No brief candle
Posted by knockels on 29 August, 2008
This is the title of a report from the Washington DC based Council on Library and Information Resources, a nonprofit body whose mission is to expand access to information. The subtitle is “reconceiving research libraries for the 21st century” (the title is a quotation from Shaw – “Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.“) and it is a set of papers and things from a conference.
There are interesting looking chapters on scholarly publishing and on changing faculty perceptions of librarians, but browsing through the list of contributors and chapters my eye was caught by a chapter by Stephen Nicholls, a professor of French at Johns Hopkins, and therefore Not a Librarian. He talks about co-teaching with the library, and what a difference it can make being able to bring digitised copies of manuscripts into the classroom instead of scholarly editions – the world of French medieval literature, his field, is transformed by this, as students can enter more into that world. He talks also about involving students and scholars in digital library ventures, as well as acknowledging the library’s role in academic ventures. He ends:
“Since the library is often a separate division in the organization of the typical research university, faculty do not think to credit the library’s role in their enterprise.
But time and resources are on the side of the library. More than ever, research libraries generate projects once seen as the province of scholars working alone. Individual faculty now perceive that research libraries have become the venue for large-scale digital enterprises. If they wish to advance their projects, faculty will have to work with their library colleagues—not only a gain for the undertaking itself but also a sure winner when they go to teach it. At least that’s what I have found.”
The report is at http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub142/contents.html [accessed 29th August 2008].