Ten Things… about Academic Libraries

TTW readers know I love a good “Ten Things” post! Run, do not walk to:

http://infonatives.wordpress.com/

Ten great things an online academic library can do:

  1. Communicate with the academic community
  2. Get proper subject librarians who know their stuff to generate the content for the library website!
  3. Provide high-quality, easy to use tools to put the content the users created online in various formats (see 4)
  4. Keep the content updated
  5. Provide consistent interfaces, preferably a single consistent interface where possible
  6. Present users with the resources they use, making things one click away
  7. Structure information, making it customizable where this is appropriate
  8. Make sure that everyone in the library is on the same page regarding services, ensure that users are getting the course offerings they want/need
  9. Provide a library toolbar
  10. Evangelize!

And Ten brainless things an online academic library can do:

  1. Not actively talking (listening) to the academic community
  2. Cut away the subject-specific angle and quality assurance in favour of a “streamlined”, centralized appearance
  3. Go static
  4. Implement technologies that help administration, but not the user
  5. Bolt bits on the old design to make it two-oh
  6. Federated search, but no training
  7. Cut away the OPAC in favour of ancillary systems (for example eJournal and database repositories)
  8. Rely on third parties with whom you have no trust relation to store important information
  9. Focus on what’s new/important/good rather than what’s being used
  10. Aquabrowser
  11. [BONUS] Providing five databases when one would have sufficed

Well said. PLEASE click through and read the explanations for all of the points. I would urge academic library folk to look at these very seriously in a staff meeting.

In my book, this is gold:

… if you’re not actively working with the academic communities you serve — and I mean really listening to them, helping them do their work in their way — you’re not going to do a good job. Libraries and librarians are mostly good at librarying, unfortunately the rest of the world isn’t interested; stop it.

The same might be said for instructional support in many institutions. <cough> Firefox <cough>

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6 thoughts on “Ten Things… about Academic Libraries”

  1. I don’t know. Isn’t Aquabrowser the tool that U of Chicago is now using? Someone in my Library User Instruction class did a session on it…and it’s freaking Sweet!! So I don’t really think that would be a step back as much as about…a million steps forward from bland boring catalogs that nobody uses.

  2. Leah – I haven’t used Aquabrowser that much… I’m glad you liked it. I’ll have to investigate further. Maybe we need a learning lab at school where we can pit ILS and ILS features against each other for comparison.

  3. Michael – Like an ultimate wrestling competition but with integrated library systems instead of sweaty guys in costume? omg I’m so in. :P

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