Friday, October 30, 2009

National Libraries: The German Library System

Germany has never officially possessed a cohesive National Library until 2006, when the German Government enacted the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Gesetz (the German National Library Law). This executive order formally provided a guide for how a unified library system was to be established and maintained for all things written, spoken, or produced that was uniquely German.

The reason for such late organization of a nationalized German Library system has a lot to do with its own unique history. Germany has long been an association of a common language, but not ideology. At least 300 separate territories and principalities made up the German speaking portions of Europe from the time of the Roman Empire until 1871, when following the victory of the Franco-Prussian War, Wilhelm I was named Kaiser and Otto Von Bismarck his “Iron” Chancellor. This fragmentation of states made it increasingly difficult to over time, establish a stable system for a national library to form. Even after the creation of this so-called 2nd Reich (the first being the ill-conceived Holy Roman Empire in 798; the 3rd being the 12 year reign of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or Nazi’s from 1933-1945), the formation of a true National Library was rebuked by librarians themselves, fearing that a centralized National Library would diminish the significance of the already established and esteemed University libraries already holding the vast majority of material.

In 1991, after the reunification of East and West Germany, talk began again of the formation of a German National Library. Keeping in mind the problems of the past, a model was needed that would not only collect, archive and preserve the vast printed works that had been produced in Germany over the past thousand years, but also retain a connection with the universities by not depleting them of their treasures. The result came in the form of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke (AG SDD), or translated as the “Working Collection of German Press”, based on Professor Bernhard Fabian of Münster’s book entitled Buch, Bibliothek und geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung (Göttingen 1983). In this preeminent book, Professor Fabian parcels out the responsibility of the cultural holdings of the German language to a consortium of libraries housed in the already established German University system.

The duties were split chronologically between five universities and a sixth newly formed national library which would house a collection of the modern era. According to the AGG SD website, the libraries are divided as such:

1450-1600 Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München: Founded in 1558 by Duke Albrecht Vth as the court library of the Wittelsbach family, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek was assigned responsibility for the earliest phase of the program, the period of 1450-1600 as well as printed music until 1800. The library collects literature produced in a particularly pivotal phase; the onset of modern times in Europe.

1601-1700 Herzog August Bibliothek: The Herzog August Bibliothek is one of the oldest libraries in the world to have survived to the present day without sustaining any losses to its collections. Founded in 1572, it was the systematic collecting activity of Duke August the Younger (1579 - 1666) which led to the creation of one of the largest European libraries of its time comprising 135,000 valuable printed works and manuscripts. The seventeenth century saw the emergence of German as a European literary language and the vernacular started being used for areas of literature and science hitherto restricted to Latin. In the first half of the seventeenth century Germany began to successfully adapt the models provided by the European Renaissance, in the second half of the century a recognizably German Baroque culture developed.

1701–1800 Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen: After its founding in 1734, the State and University Library in Göttingen quickly developed into an important research library of the Enlightenment era. Through targeted funding, well-established international relationships and considerable expertise, it succeeded from the beginning in becoming a model instrument of research. In some respects, the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, was the period in which the roots for the development of our modern world were laid. In the period between 1700 and 1800 the belief gained acceptance that the world functions according to rationally perceptible laws and that man as a rational being can be educated to recognize and to shape his own world.

1801-1870 Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg Frankfurt am Main: In the 19th century there was an immense increase in the production of books. Mass production influenced the procedure for paper-making; since then the problem of deterioration of books through acidity has developed.

1871-1912 Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin- Preußischer Kulturbesitz: The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is in charge of the years 1871 to 1912 (for maps: 1801-1912; for musical scores: 1801-1945). Owing to the enormous book production of that time, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has to shoulder an enormous task - despite an apparently short period of coverage of less than half a century.

1913-present Die Deutsche Bibliothek: Fused from the libraries in Leibnitz, Frankfurt am main, and the Muzikarchiv Berlin, its task is to collect, permanently archive, comprehensively document and record bibliography without gap, all German and German language publications from 1913 on, including printed music after 1800, Germanica and translations of works in the German language published abroad as well as works by German emigrants that were edited between 1933 and 1945 and to make them available to the public.

Consider. According to the AG SDD website, the German National Library system “has shown that the idea of a decentralized, chronologically subdivided collection has worked very well. The coordinated acquisitions policies combine with modern information and communications technology to further the growth of a virtual national library.”

