4 May 2008

nsla strategic plan - a few notes about the draft

I read through the NSLA draft exposure of their strategic plan last night. This is a plan that involves all of the state and territory libraries and national libraries of Australian and New Zealand. I think it is wonderful that such a cooperative approach is being taken across states and hope that other government agencies are moving in similar ways. NSLA wants comment by 16th May if you are thinking of taking a look at it. A few things came to mind...

  1. This would have been an ideal candidate for using a wiki to gather feedback and engage with community. But if the projects outlined in the strat plan come to fruition then perhaps next time around. For now feedback must be mailed in after viewing a pdf version.
  2. The vision statement p.6 acknowledges that users want to be independent and that library expertise will move more towards metadata services, enhancing content and participation in outreach programs and shared services. The message i get here is that an environment where traditional face to face transactional engagement with users is reduced but more expertise devoted to metadata services (amongst other things) is being created. Interesting, given that there has been some concern about the level of cataloguing (metadata) expertise being developed during library studies.
  3. The strategies outlined clearly demonstrate that cooperation wins out over competition in the library sector - as it should. The second strategy seems to be a little behind the times though - "we will become agile, open, flexible and responsive, and let go of our traditional roles as guardian and gatekeeper". From what I've seen our national and state libraries appear to already be some way along this journey, although the general public's view of libraries is probably still at the guardian/gatekeeper stage - so spelling it out here might be a help.
  4. The first project outlined is about actions that can be taken quickly. One is to provide free wireless broadband in all NSLA buildings. Yep, excellent. I like it when i visit Queensland State Library and can access internet with ease and for free - but there are limited locations of NSLA buildings and many people will never use this service. The second part of this project is about making users knowledgeable about what they can do with content and a copyright algorithm that 'enables automated prediction of content copyright status'. Not sure what this means practically - I suppose there may be more info on the National Library of Australia's website as they are developing this algorithm.
  5. The second project is about identity management and library users having a single card (account?) that they can use to access services as they move interstate and possibly internationally between Australia and New Zealand. This is only in the context of the NSLA libraries but there may be potential there for public library users to take their library identity with them as they move about. I find it odd thinking about the concept of 'one library card' as it focuses on those actually visiting state and national libraries where a physical token of identity might be used. Many library users will never require a card, or microchip, or some other token to represent them as they use library services without ever stepping foot in a building. That's why i put account in brackets after card. I would like to access services and content from all of these institutions from the comfort of my home - so can i have an account please - card is optional. It's good to see that the scope of this project is also taking into consideration identity management as it is used for library users in public, institutional and academic libraries.
  6. Virtual Reference - I have decided that this is a bad choice of terminology. Virtual means 'almost' and suggests to me that unless you meet face to face, or possibly talk over the phone that any reference service you get is only 'almost' as good. The NSLA states "we envisage that virtual reference may be available on multiple technology platforms (such as email, instant messaging, voice over internet telephony, mobile phones, and with direct linking from each library catalogue, web page and onsite computer) and be actively promoted and marketed to users." How is landline telephony any different to mobile or VOIP? I can see where they are heading here and i like it, but how about a 'whole of reference service' approach and drop this 'virtual'. It's as if online service delivery is somehow not real. Online service delivery is mainstream these days.
  7. Project 4 is about bringing document delivery/interlibrary loan into the 21st century. Sounds great. Having struggled with an ILL module last year, I wish them every luck in getting disparate systems all working well and conversing with each other to underpin this digital delivery vision.
  8. User created content project sounds exciting and I hope that when it is built, they will come. "Users will be able to create mashups of community content with our content and contribute this to new stores of community memory" in a "personalised, digital library space". p. 15. Will they be lured away from the existing wild wild web of Youtube, Flickr and MySpace or will these platforms be integrated?
  9. Project 6 is about change management in the work culture. It must be addressed when boldly tackling the other initiatives in this plan.
  10. Project 7 appears to be the formulation of a national (possibly international) collection development policy to reduce duplication in selection, preservation and management of resources. This has strong ties to the project to provide digital delivery of resources, and should in theory lead to public monies being spent more effectively.
  11. Digitisation project appears to be the one that will do the most to dispel the image of librarian as gatekeeper as more content is made accessible without compromising originals. At this stage the project outcomes are mostly about investigation and planning rather than executing - so it remains to be seen what role there might be for partnering in this area. Will there be any alliances with the likes of Google Books for instance?
  12. New metadata services -- Detail is needed here to get a feel for what is proposed. The plan refers to a resource collection of metadata and another for a topic collection moving towards a single standard authority file. There have been challenges around getting contribution of authority data to Libraries Australia and its predecessors for years, especially with the rise of keyword searching. As the long tail gets ever longer and content grows exponentially will the authority file once again rise from the ashes... oops getting a little melodramatic there.... as dissatisfaction from keyword searching may grow.
  13. The final project is about improving discovery of library resources. I'll just comment on the first part of this project. "Explore ways of automatically linking our related digital content to web 2.0 services such as wikipedia entries" -- Does this mean that they somehow want to have links created in wikipedia that point back to library content? Is it just me or does anyone else get confused when people use the term 'link to' to mean a link that points back. On first read this sounded like they wanted to direct users from library content to wikipedia.

Exciting times.
Now I must fire off an email.