Baltic tour 2012

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Harri Annala: how can events such as these become more common among those in the library profession?

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I assist with the International Tasks at the Helsinki City Library, but I do keep myself on the floor of the library and thus in contact with the average library user. So I am interested in events such as these: sharing knowledge and experiences between people of the same profession, yet whose areas of expertise can be (and are) quite different.

In simple terms my question is: How can events such as these become more common among those in the library profession? And are there events or other ways that we could include actual library users as well?

Harri Annala


Richard Hawkins: how we as librarians and information professionals can best demonstrate the value of our libraries & collections?

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Since I don’t work in a library myself anymore I’m mostly interested in how we as librarians and information professionals can best demonstrate the value of our libraries & collections as well as the work we do (whatever that might be) to the general public and those in positions of power.

I’m therefore interested in hearing about ways in which we might be able to achieve the above – both old and new.

Hopefully I will be able to take what I learn from cyc4lib and use it to help make National Libraries Day in the UK more successful than in previous years.

Richard Hawkins


Anastasia Prokhorova: just a library or a cultural centre?

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I am sure that a library is not only a collection of books and documents but also an amazing public space. So how can we develop and influence on cultural life and which special events can we offer our visitors in the walls of the libraries? Can public libraries keep the leadership in organizing leisure-time? I would like to adopt different practices in organizing cultural projects from the colleagues from all over the world.

Anastasia Prokhorova


Olga Lachenmeier: what’s precious and what’s just old?

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The academic libraries often get older (scientific) books as a gift, but it’s clear – we cannot take them all. Each book needs time and a place, but can we invest our time in something, what’s outdated and not interesting for the most of our users?

Clearly – there are rules. For example: the prints older than 1850 have to be catalogued, but what can we do with one, printed after 1851, already in our library and just plain text? The decision is often not easy.
Must we take each book just as a thing, or a part of our history? As a silent witness of a person’s life? Is a short handwritten sentence on the site edge worth to be mentioned then? An underlining, a drawing, a bullet hole?

What’s precious and what’s just old? And how can you explain your decision to others?

Olga Lachenmeier


Sören Niehäuser: The library as the main learning space in university – chance or risk?

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Historically, the function of libraries in Colleges and Universities has been to store printed media and provide it to teachers and scholars for learning and research. As it was often not allowed to take books on loan to work at home, the library also has a long tradition of being a „Learning Centre“ where students sooner or later will have to come to work.

All that described above has changed a lot since a couple of years. Online ressources, E-books etc. have become more and more important, students have become more and more mobile in their work with Laptops etc.

Interestingly, as the library environment has the reputation of beeing a good place to learn, at least in Germany the use of library buildings as learning space has to the joy of the library officials,not decreased, but in the contrary, significantly increased, much aided by the provision of of highspeed W-Lan, Power Sockets etc.

With that developments in mind, it seems easy to argue: „We (as Library/Librarians) will remain very important in the academic world as we are the preffered learning environment which we provide to the students together with our information ressources, print and online.“ But will that be the case? University officials in Germany sometimes argue: „Well, objectively seen the refectory can provide learning space as well, as can multi-function seminar rooms etc., there is no need to focus on the library when it comes to learning space, its just a question of the right technical equipment, furniture etc.“

Nontheless it seems that students prefer libraries for their learning, even if the university provides learning space somewhere else. Undoubtedly thats a nice thing for us as librarians, but that leads to important questions:
Is being a „Learning space“ the future of the library? Can providing space for learning really compensate the possible loss of the importance of physically accessed media?

And more practical: What makes a library such a good learning space that it will be the long term winner of the „competion of the different learning spaces“? What can, on the long run, the library offer that other service providers can’t?

Sören Niehäuser


Marina Vazhnik: what future at scientific branch libraries during a digital epoch?

I work in the Belarus Agricultural Library (www.belal.by) in a department of Personal Users’ Service (Personal users are what come to library. Except them we have collective users. There are the organizations and institutes which our library serves under contracts, giving the information on “desktop”).

Last years, despite comfortable conditions (use in service of modern technics and the technologies, open access to printing fund and electronic resources, free preservation of the information, scanning, copying, the order for delivery of documents from domestic and foreign information centers, etc.) the steady tendency of reduction of users’ quantity coming to library was outlined.

