Thursday, 27 October 2011

LibCampUK11 Session 3: New Library Models

I'm not entirely sure of the correct name for this session, I had it in my head that it was New Library Models, but I might have got that wrong.

The idea for this was a bit of a rip it up and start again mentality – if you had no budget/policy/time constraints what changes would you like to see made.

I have to be honest of all the sessions I went to this one turned out to be the one I got the least out of, I just felt it didn’t really deliver on what was pitched.  Instead of focusing on outrageous, there are no limits types of ideas we seemed to get bogged down very quickly in the more practical, realistic side of things. While it is understandable that we would, we do after all live in the real world, and we do have limits on what we could do, I was hoping for more radical ideas to come forth.

At one point we started discussing the way users search for information, and how they will often choose the path of least resistance.  I mentioned a study (I couldn't remember who by) that was done that showed that if users have to choose between the best source of information which takes effort to find, or 'good enough' sources of information which are very easy to find, they'll choose the easy option.  And that in some cases 'good enough' is just that, good enough for their purposes. 

This led to a discussion about falling research standards in academic sectors, students who would rather Google everything than use library resources, and that if these were the academics of the future wasn't it worrying.  I didn't speak up during the session but this attitude made me uncomfortable because at one point it started to stray worryingly close to territory that I'd seen here (also discussed here and link).  The comment I'd made was not to say, they are searching for information in the wrong way, but to try to highlight, if this is how people want to access resources, then shouldn't the library be doing everything it can to replicate that process.  Don't we ideally want to make it as easy to access the best sources of information as it is to access the 'good enough' material, so that people will always want to choose that instead.

We also had an interesting discussion on classification vs. categorisation, and one person gave an example of a very strange system of shelving, which seemed to rely solely on the discretion of the shelver as to where they felt it belonged.  This drew gasps of horror as we all imagined how completely impossible it must have been to actually find anything.

Finally we had a rather random discussion about trying to persuade Frank Skinner to be a library advocate, I can't remember now how it came about, but it seemed to involve us all stalking him on Twitter till he agreed.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who was at this session, and whether their perception of it was very different to mine.  At times I felt rather disconnected from it so I'm not sure I always followed the discussion correctly, I blame the post-lunch slump.

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