library of the future – feedback 3

Hello Peter,

I think there are a number of reasons why librarian response has been muted. Like the others, I think its because of the question you asked: “Who are the librarians of the future?” At the risk of over-generalizing, librarians tend to think of the progressions of their field as occurring through organizations as opposed to through individuals. There’s no ‘i’ in library, so to speak.

That being said, I know a number of “librarians for the future”. One of them is Dan Chudnov, who – with others – developed the COinS convention to embed bibliographic metadata in HTML. He is also responsible for unAPI which I believe you are already familiar with. I particularly am fond of his credo: help people build their own libraries.

Another reason perhaps why there hasn’t been as much response as you had hoped is that libraries are grappling with their futures in their own constituencies. We are sadly feudal bunch in many ways. But that doesn’t mean we are indifferent to our future. For my own library-territory (academic libraries in Ontario, Canada), I helped write a report on developing a better platform for research needs called Scholr 2.0

Like William Gibson sort of said, the work towards the future library is here – its just not evenly distributed. Or, in this case, concentrated.

PMR: Thanks. I used the word “librarian” as well as library because of an initial suggestion from the blogosphere. It also helped to make it more personal and to highlight the fact that indivdiuals could make their own contribution.

I am not familiar with COinS or unAPI. Wikpedia has nothing on the former and any entries on unAPI are 18 months old, so is it used? I am a typical person who knows nothing in today’s world unless it’s thrust upon them. I spent a little time (<= 5 mins, my maximum) on both sites but couldn't get a grip on either. That either means they aren't being used or, if they are and are successful, need more marketing to expose them. It's not easy, but it's necessary.

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4 Responses to library of the future – feedback 3

  1. Peter Sefton says:

    All you need to know about unApI is that if you add the wordpress plugin then your blog becomes zotero friendly – people can grab your page and refer to it later. If memory serves me right COinS is the same kind of thing, allowing Zotero Google Scholar at al to find metadata in a page, it’s in the top of DSpace and ePrints pages for example.

  2. Mita says:

    I like to describe COinS and unAPI as plumbing that allows for rich data about articles and books to be effortlessly passed from one spot to another. And like plumbing, the only time user a should think about it is when there’s a problem.
    So yes, Peter S. is right – all you really need to know is that important functionality from tools like Zotero and LibX have been build upon this work.

  3. Emilce Rees says:

    Back to the Future ?
    Why not focus on the “libraries of the past”, where subject librarians actually knew their collections, patrons were not bullied into using machines to issue their own books despite there being an issue desk (can you imagine if your supermarket did that), and we could hope that the people at the enquiry desk actually knew something or someone, instead of directing users somewhere else, and, if lucky, spoke English and were not there simply for decoration purposes ?
    The “computer says no” mentality reigns and this is allowed to happen because libraries prefer to recruit dull people.
    Then and only then, academics will integrate librarians as part of the academic pair/team, and not think of us/them as merely pipe-connectors.

  4. Mark Leggott says:

    COinS is a great piece of technology. We recently embedded support for COinS in our institutional repository, which is largely metadata at this stage while we work with faculty to add open access content. You can give it a try at The system uses Drupal and Fedora.
    We also have an unAPI compliant system with our Evergreen ILS, which provides a very fast unAPI door into the catalogue –
    Great examples of smart technology that does not get used enough, I suspect largely because the closed-source vendors don’t support them.

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