In the second of her reports from Internet Librarian International, Jane Macoustra discusses people, service providers and professional relationships, mash-ups and collaborative data sharing.
I’m reflecting on an important topic for every single person in our industry: Relationships.
We all strive to build good relationships with our management and colleagues, and professional bodies such as SLA Europe, not forgetting those whom we purchase our services from and vice versa. As my Info Pro hat ages I reflect upon the relationships I have built over the years, and what strikes me is the strength and longevity of the relationships and the trust that builds and continues long after the requirement for it to continue is gone, because we are no longer purchasing their services. These unique business relationships evolve into professional friendships.
I walked into the hotel for the registration at 8.45am on Thursday, and the pleasant man behind the desk who greeted me said “we have met before – at least once – I recognise your face”. I explained to him that ILI 2010 was actually my 6th attendance, but previously I attended in various capacities working with either the pre-conference Master classes or speaking or both. He thought we’d met at Online. Oh well, I go there too!
When you turn up at a conference and a long term contact makes a very enthusiastic beeline for you to shake your hand and say hello, that’s a long term ongoing professional relationship. I too was looking for a certain SLA colleague to say hello to, and I kept seeing this person across the room, but before I got there I found they had vanished. We finally met up though, much to our delight, and plan another meeting at Online in December. It was great to see so many people that I knew from my personal professional world.
What a lovely bunch the service providers were. They were all friendly without being pushy, and they offered the visitors a friendly delve into their products. What they had on offer was explained so that the potential client could gain maximum insight into the vendor products. It is especially important to take the time when your delegate has travelled from overseas as there could be a slight miscommunication if the delegate didn’t quite understand what the vendor was saying. I know this because I was on the SLA-Europe stand and could clearly see the ease at which our overseas visitors were placed when asking about different products. The service providers were also generous in handing out goodies to all delegates. Emerald stands out for a particular mention for this, because the SLA-Europe was opposite their stand, and I could clearly see their popularity with the delegates.
There appears to be a global consensus that academic libraries are currently fragmented and work with no standard processes in place that can be mapped easily to another institution. Another general consensus is that continuing professional development for the info pro is crucial – everywhere. It is suggested that an international blog could provide a cohesive voice in the industry that would allow the library and information profession to take a more vocal stance with the publishing world. I say – “bring it on”.
All over the world information professionals are constantly looking for ways to exploit new technologies and enhance their professional environment. There was much to learn at this conference regarding the cleaning up of bibliographic records and then deciding what tech to use to harness the data and transform or mash it with another format. One speaker suggests we should be engaging with the user community with regard to content, and we/they should be submitting documentation online via the use of widgets. We were shown a demonstration of how to successfully mash content using tools such as Yahoo Pipes. They make it look so easy...
We can see organisations are willing to open up their data to other external influences of like-minded professionals. This would create international standards, mashable catalogues and open programming that would allow others to play around with your data. Open Source is the widely recognised media to facilitate peer collaboration between organisations, which can add value to the collection/project. It is recognised that the use of tagging to enable others to comment on particular records does not interfere with the original integrity of the record because the citation remains intact.
It was also brought to the attention of the delegates that whilst peer collaboration is a good thing, there are other issues to complicate matters. Three little words can alter the whole collaborative project, unless in the first stage of the project they are addressed: REGULATORY COMPLIANCE CONSTRAINTS. So, how do we track documents that are matched to a copyright issue, regarding global use? This is an info pro’s nightmare, as it is almost impossible to work around the legislative jurisdictional copyright laws on a global scale.
At the risk of causing upset, 23 Things raised its head again at conference. I cannot ever condone the use of 23 Things in the corporate sector. A corporate colleague of mine expressed my exact thoughts on this issue, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear my view aired by another. (I’m not mad then…). However, I am also not totally intolerant of 23 Things if they are put to use in educational environments, schools etc, where the capacity for learning them is available. So there you are – I have said it. 23 Things ain’t that bad after all.