The digital humanities pulls books from the shelves and archive collections from their boxes and puts them into digital forms, allowing the remix of these known items and produces new discovery. Computers can collect common elements faster and in greater detail than has been previously possible. One excellent example of this comes from the Smithsonian Institution. Different data sets from through their multiple museums have been culled and can now be remixed. This tool takes known items from art, history, natural science and zoology and finds new relationships when data elements shares common traits. Employing metadata principles, thesaurus vocabularies and customized technology, the Smithsonian search engine leverages their special collections, opens scholarly investigation to a global internet audience and promises educational discovery in novel ways unimagined before the leveraging of metadata computerization (http://collections.si.edu/search/).
The University of Washington pulled out their box of old photographs, and then using a sophisticated list of vocabulary, applied these descriptive characteristics to their J. Willis Sayers portrait collection of theatrical figures from history. The use of a common set of descriptive words allows the photographs to be mined for commonalities between these historic figures and discover new relationships by leveraging this data (http://content.lib.washington.edu/sayrepublicweb/index.html).
Academia finds this discovery process in many forms. A novel pioneer is Smarthistory ((http://smarthistory.org), a digital textbook initiative investigates the discipline of art history. Databases are a more common form of exploration. The electronic collection academic journals, JSTOR, allows searches based not only on the text of the articles, but this vocabulary can also be applied to mine the captions of the images contained within the articles (http://www.jstor.org/). GeoRef explores the journals of science and has expanded search to figures, charts and tables within the articles (http://www.agiweb.org/georef/index.html). Now the trend of e-books are fast becoming a significant library investment and this is just the tip of the iceberg for new tools. The current level of detail and the breadth of materials that can be simultaneously searched, produces a new era of discovery for academic communities.
Librarians have a great responsibility to stay abreast of electronic resource collections. Daily the electronic publishers make database search changes, as well as add new technological services. These job responsibilities are in addition to the review of new database products and collection development functions. But there is much more to the job than just keeping up on the electronic publishing world. Librarians must also face the increasing distant between the reference desk and bridge the learning gap being created in the self-service cyber world. New responsibilities include the need to publicize, promote, educate and train not only students but also the faculty and other library staff. At face value the single search box seemed so simple and many assumed it would create self-service in an electronic library world, but that conclusion would be ignorant of the digital resource complexities and new research methods.
Computational knowledge is all the rage. The recent WolframAlpha Data Summit was a sellout event as a wide variety of database owners gathered to explore how to generate answers from data that may be just sitting gathering dust. The range of data under consideration is expanding, including data from movies, UNICEF, and BBC. The conference, http://www.wolframdatasummit.org/ was by invitation only and interest exceeded capacity. The community hosts a blog at http://blog.wolframalpha.com/ to stay updated on their latest ingestation of data.
Washington, DC chapter of Special Libraries Association, http://units.sla.org/chapter/cdc/ hosted Troy King of the US Census Bureau for an overview of data available from this agency. The most striking point of his presentation was education needed to understand the data. http://www.census.gov/
The Census Bureau offers a great model of information literacy. Although ‘everything’ is on the Web, that does not equate to easily understood statistics, followed by responsible use of data. Supporting complex electronic data with free training opportunities, offered in a variety of instructional formats, seems to be a socially responsible solution. I personally like the human interaction approach, but perhaps that is why I became a librarian!
Students can now study pre-1640 Shakespearean works in the comfort of their favorite computer chair. With the help of some freely available software, the Folger Library tour taken by the Catholic University Special Libraries student group, discovered the incredible access students have to this magnificent manuscript and digital image collection.
Web-based access to Folger Digital Image collections is readily obtainable and is supported by Luna Insight. Instructions for installing the software are at provided at the Folger Shakespeare Library website. Take a look at books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and even a letter written by Queen Elizabeth I.
If verse is the focus of study, take at look at Union First Line Index . Supporting metadata uses Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), creating a database searchable by numerous fields, including keyword, first line, last line, author, title, repository and item shelfmark. The collaborative efforts of this project produces international book sharing hosted by seven prestigious library collections in both the US and the UK. The opportunity to experience rare books is no longer limited to only the traveling scholars of the world.
