This week we looked at the various modes our users find information and we listened to discussions regarding the technical literacy of staff in an effort to better serve patrons. As more and more libraries move away from print sources and become the technological hub of information and skills how do we prepare staff for these moves? The video discussion was pretty intense as the maker of a core competencies test fires staff who cannot reach 80% of the core competencies. Training and professional development are key in getting every staff person on the same page in the library. I know many staff at my university who would be unable to answer some of the core competencies and myself I feel like the basics of technology and trouble shooting I understand, but some of the workflows and technologies for systems and digital collections I am not competent in. It is something that I am working on and would like to discover how our electronic subscriptions and access works on the back end of development. One faculty member suggested we hold an open house for each department and talk about what our goals are and what we do. I love this idea, getting a large organization together and fully understanding the general workflow of each department is important to understand how one fits into the greater strategic goals. Our main library is 300,000 square feet and houses 200+ staff members, I would like to better understand how each workflow effects one another.
Electronic sources have taken over our resources and we moved all of our print periodicals into LASR (on site, robotic storage) which means these resources can be accessed easily, but not browsed.
The majority of the physical periodicals are available online and students prefer to browse them online so it makes sense financially to stop ordering the physical and electronic copy of a periodical. This has changed the space in the library quite dramatically as we now have one floor out of five that is now open space for soon to be collaborate space and technology charging stations where ranges of thousands of bound periodicals once were. The textbook discusses the pros and cons of discontinuing physical periodical collections, in case a database stops carrying a collection or title you may get a “gap” in the collection. I have seen this happen with some of our business titles. All of a sudden we no longer have full text access and the liaison librarian is left scrambling for access through other means for patrons’ assignments and research.
The way we search for information will continue to evolve and dramatically change the landscape of information retrieval. In his slippery slope article Coffman discusses what it would be like to go completely digital. If libraries carried no books, no circulation and staff and hey! no building either. The hybrid style library is a good choice for academic libraries as faculty and students still like reading academic and textbooks on paper. Electronic textbooks are hard to browse and the interface has not yet caught up to the needs of users. I could easily see public libraries going mostly digital, but I do not see a no building library in our future. Many public libraries serve as the main point of technology and contact for communities with limited access to new technologies and Internet. In my city the cheapest Internet you can find is $50 a month. That is a huge chunk of change for many families. Serving as an access point for laptops, computers, cameras, e-readers, tablets and other costly technology will keep libraries relevant well into the future. Just because the mode of communication of information is changing doesn’t mean we cannot keep up with the needs of our community of users.
Providing professional development and basic technology training to all staff will help keep libraries relevant and moving towards an evolved set of services that meet the needs of users and provide a place for advanced technology to help bridge the gap many communities are facing. Trained staff who offer assistance and instruction of common technology to the public is a great service that can be used to market other library services and collections.
Coffman, S. (2013). So now what? The future of libraries. Online Searcher, 37(1), 41-57.