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 Each book needs time and a place, but can we invest our time in something, what’s outdated and not interesting for the most of our users?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?
There is much talk about the changing mission of the library. If the library was previously science center, but now it’s more like an entertaining place. Is this correct? Perhaps a healthy conservatism is needed for the library, otherwise this place should be called differently?
In any case it is necessary to preserve the best traditions of the past for the library? Or not?
My question is not how to use all new ways and tools (e.g. social media etc.) in work and in communication both with customers and with colleagues. My question is: how to get out of ones comfort zone in the first place and still plan and implement the changes and innovations in the professional field when your colleagues and clients are satisfied and happy with the current situation and solutions? How to overcome ones conservatism, both of librarians and of their clients? Maybe also a question how to keep the balance between “old” and “new”?
The Open Data -idea and the movement have been active now for several years. Libraries, and their bibliographical metadata seem like the perfect data to make available in a wider variety of ways; it’s systematically created and maintained, (supposedly) coherent and high quality, well documented, the concept of Open Data is quite easy to understand, the data is propably outside of copyright or the copyrights belong to libraries, it’s creation is typically tax-funded and is of wide interest, Open Data is politically endorsed, there are step-by-step guides how to do it, most if not all of the data is already available online via OPACs and possibly Z39.50 APIs too, libraries claim they are an “open platform” and easily accessible, technological innovation in libraries seems to be quite low… and finally, very few people seem to outright oppose libraries going Open Data.
A handful of libraries have taken the initiative to go their own way and go Open Data. However most libraries haven’t. During the Cycling for libraries -unconference I intend to find out why not.
I believe i can identify top 5 reason why libraries are still not Open Data. Also i hope i can figure out some counterarguments, and perhaps formulate counter-counterarguments to them, together with some other participants of Cycling for libraries.