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Posted in March 2012

The Library of Birmingham and so much more

February 28, 2012
My first time attending the EMEA (Europe, Middle-East and Africa) Regional Council meeting of OCLC. Two days in Birmingham, with I guess over 250 delegates from 22 countries (if I got it right). I started off by attending the morning session on APIs. Interesting was the acknowledgement that we should be thinking of really getting library exposure in the users’ workflow. Examples that got some more indepth presentation time were Antonio Tejada and Hans Siem Schweiger from Citavi – Citavi is a tool to support the entire academic research process; interesting feature they showed was an easy way for the user to find databases the institution has subscriptions to. Citavi is also being used as acquisition management tool. The link with the other indepth presentation was of course that they are working with OCLC, and also Ian Mulvany, from Mendeley, had an interesting story. Three PhD’s started Mendeley as a desk-top application making document management and collaboration easy and now they have 1,6 million users, and 160 million user-uploaded documents (not yet unduplicated). What I take home is their notion that the institutional repositories could or should try to get that content linked in (via openauthentication). The discussion ended with a strong plea for usability testing: check out what people actually do, and these tools proof it is worthwhile to focus more on enhancing the workflow, and not per se enriching the experience; and then they are of course do not mean the physical space/experience :).


The afternoon was for me a sort of homecoming, the presentation of the new public Library in Birmingham (due June 2013) by the Library director Brian Gambles together with the architect Francine Houben and an overview of public libraries in the US by Kathleen Imhoff and Erik Boekesteijn presenting the Shanachie Tour. Delft was well covered this afternoon!

Perhaps just a few quotes: • Be inspirational, innovative and inclusive • Do not talk about services, but about the library experience • See the Library as agent for the democratisation of knowledge • The future for libraries is about people, content and context!

I was lucky after all and could visit the building site the next day. Terry Perkins (who visited our Delft Library two years ago) as projectmanager very proudly told us about the building team, that a building is as good as the people working on it, how they involved the neighbourhood, why they needed a risk escalation structure, that an urban farm will be created on the terraces and that a new building also requires a new way of working.

A nice idea is that The Library of Birmingham is being designed with people in mind, and that’s why the Library is looking for (26) great characters to tell the story of this momentous project. They’ve already selected 17 faces of the library.

 

February 29, 2012
Today surely the OCLC talks that stood out were from Robin Murray, VP Global Product Management and Lorcan Dempsey. Robin referred to the report Libraries at webscale, so I guess most of this can be found there. The broad outline of his talk was that the main challenges for libraries can be seen in Relevance and Efficiency. Further detailed challenges and opportunies are in meeting users at the point of need, unified collection management, and collaboration and innovation. New according to Robin is the OCLC strategic response, and this is the WorldShare overall programme, well that we can read in the report.
More interesting I thought was the afternoon talk by Lorcan Dempsey (from the OCLC Strategic Development Team). Just a few nice quotes then in a row: • Library is about the production of knowledge, the output and impact and not per se about the assembly of information • Website without reviews and ratings is for youngsters like watching a black&white TV • Library space is now about engagement, around user experience, not about collections • If libraries want to be seen as expert, their experience should be visible! • People are entry points (University of Michigan lets you find their librarians in your search) • Connect the human-scale to the web-scale • The library has no agenda others than allowing other people to create their own agenda.
David White (@daveowhite) and Alison Cullingford (@speccolibrad) were also enthusiastic in their talks and worth checking out. David gave us the following search tips for his work: JISC, Visitor and Residents. Alison promised that her RLUK report would be published April 2012 (on unique and distinctive collections).

 

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