UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Digital Library Strategy workshop – a review

Posted by gazjjohnson on 30 January, 2009

Joanne asked if I’d author a few thoughts on this morning’s workshop so here are my reflections.  As I didn’t take many notes you’ll all forgive me if I miss any points out – or perhaps you might like to add them in the comments.

The session was led by Ken Chad whom kicked the session off with the wider context of emegring technological and social development within which we in education work.  Whilst I was familier with some of the aspects, quite a few were real eye openers and I came away from the session with a list of books to track down and read (I’m reading Clay Shirky on the train this week).  He also made me think about getting a FlipVideo camera – before I remembered I already owned a pretty swanky HDD camcorder.

Our very own Richard Mobbs followed up with another excellent talk covering the tech and systems from a more education centric point of view, and again richly illustrated and presented.  Aside from sitting there and thinking “But if we need to support users with these devices and resources we need to become proficient users and exploiters of the resources ourselves.” there’s not a lot a can add here, except to say the statement “Everything Changes” has never seemed so apposite.

The second half of the session was my favourite bit, but then I’ve run and participated in so many conferences and workshops over the years that I love getting my teeth into a challenge*.  I did enjoy working with Team Yellow, though my one regret was we didn’t get to change teams and interact with a wider range of people in the room.  That said the format of 4 areas of challenges and our responses worked very well.  For the record the areas we were considering were:

  1. Content/Collections
  2. Infrastructure/processes
  3. Learning environments
  4. The role of librarians and library services

Our group started the way it intended to go on – bringing chaos to order; but in a fractal rather than dysfunctional kind of way.  We certainly debated, discussed and exchanged ideas at a high volume and velocity.  My apologies to any in the other group who may have been expecting a more thoughtful approach from us; but as was obvious from the number of post-its that went up we all had a lot to contribute.

So what now?  Well now is the hard part and for once I’m glad it’s not me that’s got to get my teeth into synthesising a plan from these ideas; and evaolving this into a straetgy.  That is a lot that we could do, much that we should, and perhaps even more to which we could aspire.  But the question is – which are the best options for us? 

That only time, planning and the wealth of experience possessed by the library and university staff will tell.  We’ve a long road of discovery and innovation ahead of us, and it might be a bumpy ride along the way.  But to failing to travel it is not an option.

*As I’ve noted elsewhere I’ve an activist kinesthetic learning style, which probably explains these things.

6 Responses to “Digital Library Strategy workshop – a review”

  1. sarahw9 said

    Fail to travel is not an option, neither is waiting to see what happens next!!

  2. Gah, just noticed my typo – “failing to travel”. But yeah, I agree Sarah and I’m fairly hopeful on the back of today that we’re taking quite an activist approach to engaging with all this.

  3. ajcann said

    I think the important take home messages are:

    – we can’t do everything
    – not everything we do will be successful
    – the only sure way to fail is to do nothing

  4. Tony Hirst said

    One thing you could start doing straight away is get a good understanding about how your users are using your current digital library offerings through website analytics, digital collection logs etc etc; although you may be doing that already? In whcih case, why not share that insight…?;-)

  5. Hi Tony, and thanks for the link to Arcadia!

    I agree – knowing what people are doing/expecting here is something we really need to start discovering. I’ve spent quite a bit in a previous incarnation doing just this sort of thing, and it’s always suprising what you do discover – often we’re shooting for the moon when the students would be happy with the top of the skyscraper.

    But I’ll hopefully be putting my oar in for a bit of background research to underpin all out plans.

  6. “our plans” even…

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