The professional purpose of my trip – is an exchange of experience in service of users of scientific branch libraries.

Marina Vazhnik


Till Kinstler: who needs these catalogues?

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Sometimes my work seems rather pointless to me. As a software developer I implement all kinds of search interfaces for libraries. Every day I process crappy data and fight with broken library systems… Don’t get me wrong, that’s fun, I like my work very much, so much that I even spend part of my spare time on an open source project building one of these “next generation catalogue 2.0 discovery interfaces…”: VuFind…

But who really needs these catalogues and search tools – the old style OPACs as well as the new “discovery interfaces”? Yes, these new catalogues can improve user experience and are definitely more usable than the old boolean OPACs. But even if they are more user friendly, where are the use cases? Where are the users? We know well, that discovery of knowledge resources happens everywhere, all the time – but hardly ever in library catalogues or so called discovery interfaces. People don’t come to the library to use the catalogue or discovery interface. They come to the library to enjoy the great services it offers: to access knowledge resources, to take something home, to get work done, to get solid advice, free internet, to browse shelves, to enjoy the spatial experience and atmosphere, or just a coffee,… But the catalogue is just a leftover from times, when we had nothing better to show people our holdings.

And while we are good at running libraries, we are not good at building search engines… So why do we show users a “search box”, when they already know, what they want? Why do we frustrate them with our ideas of discovery (tools) when they know best themselves how to discover stuff? And why don’t we make our real services more easily accessible? Why don’t we deliver instead of making users search? We spend so much effort and resources on providing search interfaces, that nobody needs any more…

I have some ideas, why we struggle here and I am happy to discuss them while cycling. And please, if you think I am wrong, try to convince me! 🙂

And I have some ideas, what we could improve. Wouldn’t it be great, if you could get a checkout link to your local library in a Google result when you search for a book? Just as you get a link to your favourite book seller? Or as you get a link to your local cinema when you google a film title, including screening times and a map showing how to get there by bike or public transport from your current location? I think, that’s possible…

Till Kinstler


Pekka Heikkinen: what do the libraries have to offer to rights-holders in exchange for so-called e-rights, except money?

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As a lawyer working for the national library I am often involved in negotiations with collecting societies, representing rights-holders, on making digitised material available to the public. As you can imagine, usually our position in these negotiations is not too strong.

My question: what do the libraries have to offer to rights-holders in exchange for so-called e-rights, except money? Is it skill, long-term preservation solutions or what? What could the win-win solution be?

If only we had money to offer, everything would be so much simpler!

Pekka Heikkinen


Jean-Marie Feurtet: recovering from a metadata schizophrenia?

How could we step out of the dichotomy between classical catalogues (“classical” : are they bound to be dedicated to heritage documents ?) and repositories of digitized surrogates (supposing that it is the general fate of collections prior to the end of XXth century) ?

Is this distinction still necessary and sometimes relevant, or is it a historically-based schizophrenia to get rid of ?

Jean-Marie Feurtet


Sebastian Slotte: why wasn’t I invited to the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Savonlinna public library?

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I was a tourist in the city of Savonlinna in Eastern Finland on June 13. and I was eager to visit the physical main library. Well I found it on the streetmap but I could not see any library around. So I stopped a patrolling police car on the street and asked. They pointed at a hill just behind my back. Yes, there it was hidden behind some trees on the top of the hill.

Inside the library a member of the staff at the counter informed me that the foundation stone of a new main library in Savonlinna was bricked in a ceremony that same day.

Today I checked out a blog about the making of the new library in Savonlinna. Now I know that the event was not public. It was a “private party” with 60 guests and a brass band.

My question is: Why people of Savonlinna and tourists like myself were NOT invited to join the foundation party of the new library in Savonlinna on June 13; to drink the non-alcoholic sparkling wine; to listen to the local brass band and finally to get a glimpse of the new physical library in the making?

I am grateful for any help from Savonlinna Municipal Library Chief, mr Tapani Boman, to get an answer to my question.

For more information about Savonlinna Library (in english) http://www.savonlinna.fi/kirjasto/en/municipal_library

Sebastian Slotte


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