June 19, 2006

LISA V: N. Cline, Navigating Dark Matter

Nancy Cline of Harvard College gave the opening invited talk at LISA V; these are my notes, not guaranteed to be a transcript of her talk!

Navigating Dark Matter: Libraries Look to the Future

Large-scale, paradigm-shifting change in libraries. Who are our patrons now? Everyone – everyone’s crossing “traditional boundaries” that are becoming more amorphous now. So how do we stay up with all the changes? Physical trips to the library may have declined, the librarians are working harder than ever...

Critical issues: collecting, availability, and preservation.

Collections have radically changed from the traditional mode; methodologies vary as to what is collected, how it’s made available, and how long it remains. Research these days are producing volumes and volumes of data that needs to live long past the bracket of the research grant; but investing in infrastructure lags investment in research. How do we provide access to all this data, and to people perhaps outside the original intended audience? What kinds of resources should be converted to digital resources? Who decides? Can we work together to define print repositories?

Access. There are lots of limits in different parts of the world, not just to the network but also incomplete cataloging, poor keynote identification, or unlined resources. Key tools for access will vary from one discipline to another but the overall purpose and structure of basic reference resources require both an understanding of the field to be served as well as the data to be presented. How and where do users interact with the information?

Intellectual property rights typically layered and very complex, and vary from country to country. We need to stay on top of those rights.

Preservation. It’s important! How do we ensure that data will be accessible over the long term? Who should worry about digital heritage issues? Who’s responsible for the indexing schemes that should endure while the digital item itself migrates? How will we know if corruption has occurred?

It’s important that we not only find ways to survive in the rapid changes, but that we find ways to thrive on the changes that are happening. Where are libraries going? It’s hard to predict where the libraries are going, but librarians are going forward! We are vital partners in the research enterprise and bring skills to the team that others do not have. Our job is to make sure today’s research is usable by future generations and beyond.

I quite liked her talk, and what she had to say. Good opening to the conference!


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