The conference really started for me on Sunday, when I took a tour of the Naval Postgraduate School’s library. It was fascinating to see this institution that serves some of the best and the brightest officers in our military (and officers from 40 other nations’ militaries). (You first notice the unusual atmosphere when you have to show three forms of identification just to get on the grounds.)
The keynote speaker was Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the Internet and now “chief evangelist” for Google. He discussed various issues including copyright and attention spans in the age of e-mail and Twitter.
One of his biggest concerns is “bit rot.” Suppose you have a disk with a Word document on it. In order to read that, it’s not enough just to maintain the bits. You also need hardware (a computer and disk drive), software (MS Word), and an operating system (e.g., Windows) that will work together to let you read the disk.
He says we need the kinds of dynamic content that electronic books can provide, and printed books can’t, but still worries about the property rights and lack of standards for e-books.
Digital Library Landscapes, Roy Tennant (OCLC)
Libraries need to change what they’re doing. We need to be where our users are. Massively centralized services may be our salvation, though.
With Worldcat, two clicks to get from a book reference to the catalog entry in a local catalog. Even better would be if the library would mail it to your house.
Academic libraries: Emphasize helping academics publish, rather than making them contribute to an institutional repository. University of California’s eScholarship is doing that, with the IR as a by-product.
Public libraries: Lots of programming, social OPACs.
Special libraries: Add value to your organization. “How? That’s your homework.”
All libraries: Collect and digitize unique material. Don’t waste time on crafting portals, because most people will get to the material via search engines. Syndicate out to Google and Flickr. Create conversations with your constituency.