How would the German system work in the United States? Although we have the Library of Congress, it is not actually a National Library of “American” culture. Is there enough cultural hegemony in our country for a collection of all things American, or is this a form of cultural jingoism? The German system includes a music library. Should we incorporate music into a National Library of America and what kind of music? What other cultural media could be included?

References.

Association of College and Resource Libraries (2009). Book Review, College and Research Libraries
March 1997, Vol. 58, No. 2. by Winfried Goedert, Fachhochschule Koeln, Koeln, Germany. Retrieved on October 24th, 2009 from
http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crljournal/1997/mar/olsonbookreview.cfm

J BÖTTE GERD-. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany

A virtual National Library for Germany –the SAMMLUNG DEUTSCHER DRUCKE [Collection of German Printed Works]. Retrieved on October 23rd, 2009 from

http://ifla.queenslibrary.org/IV/ifla69/papers/140e_trans-Boette.pdf

Bun­des­mi­nis­te­ri­um der Jus­tiz (2009). Gesetz über die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved on October 25th, 2009 from
http://bundesrecht.juris.de/dnbg/index.html

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek(2009). The German National Library in brief. Retrieved on October 23rd, 2009 from
http://www.d-nb.de/eng/wir/ueber_dnb/dnb_im_ueberblick.htm

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke (AG SDD) (2009). Retrieved on October 22nd, 2009 from
http://www.ag-sdd.de/eng/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Digital Archiving in National Libraries

According to Margaret Phillips, “A primary role of national libraries is to document the published output of their respective countries” (2005). This includes collecting books, pamphlets, maps, music, and newspapers. This is a large feat, especially for a large country such as Australia. The move to digital collections affects libraries all over the country, but it poses an important question to national libraries. What should national libraries collect and preserve? Should national libraries attempt to catalog all online content that is published by people of the country? According to Phillips, there are two approaches to collecting and preserving online content in national libraries (2005). The first is the whole domain or comprehensive approach, and the second is the selective approach. Many libraries are taking different approaches within the selective approach for building their archives. For example, the National Libraries of Denmark and Canada selectively archive static Web resources as well as print resources. Phillips defines static Web resources as those "that are like print publications and that do not change or contain interactive or dynamic elements" (2005). Australia's National Library selectively archives static Web resources as well as dynamic resources. Whole domain harvesting is an approach used by National Libraries of Sweden, Finland, and Norway (Phillips, 2005). Whole domain harvesting involves "using harvesting robots and a minimum of human intervention for identifying resources" (Phillips, 2005). The Bibliothèque nationale de France is involved with a project that combines selective archiving and whole domain harvesting (Phillips, 2005). Additionally, a thematic approach to archiving takes an in-depth look at a certain subject, such as September 11, 2001 (Phillips, 2005). National Libraries may also choose to archive material based on collaborative agreements with commercial publishers (Phillips, 2005).

According to Phillips, there are six main advantages to these selective approaches to archiving (2005):

* Each item in the archive is quality assessed and functional
* A gathering schedule can be individually tailored for each selected title, taking into account its publication schedule or the frequency with which the Web site changes
* Each item in the archive can be fully catalogued and therefore can become part of the national bibliography.
* Each item in the archive can be made accessible via the Web to readers immediately because permission to do so can be negotiated with publishers.
* The "significant properties" of individual resources and classes of resources within the archive can be analyzed and determined.
* Sites that are inaccessible to harvesting robots can be identified and archived using other methods

Disadvantages of the selective approach to archiving include the subjectivity of selection, high cost, and loss of contextual meaning (Phillips, 2005).

Whole domain harvesting is a good idea in theory but in reality, it is still far from ideal. Whole domain harvests are run periodically because they demand so much computer space and time, so any material that comes into being in the interim will be missed (Phillips, 2005). Quality control is almost impossible with such a huge wealth of information being gathered. Many commercial Web sites which contain important digital heritage may employ passwords, which will prevent a robot from gathering information from that site (Phillips, 2005).

