The changing face of academic library collections

Over the past few weeks, I’ve frequently come across the topic of the changing nature of academic library collections. While library collections is a topic outside of my normal purview, it does concern one of the committees I’m currently sitting on which has been tasked to search for a new university librarian. A recent OCLC report examines the emergence of a mass-digitized book corpus in the HathiTrust Digital Library and whether it can serve as a substitute for low-use print collections in academic libraries. Rick Anderson presents a thought-provoking presentation of next-generation workflows for libraries:

Social connectivity of LIS students

I have been rather surprised over the past two years by what I perceive to be a lack of social connectivity amongst a number of LIS students. By social connectivity I mean students who are not only aware of a variety of social media tools, including social cataloguing and bookmarking sites, but who actively use them. It’s a little disconcerting when you realize that you are often the most socially-connected person in a room of students; granted, I am not perhaps the best example, since my use of social media is probably rather above average, but given the age ranges of many of our students, I would expect a higher level of awareness and use of these tools. I wonder to what extent our frequent discussions of the importance of privacy deters many of our students from using these tools.

It’s a potentially difficult tightrope we walk across as instructors. On the one hand, we need to discuss the importance of privacy and the integrity of our personal information, and highlight the pitfalls of many social application sites; on the other hand, it’s important that our students be not only aware of these technologies, but also use them effectively. I’ve heard from a number of employers that one of the first things they do with a candidate is to determine his or her social presence; a lack of such a presence can be seen as a detriment, since it may suggest that the candidate is not engaged in social technologies. I certainly think that one can maintain a degree of privacy with respect to social application tools and, perhaps more importantly, exercise proper good sense and discretion in what information to post in such applications.

Do we go too far, perhaps, in discussing the dangers of breaches of privacy to the point where we create a culture of near paranoia? I think it’s important that we include in these discussions the question of risk assessment: Do the gains I achieve from using social tools outweigh the potential of privacy breaches? How likely are these breaches to occur? Are such breaches more likely or dangerous than, say, handing over your credit card to a salesperson at the desk, who could quite easily take note of the number and expiry date and use them? What is the balance amongst efficiency, convenience, and privacy?

Canadian public libraries are alive and well

Given the recent events in the U.K. and the U.S. with respect to the closure of public libraries, this article from the Toronto Star about the thriving state of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is a breath of fresh air. My experience as a frequent user of the Halifax Public Library echoes the sentiments expressed in this article. Whenever I visit my branch library, it is always filled with people of all ages and cultures. The collections appear to circulate actively and freely, if my holds record is anything to go by. There are always activities going on in the branch, from children’s readings and play time, to ESL classes and tutoring. Participation in the public fora with regard to the construction of a new central branch library has been high and representative of all strata of society. My research into some Canadian public library catalogues suggests that the successes of the HPL and TPL systems is paralleled in other parts of the country. The reasons for the continued success of public libraries in Canada are ripe for investigation. The article suggests that one reason for the success of TPL is the system’s outreach to Toronto’s very diverse cultural population and, in particular, to new Canadians. Certainly in HPL, I’ve witnessed a significant increase in the services devoted to celebrating our diverse cultural heritage. Such diversity is certainly not unique to Canada, but perhaps our willingness to embrace and celebrate it – and to reflect this spirit in our public services – is.

Five Tips for Smarter Social Networking

The following link from the Harvard Business Review poses some provoking thoughts on how to make better use of the potential of social networking: Five Tips for Smarter Social Networking – John Hagel III and John Seely Brown – John Hagel III and John Seely Brown – Harvard Business Review.

I must admit that I am ambivalent about points 2 and 3:  Mix professional and personal lives and Provoke.  My Facebook and Twitter accounts were created for personal use only, although I’ve noticed that it’s very hard to continue to draw that fine line, especially when your social network friends post information about your professional life on your behalf.  The “provoke” concept is particularly troubling, as I feel an obligation to conduct myself publicly with understanding that most people who read my posts know who I am and my professional career.  I can’t help but feel that I need to remember that anything I say publicly may reflect on my employer.  I think that the ‘provoke’ advice is risky at best, since how many people have lived – or will live to – regret posts that may damage their professional careers and reputations?  Even if I remove a post, there is no telling if or how someone else chooses to use that post without my consent.


National Survey on Early Literacy Program

A survey conducted by Dalhousie University’s School of Information Management and the Read to Me! Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program to gather information on early childhood literacy programs across Canada may be found at:

Read to Me!.

Congratulations to Dr. Vivian Howard, and MLIS students Deirdre O’Reilly and Naomi Balla-Boudreau for this important work.