Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Future-proofing libraries

Today I attended my first ever 'brown bag lunch'.  Once a month, librarians from around Cambridge get together to discuss recently published articles.  This time, it was hosted by Lyn Bailey at Classics, and the articles related to future-proofing libraries.
  • Bell, Stephen J. "Fit libraries are future-proof: A dozen ideas for whipping your library into shape." American Libraries Magazine, 21 September 2010.
  • Miller, R. "Future-proof your library." Library Journal (2008), 133(13), 30-31.
Thoughts beforehand: reading Bell's article, I was reminded of the article by Andy Priestner and Libby Tilley in the July edition of CILIP's Update magazine.  In it, they emphasise the importance of tailoring your service to meet the needs of the library users, arguing that the faculty library network in Cambridge allows for closer relationships with staff and students within the subject and greater independence and flexibility, which means the librarian is better positioned to meet the needs of these library users.

We did wander from the main focus from time to time, but only to interesting and thought-provoking topics:
  • The balance - and sometimes conflict - between professional core values and the expectations of the institutions we're affiliated with
  • Building a ladder of loyalty - developing our borrowers from casual browsers to committed patrons and on to become our advocates (and defence!) in times of cutbacks
  • Ranganathan made an appearance - with some debate on whether in fact every book did have its reader
  • On to collection management, particularly weeding and how the act of removing of a book from the shelf and showing it to academics can in fact cause the book to be borrowed, thus removing it from the 'to be weeded' list...
  • ...and back to the whole expectations debate, the librarian's perceptions how the library should work versus the perceptions of staff, students and other faculty members.
I'll look forward to the next one, at which (I believe) we'll get to hear some more from school librarian Jenny Horler.  Jenny spoke at our recent TeachMeet about how she tries to build a link for her 6th form students so that they're properly prepared for third level.  Her talk then was only two minutes long, so it will be great to have some discussion on it and find out more about how she does it.

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what other people think about the articles - whether or not you made it to the discussion!