The National Library of Australia has implemented PANDORA, Australia's Web archive. The need for archiving online publications became apparent, so in 1996, steps were made to begin archiving this information (Phillips, 2005). The criteria for selection was agreed upon, and collection began. After seven years of collection, the selection guidelines were reviewed to see if they were flexible enough or if they needed to be changed (Phillips, 2005). The assessment indicated that there were resources not being collected that contained important information. The assessment also identified gaps in the collection (Phillips, 2005). Once this information was gathered, the selection guidelines changed to focus more on six specific categories, including government publications, publications of educational institutions, e-journals, and conference proceedings (Phillips, 2005). Several resources that had not been included in the past were still excluded from archiving, including datasets, online daily newspapers, news sites, bulletin boards, and blogs (Phillips, 2005).

PANDORA is a good example of selective archiving. The National Library of Australia has realized that it would be impossible to archive every piece of information pertaining to Australia, so they implemented clear guidelines for selection and then evaluated them after several years. This has allowed the National Library of Australia to create a comprehensive yet edited collection for the good of the country.

What do you think is the best approach to digital archiving?
Do you think that PANDORA should archive sources not currently archived (such as online daily newspapers, datasets, and blogs)? Why or why not?


References
Phillips, M E (Summer 2005). What should we preserve? The question for heritage libraries in a digital world. Library Trends. , 54, 1. p.57(15). Retrieved October 21, 2009, from Academic OneFile via Gale:
http://find.galegroup.com/gtx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=AONE&docId=A140239960&source=gale&userGroupName=lom_waynesu&version=1.0

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

National Libraries: The National Library of Korea

A national library is defined as “a library designated by a government as such, which usually means that it is the copyright depository and the bibliographic control center of a country.” But to the countries that house them national libraries represent so much more.

The National Library of [South] Korea (NLK) was founded in Seoul in 1945 and is now affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. In 1963 the Library Act was enacted and through it the Legal Deposit developed. A portion of the Act indicates "domestic publishers and publishing organizations of other publications shall submit two copies of their publications or periodicals within 30 days of their publishing date to NLK." Materials published before the implementation of the Legal Deposit System are acquired via a donation campaign named Haetsal-gadeukhan-dalakbang (literally meaning "an attic filled with sunshine"). (Lee, 2006) The current Legal Deposit rate is 95% according to the sales catalog of the largest bookstore. (Lee, 2006)

The role of the NLK is “to build a collection of cultural and intellectual heritage of Korea, and preserve the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the nation for future generations.” (Yoon, Chang, & Kim, 2006) This can be readily seen through the accumulation of Korean publications through the Legal Deposit. The NLK also houses a collection of rare books, many deemed national treasures, published from 1355 A.D. through 1886 A.D.

Additionally the mission extends to collecting, organizing, preserving and disseminating library materials and information. But what does this mean and how is this reflected in National Library of Korea?

In a country that, according to Lee, in 2005 possessed an advancement rate to higher education of 82.1%, Korea is ahead of many advanced countries in educational achievements. (2006) The NLK is seeking to position itself as a knowledge and information center adapted to today’s knowledgeable Korean society.

The National library seeks to lead its country’s library community through bibliographic control thus allowing for better, easier and speedier service to patrons. The NLK activities which encompass bibliographic control include the previously mentioned Legal Deposit, developing and disseminating national standards for national bibliography, managing the union catalog KOLIS-NET (Korean Library Information System-Network) and establishing the national digital library. (Lee, 2006)

According to Forsberg, in 2005 Korea was the most wired country in the world with 76% of households possessing broadband internet (comparatively the United States only ranked 13th). (2005) The National Digital Library digitizes and posts nearly all the materials the NLK receives. Unfortunately to that end the NLK places little to no limits on what can be reproduced electronically, whether these follow a publisher’s guidelines or not. However access to the materials is then limited to onsite and affiliated libraries thus largely defeating the purpose of online access to materials. (Stork, 2008)

The National Korean library is evolving to meet the demands of its educated and highly connected user. Perhaps one item of note about the NLK is that although its collection is made up of 12% foreign materials it is evident that the NLK’s main interest is not in the collection of foreign materials and has a sharper focus on the collection of domestic materials.

The National Library of Korea’s goal to become a cultural and intellectual repository of Korea’s culture has been and continues to be met. The NLK faces the challenges of the information and digital age head on and attempts to, and often succeeds, at being a progressive force for Korea.

Several ways were mentioned in which the NLK is meeting its mission and also adapting to a new era of technical savvy users. How are other national library’s representing their countries needs and attempting to stay relevant?


