Technology Co-Evolves with Organization and Behaviors

By Lorcan Dempsey

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This section is in two parts. The first considers ways technology has been stitched into the fabric of organization and behaviors. The second part builds on this observation to look at some ways in which technology is influencing library direction and organization. The focus is broad, and looks at how technology is co-evolving with the systemwide organization of libraries, with materials and workflows, and with interactions between people, resources and libraries. These are examples of trends that are more far-reaching than specific technologies or applications, and need to be considered more purposefully by libraries as they position themselves in changing research, learning and information contexts.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The fabric of organization and behaviors.  We often think about technology in a way that seems to belong to an earlier period. We think of it as distinct from organization, behaviors and activities, as an identifiable, separable factor in the environment. This means that we often think of it in terms of events (the introduction of a new discovery layer) or of a set of interactions (the use of social networking by libraries). This is natural enough, and of course we need to think about some things in this way for practical management purposes (specifying, operating, etc).

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 More generally, however, this creates a misleading separation between behaviors and organization on the one hand, and technology on the other, and results in a narrowing of focus and even occasional distortion. Information behaviors, services and their organizational contexts all co-evolve with the network and with technology environments. This means that we are now in a phase where we need to think of the network or digital technologies as constitutive rather than as external, as part of the fabric of organization, work and behaviors (see Orlikowski & Scott, 2008). Technology does not have to be visible to be influential.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Think of three quick examples which make this clearer: workflow, discovery, and space. In each case, technology and behaviours emerge together in practice.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Workflow. In a print environment, students and researchers had to build their workflow around the library if they wanted to interact with information resources. However, information activities are often now rebundled with a variety of digital and network workflows. For example, discovery may happen in a research management system like Mendeley, or in Google Scholar, in Google itself, or in Wikipedia, all services which are a part of general network use behaviors.  Resources may be found through recommendations on Amazon, or through interactions with friends or colleagues in FaceBook, or through a question and answer service like Yahoo Answers. Scholars may organize their work around central disciplinary services like PubMed Central, or ArXiv, or SSRN. Convenience is highly valued in this environment (Connaway & Faniel, 2014) and in a reversal of the earlier model it becomes important for the library to think about how it builds services around user workflow, rather than expecting prospective users to come to the library, whether we think of the library as a building, as a set of people, or as a website. There is no single identifiable ‘technology’ at play here: the network and digital workflow tools provide the material base for new behaviors to emerge, and those behaviors in turn influence further development. In this way, understanding workflow, and the variety of ways in which it is enacted, becomes important for the delivery of library services. The ability to integrate ebook platforms with research or learning workflow, for example, may be more important than specific technical characteristics of those platforms.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 1 Discovery. Discovery effort in libraries has focused successively on the catalog, on metasearch, and on discovery layers. However as noted above, these library-provided services now account for a part only of discovery activity. Discovery often happens elsewhere (Dempsey, 2012), and apart from anecdotal or local investigation (e.g. Fransen et al., 2011) we do not have a general sense of the pattern of discovery activity within learning and research workflows. However, we do know that information provider referral logs show traffic coming from multiple sources. Library discovery services account for a low single digit percentage of JSTOR referrals, for example (Heterick, 2014).