User services often incorporate library instruction to address information seeking research when dealing with either complex problems or collections with both frequent and infrequent visiting patrons. This includes not only academic research, but can also extend to approaches for digital resources in corporations and government, museums, special archives or interests such as genealogy. Instructional programs can range from orientation tours, book talks, bibliographic resources, information organization, information literacy and research process, database instruction and more. The following are useful models that aid design and production of curriculum.
Kuhlthau’s information search process http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/index.html
Eisenberg and Berkowitz’s Big6 stages of seeking or applying information to solve a problem
Bloom’s Taxonomy that help to develop different types of learning
Lorenzen provides a historical overview of library instruction in the U.S. at http://www.libraryinstruction.com/lihistory.html
Information professions and librarians have been identified on the organizational chart as “serving the white spaces.” It is essential to learn to work with and through others to achieve effective and efficient operations of libraries and information services.
Professor Blane Dessy sees the process beginning with self-managment.
•Best Manager/Worst Manager
•Working in an Adaptive Culture
•Ethical Work Climate
•Personal Decision Style?
•Organic vs. Mechanistic Organizational Structures
•Want to Be an HR Manager?
•How Tolerant Are You?
•Personality Assessment: Jung and Myers-Briggs
These exercises helped strengths and weaknesses dealing with all the areas which managers must be proficient as identified in the SLIS proessional competencies for management:
1) strategic management and planning; 2) human resource management; 3) budgeting and financial management; 4) marketing, including promotion; 5) ethical management; 5) leadership; 6) communication; 7) negotiation and teamwork; 8) the management of technology; 9) change and innovation; and 10) and the evaluation of organizational processes and programs.
Resource and collection development competencies start with a foundational understanding of the philosophy of reference service. This includes the legal and ethical responsibilities by members of the profession relevant to the provision of information. Due to the wide variety of settings where librarians and information professionals may practice, the philosophy also explores an understanding of the economic, political, cultural, and social importance of the information profession, which may not always be in sync with the workplace values.
The American Library Association’s (ALA) code of ethical conduct: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm
The Library Bill of Rights from ALA:
The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) has a code of ethics: http://www.aiip.org/CodeOfEthics
AIIP also has a Statement of Policy Concerning Intellectual Property Rights http://www.aiip.org/IntellectualPropertyPolicy
American Society for Information Science and Technology has Professional Guidelines http://www.asis.org/professionalguidelines.html
Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals also has a Code of Ethics http://www.scip.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=578&navItemNumber=504
The expertise for resource and collection development skills involves the ability to evaluate, acquire, organize, disseminate, manage and preserve information. Evaluation begins with professional standards to determine the fitness of sources to meet particular information needs. A broad skill set requires familiarity with multiple and emerging formats of information. User group diversity, due to Internet communication and global population migration patterns, is another labyrinth to navigate. The complexity for selection decisions reaches beyond format and subject matter, but also must incorporate multidimensional issues such as ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and geographic diversity. Resources must serve information seekers in a global society.
The proliferation of both print and electronic sources requires demonstrated proficiency in retrieving all formats of information, starting with the ability to design basic search strategies. Not only are these skills required for using information technologies, but the ability to articulate this process to users is equally essential. Information retrieval incorporates evaluation, synthesis, interpretation and application skills. Writing and presentation skills are critical for information delivery as well as facilitating information management.
An external awareness of economic, political and social trends is necessary for anticipating current and future user needs. A large measure of curiosity, dedication to professional growth, drive for continuous learning, and desire to apply new knowledge to improve information systems and services is critical for information professionals in such a fast paced society.
Information resource management encompasses de-selection in a cost effective manner, along with establishing and maintaining storage, preservation and conservation plans. Disaster planning, working with archival standards, managing circulation and determining access control are also possible responsibilities. Electronic resource management includes contract negotiation, contractual compliance, technological support, and a current understanding of intellectual property, digital rights, copyright, licensing and intellectual freedom.