References


Forsberg, B. (2005). The future in South Korea: Tech firms try out the latest in world's most wired society. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/03/13/BROADBAND.TMP

Lee, J. (April/June 2006). Bibliographic Control in Korea: focused on the National Library of Korea. International Cataloguing and Bibliographic Control, 35(2), 27-32.

Stork, J. W. (July 2008, October 28, 2009). Study Abroad in Seoul: an overview of South Korean libraries. http://www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/viewArticle/6/169

Yoon, H.-Y., Chang, D.-H., & Kim, Y.-s. (2006). Libraries in Korea: a general overview. IFLA Journal, 32(2), 93-103.

National Libraries

Iraq National Library and Archive

Imagine that you are the director of a national library, dream job, right? Or how about just working on the staff of that same national library? Now, shift your imagination half way across to the world to Iraq and picture the job of being a national library director or employee, where in light of recent occurrences and following years of intellectual oppression, you will face insurmountable challenges. Most libraries in the United States right now are facing budget shortfalls from Omaha to Pennsylvania, but all that dims in comparison to bombs falling near your library or a majority of your archives either being destroyed by fire or confiscated by a occupying power or even stolen and looted by your own countrymen. Those that are left are in disarray, damaged and dirty. Precious, ancient documents forever gone, reduced to ashes and soot. All of this is a reality for the Iraq National Library and Archives and its director, Saad Eskander.

Iraq’s National Library and Archives have faced challenges for nearly three decades now, even before the tenure of the current director, Saad Eskander who returned from exile in late 2003 to take over as director general of the library. (Gravois, 2008) Beginning in the early 1980s when the Baath regime came to power in the country; that Ba’ath regime was anti-modern, opposed to multiculturalism, multi-ethnicity and opposing political view points. (Eskander, 2004) Directors throughout the time that the Ba’ath party was ruling Iraq were party members. Recently, secret police agents were planted among the staff of the NLA to monitor the reading habits of library users. (Eskander, 2004) The minister of culture nicknamed the library “the cemetery of books.” (Gravois, 2008) This threatening presence led to a decrease in the number of library users. Also during this time period, the library was underfunded and lacked the resources to even meet the basic needs of a public library, let alone a national one; equipment, facilities and furniture were all of poor quality. (Eskander, 2004) In 1987, due to reduced spending in the areas of culture by the Ba’ath regime, the National Archive was merged with the National Library to form the National Library and Archives or NLA. (Eskander, 2004)

According to its director, Saad Eskander in speech recorded in Information Today but given at Internet Librarian International 2004 conference, the NLA is about 30 years behind other national libraries in terms of its collection development with much of its collection coming from its legal deposit department and donations by foreign libraries. The Ba’athist regime demanded and hoarded information but did not share it. (Eskander, 2004) Even still, these collections were of poor quality that did not meet the needs of the libraries readers; modern equipment was also scarce and was limited to some microfilm readers and a few computers. Much of this equipment was acquired through the oil for food program during the time period of international sanctions. (Eskander, 2004) Another challenge faced by the NLA was when the Ministry of Culture removed the air conditioning and ventilation system for much of the NLA building, including areas of book repositories and archival materials. (Eskander, 2004) Anyone who has seen a document stored in an attic of a building understands what damage unstable and extreme temperatures can do to a book or document; also think of the human consequences of having to work in an indoor environment where temperatures can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 28 degrees F in the winter. Also during this time period, the NLA was cut off from the international library community and lost their membership in many international library organizations due to the refusal of the Ba’ath regime to pay membership dues. (Eskander, 2004) The average age of the librarians and archivists were high and pay was extremely low, about $3 a month; corruption was also rampant. (Eskander, 2004)

In 2003, during the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, U.S. military vehicles entered the library and tore down the statue of Saddam outside of the library. Soon after the soldiers departed, a fire broke out in parts of the building, while the fire raged; looters entered the building, grabbing anything of value. Two days later, the same scene occurred again. Following the two fires and the looting, about 60 percent of the archival collections were lost. (Eskander, 2004) Computers, furniture, microfilm readers and other office equipment was also lost in the looting and fires. The library did retain most of its book stacks but even those were in disarray, books, journals and cards from the card catalog were scattered on the floor, a thick layer of soot and dust covered shelves, books and journals. (Eskander, 2004) Finally, during the 2003 invasion, the U.S seized approximately 100 million pages of Iraqi state documents from the time of Saddam’s rule as part of the search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Following a digitization project in the U.S., those records remain on United States soil and will remain so for at least another 5 years. (Gravois, 2008)

