my RSS feeds to ensure I receive valuable, relevant content and made me think of myself in a wider context than just my workplace.

This subject has had a huge impact on my knowledge, skills and has opened up new avenues for me professionally. It has made me aware of the necessity of keeping abreast of developments in social networking technologies to be truly effective in my career. It is easy to become entrenched in the day-to-day workload and accept the status quo. However, for an informational professional, knowledgeable about developments and innovations in information dissemination and communication is essential. This should be easier for me in the future with the establishment of my PLN, Twitter account and RSS feeds instigated by this course. The success I have experienced with my blog has also inspired me to continue professionally posting.

 

References

Bernoff, J. (2012). The global social takeover. Retrieved fromhttp://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2012/01/the-global-social-takeover.html  on 15 September, 2012.

Brown, A. (2010). A to Z of social networking for libraries. Retrieved from http://socialnetworkinglibrarian.com/2010/01/22/a-to-z-of-social-networking-for-libraries/ on 30 July, 2012.

Brown, A. L. (2009). Developing an effective social media marketing strategy. Salt Lake city social media examiner, Retrieved fromhttp://www.examiner.com/article/developing-an-effective-social-media-marketing-strategy on 15 September, 2012.

Garfinkel, S. (2008). Wikipedia and the meaning of truth. Technology Review, 111(6), 84.

Hootsuite media inc. (2012). Social network management. Retrieved from http://hootsuite.com/features/social-networks on 31 August, 2012.

Klingensmith, K. (2009). PLN: Your personal learning network made easy. Retrieved from http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/ on 7 August, 2012.

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture. (March). Retrieved fromhttp://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf

Oye, N.D., Salleh, M. & Noorminshah, A. (2011). Knowledge sharing in the workplace: Motivators and demotivators. International journal of managing information technology, 3(4), p.71-84.

Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital Librarianship & Social Media: the Digital Library as Conversation Facilitator. D-lib Magazine, 17(7/8). Retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july11/schrier/07schrier.html on October 6, 2012.

Valenza, J. (n.d.) Information Fluency Transliteracy research tools: Helping learners perform more meaningful research. Retrieved from http://www.scoop.it/t/research-skills-and-tools on October 8, 2012.

Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electornic Publishing, 10(1). Available http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101