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 At the same time it is becoming clearer that libraries should be more actively disclosing institutional resources for discovery where their users are, by more actively pursuing SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, or by sharing metadata more broadly, or in other ways (Arlitsch & O’Brien, 2013;  Fransen et al., 2011). These resources include research and learning materials in so-called institutional, or other, repositories, researcher expertise and profiles, unique or rare materials from special collections or archives.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 This is a good example where a focus on a particular visible technology, ‘library discovery’, has caused a narrowing of focus, to the extent that we do not have a good holistic view of how best to facilitate rendezvous of scholars and students with information resources, or of how libraries should effectively disclose institutional resources to make them more generally discoverable. Discovery is an activity which is woven through behaviors in a variety of ways, and to support its role the library has to think more broadly about how potential users are connected with resources.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1 Space. Library space used to be configured around library collections, and access to them. Now it is being configured around experiences – group working, access to specialist expertise or facilities, exhibitions, and so on. Of course this is for a variety of reasons. A major one is that the use of collections has changed in a network environment, making the proximate storage of large print collections less necessary as usage shifts to digital. At the same time, technology is an integral part of new space design. Think about wireless, facilities for group work, access to communication, visualization, and so on. Again, technology is part of the fabric; thinking about it as an additive external factor is misleading.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 The challenge for libraries and librarians, then, is to think of technology not only as particular visible ‘systems’ which need to be designed and managed, but also to think of technology as an integral part of service and organizational design more generally.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Libraries and some general technology directions.  Against this background, then, it is not surprising that technology is a core part of library configuration, even where we don’t always explicitly call it out. In the remainder of this section, we discuss some broad technology trends and how they affect libraries.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 One pattern recurs. There is a balance between concentration (the network favors scale) and diffusion (the network favors fine-grained interactions and peer to peer connection). This creates an interesting dynamic for the library, as it is to some extent squeezed in the middle between the webscale and personal poles of network experience. We discuss three general trends:

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 1. Bundles and boundaries: reconfiguring systemwide organization. As patterns of distribution and interaction change in a network environment, so does the organization of work, resources and behaviors. Activities may be unbundled and rebundled, and boundaries shift. This is both in the backoffice where functionality may be collaboratively or externally sourced, and on the user side, where information behaviors are being changed by network level services, workflow tools, and a variety of information resources.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 2. An informational future: facilitating creation, curation, consumption. A dynamic informational environment is replacing a more static ‘document’ based world. Our activities leave traces, which can be gathered and mined. The creation and diffusion of information resources is a part of many activities in a digital environment, and the contact points between library services and learning and research workflow multiply. Libraries will facilitate creation as well as curation and consumption.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 3. The power of pull: decentering the library network presence to connect people and resources. The library is working to be visible and active in a decentralized network of people, resources and organizations.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 1 This discussion draws on Dempsey (2012), Dempsey and Varnum (2014) and on Dempsey, Malpas and Lavoie (2014). The overarching theme is that we need to prepare for systemic changes by better understanding how organizations and behaviors are being reshaped by the network.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Bundles and boundaries: reconfiguring systemwide organization.  Library services and organizations were formed in an era of physical distribution and interaction. The digital network reduces transaction costs, potentially changing those patterns of distribution and interaction. Transaction costs are the costs incurred in the interaction between organizations – the effort, time, or money expended in interaction with others.  Although we do not usually think about it in this way, transaction costs in a network environment are actually a major driver of library development.