Rebuilding: picking up the pieces of nearly three decades of an oppressive regime and six years of civil war and foreign occupation and the next phase for the Iraq National Library and Archives. In late 2006, the library was rebuilding but had to close temporarily due to ongoing violence. According to its director, the decision was reached after several staff members were killed and the building had been increasingly under fire. (American Libraries, 2007) The library is also located in the most dangerous area of the city. (Kniffel, 2007) Today, people are beginning to return to the library, on a good day up to 90 people will show up. The director and his staff of 400 are rebuilding the library with a vision to be better than they have been before the 2003 invasion. (Kniffel, 2007) The library has already become a center for intellectual activity and technology with a state of the art computer lab. (Kniffel, 2007) Staff members are young and in a quote to National Public Radio, Eskander stated why this is beneficial to the library, “because I do believe that technology needs young brains, new brains.” (Kniffel, 2007) Staff members are being trained in other countries in cataloging, archiving and transferring documents to microfilm. (Kniffel, 2007) Support is also being lent by other country’s national library’s, such as the British Library, which provided microfilm copies of rare books from the administration of Iraq from 1914 to 1921. (Kniffel, 2007)

Finally, the question remains, who owns the documents seized during the 2003 invasion? In the United States, political party’s documents are not considered public records, yet in other instances of a single party state’s fall, that party’s records are treated as public record. (Gravois, 2008) Are these 100 million pages of Ba’ath party documents from Saddam’s regime too dangerous to go back to Iraq? Is it too physically dangerous due to continuing violence and instability as well as mentally and emotionally due to otherwise concealed information they contain regarding the regime’s secrets and records of what may have happened to dissidents? Is the United States behaving the same way that the regime they came to overthrow did, keeping information from the people that it affects and needs it the most? Is the United States acting in a benevolent manner by keeping the painful secrets of Iraq’s past just that, a secret? Should the international community, especially the library community, intervene by demanding the return of the confiscated documents? What responsibility does the U.S. have to Iraq’s National Library to help it rebuild and become a cultural and technological hub of the nation?

References

Eskander, S. (2004). The Tale of iraq's 'cemetery of books'. Information Today, 21(11)

Gravois, J. (2008). A Tug of war for iraq's memory. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 54(22)

(2007). Iraq national library closes briefly. American Libraries, 38(1)

Kniffel, Leonard. (2007). National library copes as Iraq war presses on. American Libraries, 38(5), Retrieved from http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/hww/jumpstart.jhtml?recid=0bc05f7a67b1790e717d20b1b9029c22e19e42750a09649dd14ea6a0d9c8892fc032d5fba3f6a2ae&fmt=H Kniffel, L. National Library Copes As Iraq War Presses on. American Libraries v. 38 no. 5 (May 2007) p. 17

Monday, October 19, 2009

Types of Libraries: Media Centers

“Studies demonstrate consistently that well-equipped, quality school library media centers that have professional staff involved in instruction contribute to the academic success of their students.” (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) “MEAP reading performance for Michigan schools with and without librarians indicates that the presence of a qualified school librarian can make a tremendous difference in the reading achievement of a school’s students.” (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) This information was gathered by the State of Michigan to further educate the school boards and political figureheads on how important our media centers truly are. The statistics show that elementary grade school that have access to a media centers are 35% more proficient in the reading portion of the MEAP test and 8% more proficient on a high school level. (Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell) It is apparent how important these services are in aiding children to get a better education and have a better understanding of what their options are in terms of research and literature.

Many media centers are being pushed to the wayside due to budget concerns and financial instabilities, which only takes away a very important part of their curriculum. Teachers sometimes rely on the library as a way to give a more hands on experience in getting information for projects and in most of these cases a media specialist is the one that takes over a part of the teaching role in these circumstances. Many media specialists are able to offer a more in depth tutorial on how to use equipment and other technologies because they pursue up to date training on many of these items, and are more qualified to teach students in these areas than some of the school faculty.

“Specially trained and knowledgeable in the use of information technology, library media specialists have become one of the most important instructional partners, working with teachers and administrators to change what is possible in the classroom.” (Weil) Media centers work hand in hand with their schools to offer items that are needed for advanced reader lists, computer access for reports, and equipment like video cameras and sound equipment so that students can add an audio-visual approach to their studies. Media centers are also vital in supplying reader’s advisory information for students and staff, and developing collections that will be important for the student’s literary growth.

