Steve Coffman has written an articulate and provocative article on recent projects, fads and trends in the library field.
Plinius concurs. I’ve tried to study the fate of Norwegian digital library projects, and have come to similar conclusions. Like Coffman, I have also been engaged in several of these projects. Below I have cut-and-pasted some of his more incisive statements:
- The past 30 years of library history is littered with projects and plans and sometimes just dreams of ways the library might play a more pivotal role in the digital revolution …
- Some of those projects never really got off the ground.
There were lots of collaborative projects to develop “librarian-built” directories of web resources.
- The Librarians Index to the internet is a good example from the public library side, and the Infomine project at the University of California–Riverside is an example of many from the academic side.
- Many of these projects were grant-funded and died off when the money ran out.
- Some still linger — used mostly by librarians, as they have always been — as the rest of the world rushes right by our (sometimes) carefully tended websites and directories on the way to Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Libraries are a force for change, says Ingrid Parent.
She is the new IFLA president (11-13). IFLA itself is changing. This year, social media have been fully recognized. That does not mean fully utilized. The process of blending old and the new communication habits will take several years. But the will is there.
Let me state it this way: as nearly all organizations, IFLA is structured by print and paper. Staff and members think, act and respond in ways that are normal and reasonable in a print world.
This year, IFLA has upgraded it support to those who blog and twitter about the conference.
The new IFLA Express site includes a stream of blog posts (right margin – 56 so far) and a stream of Twitter messages (left margin - innumerable). I thought it could be useful to categorize the blogs by language:
It was easier in the past.
You studied – or wrote – the book. And that was it. Gutenberg ruled OK.
LATINA 2008: Participants from Sudan and China.
Now Gutenberg shares the stage with Gates and Google. The teaching materials I am preparing for the EdLib workshop in Kampala on October 1-3 exist in three parallell versions: one for the web, one for a folder or memory stick – and one for the world of paper.
The LATINA Summer Course attracts participants from many countries.
An overview article on the course itself has now been translated into Lithuanian by one of our 2010 students, Ramune Gedvilaite (blog).
The course itself is an experiment in web-focused or web-centered education – taking place on campus. One of the approaches we are exploring is multilingual teaching and learning.
English is our shared language, but we also try to include other languages in the learning process – for instance by translating central resources, by presenting parallell texts or adding subtitles, by referring to multilingual resources (Wikipedia, Google Translate) and by doing some group work in other languages than English.
Thirty-five years ago I spent two years as a teacher of statistics and social science methods in Moshi, a bustling trading centre on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Now I look forward to return to East Africa. This time the country is Uganda rather than Tanzania.
The library department at Oslo University College has collaborated with library schools in East Africa and Sudan for several years. Last year, the principal music librarian from Makerere University Library – Agnes Namaganda – attended our 2009 LATINA summer course on e-learning and digital libraries. This year, three of her colleagues – Philliam, Irene and Monica - joined the course. They also visited Gjerdrum Public Library, and our home – pictured right.
I have just read 2010 top ten trends in academic libraries.
Together with the 2010 Horizon Report, which deals with education rather than libraries, it provides a good scan of the near future (2-3 years).
This authoritative and handy document covers a lot of ground. Below I indicate some patches that appeal to me.
People in villages need trade more than aid.
Peasants without information about the market, are squeezed by middle-men. Small entrepreneurs need capital in order to get started. Secure and low-cost money transfers allow urban workers to send funds to their rural families without several days of travel. Cheap mobile phones in the South provide answers to these, and many other, questions.
The rising tide of social media has reached the high castle of librarianship.
IFLA’s labyrintine web site has been redesigned – thanks to Bill & Melinda. Not a radical make-over. It still looks rather staid and stately. I miss the comment buttons. Where’s the dialogue?
Today, in the LATINA course, we are looking at the impact and role of Wikipedia.
Immanuel Kant wrote about many areas of philosophy – including esthetics.
The first practical task – lasting 45 minutes – was
- select three terms from your own professional field of interest
- write a new blog post listing these terms
- read and evaluate the corresponding articles in the English version of Wikipedia
- note your results in the blog post