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 The economist Ronald Coase (1937) famously argued that an organization’s boundaries are determined by transaction costs. For example, at one time it was economical for an organization to manage its own payroll. However, now, many organizations have unbundled that functionality and contract for it externally. Lower transaction costs, driven by the network, have greatly enhanced the ability to unbundle particular functions and source them externally in this way. This dynamic has facilitated the emergence of complementary, specialist providers who can achieve economies of scale by supplying multiple organizations with a particular service (ADP for payroll, for example). It has also facilitated the emergence of a collaboratively sourced model, as, for example, in Wikipedia, where the reduced cost of coordination in a network environment creates new possibilities.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 How does this relate to libraries? In a physical world, a major role of libraries was to assemble information materials close to their users. It was convenient for each university to internalize a collection of locally assembled materials, to organize it, and to interpret it for its users. The alternative, where students or researchers were individually responsible for all of their information needs would be inefficient and expensive: the aggregate transaction costs would be very high. Transaction costs could be minimized by placing collections close to learners and researchers. This led to multiple local collections. It also meant that the bigger the local library was, the better it was seen to be, because it satisfied potentially more of local needs without having to go outside the institution. This gave rise to the model of the library that has dominated university perceptions until recently: that of a building which houses print collections and of an organization vertically integrated around the management of those collections.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 As transaction costs came down in a network environment, there have been several waves of systemwide library reorganization, as it made sense for activities previously a part of library infrastructure to be unbundled and sourced in consolidated platforms. Notably, these successively included the development of shared cataloging and resource sharing networks (provided through collaborations, or as in Europe and other parts of the world, through shared public infrastructure), the move to a licensing model for the journal literature (with parallel consolidation of aggregator, agents and publishers), and the trend to cloud-sourced discovery and library management environments. Of course, the business arrangements and service configuration in each of these cases is different, but they share the drive of reducing transaction costs by unbundling institutional functions and consolidating them in shared network platforms. At the same time, negotiation and licensing moved partly into shared or consortial settings.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 This trend is also familiar to us from the broader environment, and has accelerated in recent years. Whole industries have been reconfigured, as the physical distribution of functionality and expertise to multiple local sites is no longer always required. At the same time, consolidated platforms can concentrate functionality and data, and deliver the benefits widely. Think of the impact of Amazon on retail, or of Expedia on travel. Think of how UPS, ADP, Etsy or Square have allowed businesses to focus on what is distinctive to them, as they facilitate unbundling of local infrastructure and its rebundling in the shared platforms they provide. Or think of how cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, Rackspace, etc.) can accelerate organizational development by providing computing and applications capacity to startups and other organizations. As the need for physical distribution of expertise and materials diminishes, there is a trend to achieve economies of scale and greater impact by moving to network level hubs.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 The reduction in transaction costs continues to drive change across the library system. Think of this from both infrastructure (supply side, where there is a trend to concentration to achieve economies of scale) and user (demand side, where there is a trend to diffusion, to integrate with workflows) perspectives.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 InfrastructureLibraries will increasingly collaborate around systems infrastructure (as in the growing interest in cloud-based shared management systems) and collections (such as the growing interest in shared print management arrangements), or unbundle these activities and externalize them to third parties where it makes sense (JSTOR, Portico, etc.). As transaction costs continue to fall in a network environment this trend accelerates, and richer patterns of sourcing emerge as libraries collaboratively build capacity, or externalize to third parties. This trend favors concentration of shared operations in specialist providers and accelerates inter-library interactions. Think of HathiTrust. A few years ago, it is likely that many libraries would have individually built infrastructure to manage digitized books and store them locally. Now a shared model is more compelling, as the network has reduced the transaction costs of creating and interacting with a single shared resource. Concentration is a deliberate strategy: Heather Christenson describes it as a “research library at web scale” (Christenson, 2011). Think about the shared system infrastructure within a network of libraries like the Orbis Cascade Alliance (Helmer, Bosch, Sugnet, & Tucker, 2013).