The educational requirements for the media center library are the most different than any other type. Although there are an increasing number of graduate level students that are pursuing this area of librarianship, it has been primarily run by those with an undergraduate level of education or less. Many of the schools simply cannot afford to pay for the services of a librarian with an MLIS in the same terms as a public library or an academic library can. Also this position may find that it is a one-person job depending on the schools budget which can mean a great deal of responsibility in terms of teaching, collection development, processing items for circulation, etc. There are some communities that may have a larger media center staff, but these would have to be more affluent and/or well populated areas.

A great deal of new ideas are revolving around media center libraries as they can be exactly where the new technology and information is being processed at a faster speed due to the age level that they usually work with. Many have suggested having gaming seminars and using education computer software that may have historical references of social networking as ways of communicating with students better. “Most schools require that students leave cell phones, iPods, and video cameras at home because administrators and teachers find that type of electronic equipment disruptive. However, instead of fighting kids in regard to the use of digital devices, we should be encouraging their use in education. We need to find out how we can take advantage of these tools instead of discouraging their use.” (Weil)

As media centers are proving to be the forefront for technology and aiding kids to be better students, it is disappointing to see that many of these wonderful resources are being lost because they are not deemed important enough to keep around. The reason for this could be that media centers are not always held in the same esteem as other types of libraries, but it is important to remember that they are providing information just as efficiently as any other type and they are key influences on K-12 students, their choices and their futures.

Rodney, M. J., Lance, K. C., & Hamilton-Pennell, C. (n.d.). The Impact of Michigan School Librarians on Academic Achievement: Kids Who Have Libraries Succeed. Retrieved 10 12, 2009, from State of Michigan: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/hal_lm_schllibstudy03_76626_7.pdf

Weil, E. (n.d.). Meet Your New School Library Media Specialist. Retrieved 10 10, 2009, from Scholastic: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3748779

The Academic Library

We are all familiar with academic libraries and have used them extensively. A post about what we already know would not be very useful. So I will be writing about the future of academic libraries.

The modern academic library is undergoing a seismic shift. While the mission may still be to "provide access to trustworthy, authoritative knowledge" (Campbell, 2006) the way it goes about it has changed and will continue to change in the future. This post will summarize Campell's article about the future of the academic library.

The Future of the Academic Library

We conduct scores of daily searches, for material both academic and trivial. But one thing is clear; we no longer look to the academic library as our primary source of inquiry. The ease and ubiquity of the Web make it our first choice. So what is the role of academic libraries in this new digital age?

While there are oceans of data online, reliability is always an issue. Some have suggested that "the problem of the untrustworthy quality of Web-based information might preserve the academic library's role as the most important, even if secondary, source of information because in the context of higher education, the integrity of knowledge matters" (18).

Academic libraries led the way in making their content digital, which only accelerated with the Web. While many full-text journals are available through academic library databases, few books are fully searchable and available due to publisher reluctance to loosen copyright restrictions. Google's massive scanning project of four academic libraries and one public library may be the impetus that moves books into the 21st century (18).

Once all authoritative content is online, Campbell argues that the academic library will "become overwhelmingly a virtual destination" (19). Meanwhile, the academic library is going through a transition period. During this time several activities may hint at the future for academic libraries. They are: "providing quality learning spaces, creating metadata, offering virtual reference services, teaching information literacy, choosing resources and managing resource licenses, collecting and digitizing archival materials and maintaining digital repositories" (20).

Many students see the library as a study space. As more classes are online, there might be a demand for "high-quality, library-like space for student interaction, peer learning, collaboration and similar functions" (20).

Creating metadata replaces cataloguing. There is a need for sorting out the jumble that is the Web. Academic libraries might be involved in the "development of portals, tools, strategies customized for precision research on the vast Web" (22).

As more materials have been accessible online, "reference services have become more virtual" with telephone, e-mail and online chat (22).

With the broadening media landscape there comes a demand for educating researchers how to "negotiate a multi-format environment" (24).

Librarians have always chosen resources, but now they must also manage resource licenses, such as subscriptions to online journals that come in collections of titles. Campbell predicts this "will gradually eliminate much of what remains of the collection-development process and will shift the librarian's role much more toward managing licenses" (26).

