Wednesday, May 5, 2010

UL's Corner: Merced

R. Bruce Miller, University Librarian

1. Reference
What constitutes reference services when all users ask Google and are satisfied with the results? Why would anyone go to the library for reference help? How can we become more involved in developing more sophisticated, semantic-based online access to scholarly information?

2. Library relationships with information providers
Some information providers exist in order to make a profit. Others are non-profit and seek only to cover expenses. Regardless of motivation, the costs are real. We are in a symbiotic relationship in which there is no gain in forcing a provider out of business and that is not sustainable if the library faces costs for which there the budget is insufficient. How can we ensure, for the information providers, that necessary business costs are met and that profits are commensurate with value received and, for the library, that allocated funds can be used for the greatest benefit for our users?

3. Personnel
Increased outsourcing and greater reliance on end-user self service reduces the need for library staff who do routine and repetitive tasks. Those who do work in the library must be highly capable and empowered professionals. How should we develop existing staff and librarians to better prepare them for increased professional responsibility?

4. Technology
Essentially all incoming freshmen own a laptop and most of them also have smart phones. Within a few years, all of our constituents will have mobile computing capabilities that enable full access to the resources of the library, any time and any place. In this context, what is the role of the library in providing technology?

5. Collections
The complete content for the bulk of our journal collections is effectively online. Within a few years, the majority of our monograph collections will also be online. Additionally, our users will have online access to large quantities of scholarly monographs not held within the UC Libraries via HathiTrust. With such ready access to this vast amount of materials, will users abandon use of information resources within the UC Library Collection that are not online? If yes, what should we do differently?

6. Buildings/Facilities
If all users have personal computers with ready access to the Internet and library services and information resources are available online 24/7, why will any users come to a library building?

7. Library campus roles
Librarians comprehend the issues that surround complete life-cycle curation for digital assets. What is the role of the library in working with faculty and students before, during, and after the creation of digital scholarly information resources?

8. Library networks
“Network” is a very broad term that could include OCLC, professional associations, consortia, and even individual professional relationships. One can make a case that the value of a network is directly correlated with provision of access to information resources. How can we weave together myriad information resources that reside in balkanized information systems so that the end user can easily seek information and still be reassured that their search has been thorough?

9. Organizational Cultures in libraries
See comment and question above in 3. Personnel.

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