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 In this context, Courant and Wilkin (2010) talk about a growth in ‘above-campus’ library services and Neal (2010) talks about a growth in ‘radical collaboration’. New collaborative and institutional frameworks are emerging to support this move, as we discuss when talking about collaboration. In considering this trend, it is again notable that organizational models co-evolve with network affordances.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Library Users. On the user side, the change has been much more sudden and far-reaching. Whereas information creation and use may have been organized around the library, it is now coming to be organized around network level services that support individual workflows. For researchers and learners, the transaction costs of creating and using information resources have declined considerably. Access is no longer via a small number of physical gates, but has diffused across many network resources. Think of this selection of very different services:

  • 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0
  • arXiv, SSRN, RePEc, PubMed Central (disciplinary repositories that have become important discovery hubs);
  • Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon  (ubiquitous discovery and fulfillment hubs);
  • Mendeley, Citavi, ResearchGate (services for social discovery and scholarly reputation management);
  • Goodreads, LibraryThing (social description/reading sites);
  • Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, Khan Academy (hubs for open research, reference, and teaching materials).
  • GalaxyZoo, FigShare, OpenRefine (data storage and manipulation tools)

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 These network level services are important components of workflow and information use for researchers and learners. A large part of discovery activity has been unbundled to Google, to Google Scholar, to Amazon, and to other services.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Some library directions.  How libraries coordinate to get work done is changing as transaction costs are reduced in a network environment. And, although we don’t normally think in these terms, these changes have been, and will continue to be, far-reaching. They are a central feature of how technology is an important part of library development, although here the ‘technology’ may be less visible. The implications are many. Here are two important ones.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Conscious coordination:A trend towards shared services makes the structure and planning for such frameworks more important. This is an important area requiring conscious coordination among libraries and higher education institutions[1]. The governance of the organizations to which these responsibilities are entrusted also becomes a critical community issue.  Why this is so should be clear, but upheaval in scholarly communication underlines the issue. Scholarly publishing is discussed elsewhere in this volume, but the sourcing of academic publishing with a range of external publishers provides an interesting example of control and governance. Publisher-sourced operations raise issues around the curation of the scholarly record, about sharing of materials, and about assuring the type of access that is compatible with use and re-use in research and learning. One strand of this scholarly communication discussion is about rebundling publishing with the university, to address perceived deficiencies of the current model.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Disintermediation and the shift to engagement. There has been some discussion about how the library has been disintermediated in this network environment, as students and researchers build workflow around a range of network tools and services. Configuring the library resolver to work with Google Scholar re-intermediates the library, this time not as a discovery venue but as a fulfillment venue. This is an example of how the library has to think differently about creating value for its users. A high level characterization might be that we will see a greater shift at the library level from infrastructure provision to richer engagement models (Dempsey, 2013a). This underlines the twin trend to concentration, or scale, and to diffusion. It is likely that more infrastructure provision (systems, print collection storage, expensive shared facilities) will move to shared environments, or be sourced with third parties. At the same time, library user workflows are diversifying, as people assemble information environments from multiple network resources and tools. In this context, and as those workflows are increasingly digital, engagement with research and learning behaviors becomes crucial – around curricula, research data management, new forms of scholarly publishing, and so on.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 An informational future: facilitating creation, curation, consumption.  Manuel Castells uses ‘informationalization’ and ‘informational’ on the model of ‘industrialization’ and ‘industrial’. Informational activities are activities where productivity is maximized through the use of knowledge, gathered and diffused through information technologies. ‘Informationalization’ is visible at all levels. Doors open automatically, physical currency is disappearing; the collection of digital documents is an integral part of health and other fields; the flow of materials is monitored by tracking systems; domestic and office environments are becoming more ‘intelligent’; distribution chains, the disposition of goods around retail floors, investment decisions, these and others are increasingly influenced by behavioral data. Flows of people and materials follow the flows of data.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 In this way, just as in our discussion about technology, our behaviors increasingly have an informational dimension. As this happens, issues of information creation, curation and consumption become increasingly pervasive of a broader range of activities.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 In our immediate context we can see this trend manifest itself very clearly as the scholarly record is diversifying to include not only the traditional outcomes of research (articles, books), but the products of the research process itself (primary materials, data, methods, preprints, etc.), and the aftermath of research (derivative, repurposed, and aggregate works) (Dempsey, Malpas & Lavoie, 2014). Increasingly, scientific knowledge is digitally recorded in, and dependent on, the complex infrastructures where the research is done. While patterns of activity across disciplines, practitioners and institutions vary, support for the creation, curation and use of the scholarly record poses interesting challenges.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 As we move from a relatively static ‘document’ based world to a more dynamic informational one, strategies to cope with scale, or abundance, emerge. Consider some examples.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 A computational approach is becoming more routine. Think of what is involved in managing repositories of digital materials, video recordings, and archives of web materials. For example, we will programmatically extract metadata from resources, as the volume of resources to be managed makes it difficult for manual processes alone to cope. We will mine text and data for patterns and relationships. In Franco Moretti’s term, ‘distant reading’ will complement close reading, as we programmatically analyze large data sets and text corpora. (Moretti, 2014).

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 Resources are social objects that become nodes in a network environment. Think of ‘bibliographic’ services: Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, WorldCat, Mendeley. They each provide functional value: they get a job done; however they also provide network or social value as people make conversation and connections around resources of interest or importance to them. This in turn enhances the value of those services. Similarly think of a reading list or a bibliography or a resource guide: they frame resources in the context of particular research or pedagogical interests. Or think of a course, and the development of interaction around it in online environments.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Analytics is now a major activity, as transaction or ‘intentional’ data is aggregated and mined for insight. We have become used to recommendations based on buying or navigation patterns. Asmore material is digital, as more business processes are automated, and as more activities shed usage data, organizations are manipulating larger amounts of relatively unstructured data and extracting value from it. Within the library field, patterns of download, holdings or resolution are being mined to improve services. Within the university, there is growing interest in learning analytics to facilitate retention and student support (Siemens, 2013).