The ease of online sharing of digitized materials suggests that "collecting and digitizing archival materials may offer a significant opportunity" for academic libraries in the future (26).

Maintaining digital repositories can be defined as "maintaining collections of data actually stored and managed by a library and does not include data stored and managed by other agencies for which a library serves as a gateway or portal" (26). Many of these are invisible to the major search engines and are often called part of the "Invisible Web" or "Deep Web" (26). Campbell suggests that such an area is so technically sophisticated that it might be a growth area for future academic libraries.

In summary, we can't imagine a world without academic libraries but the technological advances make it difficult to predict what the academic library will look like even ten years from now. Campbell hopes "the academy may be able to maintain much of the ineffable, inspirational value associated with academic libraries while retaining their practical value through altogether transformed activities and functions built upon a new mission designed for a more digital world" (30).

Reference

Campbell, J. D. (2006). Changing a Cultural Icon: The academic library as a virtual destination. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(1), 16-31.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

LIS 6010 Blog: Types of Libraries

Types of Libraries: Special
MSN Encarta defines library as ‘collection of books and other informational materials made available to people for reading, study, or reference. The word library comes from liber, the Latin word for “book.” However, library collections have almost always contained a variety of materials. Contemporary libraries maintain collections that include not only printed materials such as manuscripts, books, newspapers, and magazines, but also art reproductions, films, sound and video recordings, maps, photographs, microfiches, CD-ROMs, computer software, online databases, and other media. In addition to maintaining collections within library buildings, modern libraries often feature telecommunications links that provide users with access to information at remote sites.’ (Microsoft Encarta, 2009)
Special libraries include almost any other form of librarianship, including those who serve in medical libraries, corporations, news agencies, or other special collections. The collection at held at these libraries will be specific to the industries that house that collection. The work may include solo work, such as research; corporate financing; developing a special collection for a museums, and extensive self-promotion to potential patrons.
It was during the Industrial Revolution libraries began to change and branch outside the educational boundaries, to meet industrial needs. Various organizations, industries and governmental agencies started their own private library collections. The collections the various groups started were to help them stay competitive in the fields of research and development. The collections were deemed necessary and were funded by various sources to keep them top in their field. In 1910 Nigeria established three special libraries to serve research officers at three different research companies and they were the first country to set up such libraries for research and development. By the 1990’s South Africa had over 600 special libraries to help in various fields of law, banking, agriculture, medicine, politics, and social sciences. (Microsoft Encarta, 2009) During the second half of the 20th century many places organizations and governments started their own libraries to keep a collection that would not be available in other libraries. These collections are often supported by the company, donations from outside agencies.
"Library (institution)," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/SCA/libraries.html
http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/academic.asp
http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Welcome_to_Citizendium

Types of Libraries: Public

Are public libraries necessary with the continued proliferation of internet sources? How can librarians fund public libraries and services with continued government budgetary constraints? These are just some of the questions being asked about public libraries, and they do not come with cookie cutter answers. “Of all library types, public libraries serve the information needs of the widest variety of population groups, including children, students, professionals, the elderly, and all groups in-between” (Haycock, p. 43). Most Americans have made use of their local public library at least once in their lives, and for the vast majority, several other times, too.

Services range from story time hours for children, summer reading programs for children and teens, readers’ advisory lists, book clubs, research assistance, computer classes, and more. With respect to public access technologies provided, public libraries often have computers, wireless access, online databases, downloadable audio and video, online reference help, micro reading machines, etc. Having this many technologies available to patrons comes at a large monetary cost. The replacement cycle of technology is such that librarians are always planning for the next upgrade, even after the most recent one has been completed (Bertot, 2009). “These institutions are normally supported by local, state, or federal monies and have ‘open door’ policies with very few user restrictions” (Haycock p. 43-44). Nearly all services are provided to the public for free or at a minimal cost.

“In June 2008, the ALA Office for Library Advocacy (OLA) reported that, despite some positive trends, much of the information it had gathered on library funding continued to reflect cuts affecting operating hours, staffing, collection and materials acquisition, programming, services, and facility expansion/enhancement” (2009statehome). At the same time these budget cuts are taking place, more people than ever are using their public libraries. It appears in times of economic trouble, people recognize the inherent need for a public library in their community, to provide vital services to all, regardless of socio-economic status. Unfortunately, while the need is there, the money is not. When a local or state government has to decide between cutting library funding or police/fire and rescue, they choose the former.