Library and information service staff must successfully communication across the organization and be skilled in articulating the role information services plays in terms of institutional value. Managers must know the principles and methods to effectively assess current and emerging situations or circumstances. Organizational knowledge is vital for successful design, implementation and development of appropriate resources. Leadership and negotiation skills help develop effective policies and procedures for the provision of services. This also requires a strong aptitude for marketing, public relations and library promotion in a time of information overload and stretched economic resources.
Competencies provide a measure of skill, knowledge and ability assessment integrated into the School of Library and Information Science at a program level and then broken out into specifics for each course. In academia it provides a framework for the curriculum and measurable learning outcomes. From my perspective, it’s the assets I bring to an employer. It is also the very complex answer to “what do librarians do these days?”
From the broad prospective, the competencies include:
- Information Organization;
- Professional Identity;
- Resource And Collection Development;
- User services.
Starting with the professional identity grounds the theory for all the other competency areas. Librarians have a long established history for taking leadership in society as the defender of information and the importance of preserving it for cultural heritage. Advocates for open access to information have professionally established values, principles, legal and ethical responsibilities they bring to the work environment. Librarians have an enduring sense of commitment to advance the knowledge of individual users and collectively to better humanity, particularly important for a democratic form of government to thrive.
Several professional associations provide a code of conduct to cover the field of library and information science. The American Library Association is probably best known and represents the members most visible to the public through public libraries, school libraries and academic libraries. American Library Association (ALA) Core Competences of Librarianship, approved by ALA’s Presidential Task Force on Library Education, May 2008
The Special Library Association combines common goals, problem solving and innovation between organizations such as museums, federal libraries, hospitals, law, universities, research, news, and more. Special Libraries Association (SLA) http://www.sla.org/content/learn/comp2003/index.cfm
These are additional specialized professional library associations and organizations that bring professionals together for continual learning, mentoring and career development.
- American Society for Information Society and Technology
- Art Libraries Society of North America
- Association of Catholic Libraries
- Association of Christian Librarians
- Association of Independent Information Professionals
- Association of Jewish Libraries
- Association of Research Libraries
- Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC)
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
- Medical Library Association
- Music Library Association
- Society of American Archivists
- Society of Competitive Intelligence
- Special Libraries Association
Molly Raphael, presidential candidate for the American Library Association, spoke at the CUA campus on March 17. Her wide variety of experiences and broad perspective of libraries appealed to me. However, what resonated most was her “defending core values.” In praise of this, I offered by support on her Facebook page:
Thank you for taking time to visit Catholic University of America’s School of Library and Information Science. I am excited about your stated priorities and share your drive to maintain open access to information. This is particularly alarming as our society becomes more electronically driven and at the same time the economic downturn is forcing more middle class people to stop their connection service. Libraries have become a sole source of connection for these people, in addition to the low-income segment of our population. Now more than ever the U.S. cannot afford to have lawmakers blindly reduce library budgets, that thereby reduce library hours, which results in closure to information. Lawmakers need to recognize that a democratic society cannot exist without freedom to access information and how essential library services are now, more than ever, in the increasingly digital information dependent society.
If books are the only image that comes to mind when someone says “libraries,” remember this is just one small faucet of today’s institutions. At the foundation of libraries lies intellectual freedom, privacy and open access. The reinforcements of reading and information literacy are equally vital to a fully functioning democracy.
When visits take place within library walls, a collection of exceptional materials based on professional criteria awaits the patron who can select from this prearranged material to meet their needs as they see fit. It now all seems so old fashioned. But just think how much more important this institution should become as society flails in a flood of unfiltered information. Information searches conducted outside the library often eliminate the librarian assistance element. When high quality databases are bypassed, excellent web sources are overlooked, and time is wasted in frustrating attempts to find desired information, some may long for the simpler building and book scenario. But rest assured librarians are still here. So, next time you hear the word library, don’t forget to envision extraordinary databases and websites right beside information that remains to be found only in books.