librarians of the future – Part III

Continuing the theme of librarians (as creators of the new libraries). Very little feedback on the blog, a bit more on FriendFeed. A general feeling that ULibrarians (I shall use this to mean University Librarians who run ULibraries) were not appreciated by scientists and I thnk this has to be taken as fact. I have just asked a well-known bioscientist what ULibrarians should do in this century and he described them as dinosaurs. Sorry, but that’s what he said – I am just the messenger. ULibraries have to redevelop their market or go out of business (apart from looking after medieval books).
So here is my next five – the penultimate post unless you give me more ideas… Remember, these are people and institutions which affect my life. This is what matters to me. Because I spend more time in trying to systematize and liberate information, there’s an emphasis in digital infrastructure which wouldn’t be there for most experiemental scientists, but I would expect them to appreciate the direction.

  • Peter Morgan This is my first and only ULibrarian. “Peter Morgan is an arts graduate with degrees from Leeds and Sheffield universities in the UK. He has 30 years’ experience as an academic librarian in Manchester and, for the greater part of his career, at Cambridge University Library. He has held office in a variety of UK and European professional library organizations, and has also undertaken consultancies for the British Council in the Middle East and Pakistan. In Cambridge he combines the role of Medical Librarian with liaison responsibilities for digital library activities, and is currently seconded for three years to serve as director of the DSpace@Cambridge project.” That was 5 years ago, roughly when Peter made contact with us (and I emphasize the direction – he sought us out. It is quite possible for ULibrarians to get out of ULibrraies and visit scientists. It will not happen the other way round). We’d been involved in eScience things and Peter had become engaged in DSpace. With great energy and knowledge of The JISC he led a bid in which Imperial College and Cambridge developed a system for archiving data in DSPace (SPECTRa). This was followed by SPECTRa-T where we adapted the approach to textming chemistry in theses, so combining or skills with the needs of the digital library.Much of what we now do can be directly traced to Peter. He brought Jim Downing into the project, and as you know Jim has now become the centre of our information design and approach to digital libraries (in the sense of this blog). Peter showed us how to work with The JISC (the goals are different from explaoraory science) – the role of project manages, or reports, of liaison, of working out what the calls are for (i.e. reading the call, not subverting it to one’s own desires).
    Peter was not quite an “embedded” librarian – more a “peripatetic” in that he would spend long hours in our cybercafe in Chemistry working with the team. If UL’s wish to reinevtn themselves then the PeterMorgan is one role to espouse.
  • Rufus Pollock and the Open Knowledge Foundation. Rufus typifies the new generation of extremely active, multidisciplinary and multifaceted librarians of the future. He’s an econmist, until recently a student and now a research fellow and has an amazing vision of how knowledge should and can be Open. When he first found me (about 6 years ago ) I thought his ideas of KnowledgeForge were well-intentioned but wouldn’t work. Now I regard him as managing to create a huge number of valuable initiatiatives from Open Shakespeare to the digital licences which are required for this century. If he (or we) have an idea he’ll hack it up in hours and demonstrate web pages. He organizes meetings of the OKF and gets a wide range of of participants (see the one at the end of March – I can’t be there). he has co-opted me onto OKFN and this has been of enormous practical value to me work in scientific information as he and his collaborators has built the information and legal infrastructure for Open Data. That’s yet another thing that UL’s should be actively involved in
  • Protocol Online – your lab’s reference book . A community resource for collecting recipes and annotating what works and what doesn’t. I’m pointing to this particular one because a bioscience postdoc responded to my question of what digital resources he actually used. There are many examples of this in many disciplines – the community has decided to manage its own needs. In chemistry we have the Blue Obelisk, Open Notebook Science, Chemspider, WWMM/CrystalEye, etc. sets of community tools which increasingly will allow annotation to add quality and value.
  • Sourceforge. No librarian of the future can be ignorant of this. Simply one of the best digital libraries on the planet. It hosts computer program source code – free and Open – and manages an incredibly powerful versioning system (Subversion). Again, digital librarians MUST use versioning. SF allows me to do everything I want when developing code – author it, test it, compile it cross platform, revert, share, etc. etc. I know my code is safe. I know anyone in the world can see any version they want. I know they can correct bugs, … It has indirectly been the inspiration for many other systems such as Wikis (at least that’s my guess) …
  • SPARC. directed by Heather Joseph. “The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition is an international alliance of academic and research libraries developed by the Association of Research Libraries in 1998 which promotes open access to scholarship. They currently have over 800 institutions in North America, Europe, Japan, China and Australia. SPARC Europe was established with the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherch in 2001.”. SPARC has a distinguished record of freeing scholarly information, new methods of publication, etc. A typical example is their author addendum. When I first became involved in Open Data I approached Heather to see if they could provide a mailing list for promoting the concept, and they have run this for some years. SPARC ()  is sponsored by the ARL so is an example of ULs seeking to develop the new digital libraries.

[Please excuse the formatting WordPress is fighting me]

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2 Responses to librarians of the future – Part III

  1. rebecca says:

    interesting how all the librarians of the future are men.

  2. pm286 says:

    I noticed that. I should have included Heather Joseph under SPARC. Can you suggest additional names that would be important for scientists?

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