As a result of the budgetary constraints, more and more public libraries are hiring fewer librarians and are instead shifting the workload to paraprofessionals, who come at a cheaper cost. So where do librarians fit in the future of public libraries? Carol Sheffer, a public library director attempted to provide an answer. When discussing where librarians fit with the dawn of the information age, she described how librarians can vet sources of information, recognize trusted websites, help users obtain the most accurate and timely data, and understand not every answer appears on the first screen of results from an Internet search. Furthermore, librarians determine what information is really needed as opposed to answering the first question posed by the user, use their knowledge and skills to recommend information and suggest pleasure reading, offer moral support and a friendly ear, know when to let more independent users go their own way and play a back-up role, and serve as neutral advisors (Sheffer, 2009).

If libraries have reduced funding, public libraries need to think inside and outside the box for ways to raise their own funds. Charging increased fines is one option or charging a minimal fee (around a dollar) to check out DVDs and other technologies could also generate some income. I have heard about some libraries starting to offer passport services during certain hours as a way to increase their funds. No, these options may not fit nicely with the ideals librarians hold themselves to. However, what good are high ideals of free information for all if the libraries can only afford to have hours two days a week, or even worse, cease to exist? Compromises need to be found between keeping true to what public libraries are for and recognizing they need to raise money to continue to exist and serve the community. There are no easy answers, but inaction is not the solution.


Bibliography

2009statehome, American Library Association, April 08, 2009.
http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/presskits/2009stateofamericaslibraries/2009statehome.cfm (Accessed October 18, 2009) Document ID: 537983

Bortat, J. (2009). Public access technologies in public libraries: effects and implications. Information Technology and Libraries, 28(2), 81-92.

Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Sheffer, C. (2009). The future of public libraries. Public Libraries, 48(3), 4-5.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Intellectual Freedom and a Literary Rating System

The International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions (IFLA) “declares that human beings have a fundamental right to access to expressions of knowledge, creative thought and intellectual activity, and to express their views publicly.”

As a reader and user of different media forms, I could not agree more with the statement above. People, regardless of race, gender, social-standing or religion, should be able to access and utilize these tools as well. But is there ever a time when it is appropriate to limit the access to said materials? Should the materials available to a 15 year-old be the same as those available to a 5 year-old? Are materials deemed appropriate for adult patrons the same as those in which a 6th grader can view? As a future parent and a sibling of young children, I do feel that there may be the need to limit minors’ contact with mature materials.

Every American is familiar with movie ratings. The ratings range from G, PG, PG-13, NC-17, and R (contrary to popular belief, there is not an X rating). The rating systems for movies was developed and is maintained by the Motion Picture Association of America, Also, anyone who has ever picked up a book aimed at younger readers should know that most books have a targeted reading level. However, this reading level is usually based on the technical difficulty of a book, such as the vocabulary and complexity of grammar used by the writer, not the subject matter of the material.

How will a parent to know which materials are acceptable for their children? Some children in elementary school have the ability to read at a high school level, but that does not necessarily imply that the subject matter is suitable for that reader. Just because a 12-year old can read Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” (a novel containing explicit language, graphic images of sex and violence, as well as a pro-anarchy plot), doesn’t mean that they should read it. It can be very difficult to navigate children’s and young adult books when there is no clear definition of a book’s material level.

Some communities will ban a book or an author’s complete works if the material is deemed inappropriate. But could a rating system, which would make a book’s subject matter explicitly evident, and eliminate the need for banning books? Some parents claim that they didn’t realize their kids were reading. Had the book been labeled as “PG-13”, it would have been easy know, at a glance, if material is age appropriate. If books were rated the way movies are, conservative readers would have no excuse to ban literature and librarians would know whether to verify a patron’s age before lending mature materials.

In short, a rating system for literature and other materials could help eliminate the desire for over-zealouz book-banning, inappropraite materials falling into the wrong hands, as well as assisting parents in selecting appropriate books for their budding readers. As librarians, the last thing we want to do is turn people away from libraries, and a helpful (and accurate) rating sustem for books could really help develop committed and comfortable library patrons.


(2004, September 18). IFLA Statement of Libraries and Intellectual Freedom. Retrieved from http://archive.ifla.org/faife/policy/iflastat/iflastat.htm

(2005). Motion Picture Association of America. Retrieved from http://www.mpaa.org/