Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here's a really long post to go along with a brown bag presentation scheduled for Feb. 18. It's my report on Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends held August 3-5, 2008 in Denver. Almost all of the presentations have Power Points online and there are some podcasts as well.  

Some of the presentations that I found most illuminating were those of David W. Lewis, Dean of the University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis “Reference in the Age of Wikipedia, Or Not... “ Lewis discussed the idea of disruptive innovation stemming from the works of Clayton Christensen. We have several of these at UNCG and currently all except a brand new one are checked out.
  • Christensen, Clayton M. Disrupting class : how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns / Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson. New York : McGraw-Hill, c2008. Jackson Library In process, LB1027 .C4662 2008 (c.1)
  • Christensen, Clayton M. Seeing what's next : using the theories of innovation to predict industry change / Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, Erik A. Roth.  Boston : Harvard Business School Press, c2004. HD30.28 .C54 2004 (c.1)
  • Christensen, Clayton M. The innovator's solution : creating and sustaining successful growth / Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor. Boston, Mass. : Harvard Business School Press, c2003. HD53 .C495 2003 (c.1)
  • Understanding consumer behavior / [contributors, Stephen Brown ... [et al.].  Boston, MA : Harvard Business School Pub., c2002. HF5415.32 .U5280 2002 (c.1)
  • Christensen, Clayton M. The innovator's dilemma : when new technologies cause great firms to fail / Clayton M. Christensen. Boston, Mass. : Harvard Business School Press, c1997. HD53 .C49 1997 (c.1)
Here are some quotes from Lewis’s talk:
  • “One bedrock finding from our research is that companies innovate faster than customer’s lives change. In other words, what people are looking to get done remains remarkably consistent, but products always improve. Thus, products eventually become too good.” 
  • “Don’t ask you customers what they want, rather watch what they do.” 
  • “When a profession has been created as a result of some scarcity, as with librarians or television programmers, the professionals are often the last ones to see it when that scarcity goes away. It is easier to understand that you face competition than obsolescence.”
It’s particularly interesting to find out what’s going on right down the road – so I attended a presentation by some fellow North Carolinians. Night time virtual reference (VR) collaboration between the libraries at Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This “Night Owl” chat collaboration began in 2003 and allows the libraries to offer their virtual reference services later in the night by sharing the task of staffing it. During the day, each library staffs its service separately, only answering questions from its own patrons. Librarians and a software developer have produced Library H3lp – to help them manage a chat service staffed at multiple points. 
  • Josh Boyer, Associate Head, Distance Learning and Research & Information Services, D.H. Hill Library, North Carolina State University. 
  • Jean Ferguson, Head of Research and Reference Services, Perkins Library, Duke University. 
  • Eric Sessoms, co-developer of Libraryh3lp, is Executive Consultant for End-to-End Data Operations and for the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory. 
  • Pam Sessoms, co-developer of Libraryh3lp, is Electronic Reference Services Librarian, Davis Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  • Amy VanScoy, Ph.D. Student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,  Associate Head of Research & Information Services, D.H. Hill Library, North Carolina State University. 
This was another session I really liked: “Traditional" vs. "Hipster" Librarians: How can we alleviate tensions and reconcile the differences between old-fashioned, “traditional” librarians and tech-savvy “hipster” librarians? This presentation takes a look at the paradigm shift from “system-centered” to “user-centered” librarianship in order to understand how and why these differences have arisen, and anticipates the next paradigm shift to “knowledge-centered” librarianship. Presenter: Hannah Kwon, Ph.D. Student, Rutgers University, SCILS, NJ

Another presentation I enjoyed, reminding me that students see Facebook as their domain and don’t necessarily want to be was: 
“Okay, This is Just Too Weird: Identifying Outreach Opportunities in Facebook” (Panel) Elizabeth Edwards, and David Bietila, Gelman Library, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
Social networking sites like Facebook offer libraries unique opportunities for reaching students. We present the findings of our mixed-method study, which examined students' use of Facebook and library resources, and made recommendations for our library's Facebook initiatives.

One of the most interesting talks was the plenary panel including R. David Lankes of Syracuse U, Jamie LaRue of Douglas County Libraries, Marie Radford of Rutgers and Carla Stoffle of Univ. of AZ . It’s available on the site as a podcast, and I’ll have to say that Dr. Radford is one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard! There was universal agreement by panelists that reference staffing and service provision models are changing radically and that librarians should be ahead of the curve in anticipating what patrons will need for the future. One study quoted says that 85% of questions don’t require librarians – based on this, what staffing patterns should we follow? Shift in Reference to more and more paraprofessionals at the desk – in academic libraries, often more emphasis now on working with faculty and classes.

In the end, all of the different ways to provide service and reach our audience confirmed a strong desire to connect people with information in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

Mary Krautter

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