Monday 23 January 2012

What I've been reading this week

The Libraries @Cambridge blog has listed a number of blogs by Cambridge library staff about the conference. There are a good selection of views expressed and the posts cover everything from single sessions to thoughts on the conference as a whole. There are some really interesting views expressed and the posts make interesting reading. The blogroll can be found here.

Another issue that I've seen a lot about on Twitter is the current restructuring that is going on in Harvard University libraries. There's an excellent blogpost on Daily Kos which explains the situation from a cataloguers point of view and makes for troubling reading. Some good points are made about cataloguers and their role though, such as: They [cataloguers] may not being doing exactly the same job in exactly the same way, but the role of mediator, who stands between the user and the collection and manages the discovery of its materials (in all formats) remains vital.

I think that this is an important point to remember. I have been reading a lot about how libraries must change and offer new services in order to survive. Whilst this is completely true I think that some libraries spend so much time thinking about how they should change that they don't always wonder if they should. From a cataloguing perpective there are plenty of things that could be improved but I don't think that getting rid of traditional methods of service delivery is always the answer.

I've been talking to a number of colleagues about my dissertation, which aims to measure the impact of social media marketing on users of an academic library. Basically: do our users want us on Facebook, Twitter etc. or do they think it's a waste of time (and resources)? Time will tell. The thing that almost all of my colleagues say is that it doesn't seem to them that users want these new services. All they want to know is where their (more often than not) actual physical book is and when they can borrow it. Another colleague recently posted on Twitter that there were two holds on a physical copy of a book even though users had access to the ebook.

I don't know what the results of my research will be but it seems from asking people in the front line that a number of users are happy with the traditional services that libraries provide. They may not be the largest group or the most vocal but they are still there and using the library. This is not to say that libraries don't need to change and adapt, but I think we have done pretty well so far. Hopefully there is a happy balance between old and new that we can continue into the future.

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