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 From Strings to things. This is a phrase of Google’s which signals a growing interest in more semantic approaches involving entity recognition, ontologies, clustering of like items, and so on. Google, and other search engines, are interested in establishing a singular identity for ‘things’ (e.g. people, places, historic periods) and creating relationships between those things. This enhances their abilities to provide rich responses to queries. To see this in practical terms, see how Bing and Google show ‘knowledge cards’ in results. More broadly, an interesting example of this trend is the interest in author identifiers. A general framework for author identity facilitates a variety of search, profiling, assessment and other services to be built more confidently than relying on string matching only.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Some library directions.  In a network environment where information is abundant, where informationalized workflows support research and learning practices, where researchers and learners create as well as consume, our sense of information management and user engagement shifts.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Collections, from consumption to creation.As information use and the locally managed collection are decoupled, it moves the library towards a set of services around creation, curation, and consumption of resources that are less anchored in a locally managed collection, and more driven by engagement with research and learning behaviors. In a digital environment, the intersection points with research and learning behaviors multiply, to include, potentially, support at all points in the life-cycle.  Examples in a research context are the support for data curation, copyright, new forms of scholarly publishing/curation, bibliometrics and research profiling, data mining and visualization, and so on. In a learning context, support for research skills or curriculum development come to mind, as well as the types of support required for a range of new learning and teaching models. Consider the recent emphasis on the flipped classroom, online learning or MOOC developments, and the support requirements they raise. The library becomes more interested in supporting creation alongside curation and consumption.  Vinopal (2014) presents an interesting pyramid of services, noting a spectrum from standard enterprise support (e.g. text scanning), to standard research services (e.g. data analysis tools or web exhibits), to enhanced research services (e.g. custom-designed UI), to applied R&D that might be supported by grants.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Decision support. This trend has major implications for discovery, selection, acquisition, and management of collections. Consider the relative roles of DDA (demand driven acquisition) and library selected material, for example. Think of literature searching in an environment where researchers belong to several recommendations ‘networks’ (e.g., Google Scholar, Mendeley, GoodReads, ResearchGate, etc.).  Group or consortial environments are especially interesting in this regard, as the systems apparatus on which they run becomes more integrated and data-aware. Think of the data available to a group of libraries sharing interlibrary lending, acquisitions, discovery, and DDA operations. We are looking towards an environment where this data will be used to trigger acquisitions, collection balancing between institutions, digitization, consolidation in shared print environments, disposal, and so on. Analytics have become central, and the connections between usage, management, and purchasing/licensing decisions will become firmer as intelligent workflows are connected to networks of shared data about resources, usage, and people.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Bibliographic infrastructure and the web of data. There is at once an opportunity here, and a challenge.  Important intellectual work has been done by libraries on describing people, works and other entities yet ways must be found of mobilizing that work in this new environment. Our bibliographic infrastructure is evolving towards a more entity-based approach, as we think about modeling and exposing data about entities of interest (works, authors, places), rather than shipping around bundles of data about titles (records). Work on data modeling, linked data and related issues is being carried out by multiple agencies, with the goal of integrating bibliographic practices more fully with the web.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 The power of pull: decentering the library network presence to connect people and resources.  As information creation and interaction diffuse through network workflows, and as gravitational hubs emerge which concentrate use (Wikipedia, Google Scholar), the library has to position itself in the network differently. It has to place services and interaction in the flow of research and learning practices. It has to exercise what John Hagel and colleagues (2010) call the ‘power of pull’.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 We note two important trends here, each of which decenters the library network presence, aiming to place library services in the flow of the researcher or learner. The first of these is unbundling communication to various social networks; the second is syndication of metadata and services to other environments. A major part of this is a shift from managing ‘knowledge stocks’, in Hagel, Brown, and Davison’s terms, to being able to participate in ‘knowledge flows’. There is a centrifugal trend, as interaction is pushed out into the network, becoming more diffuse to reach researchers and learners in their workflows.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 Each of these developments is pre-strategic in library terms, an emergent trend which so far escapes established service categories and standard organizational patterns. Again the technology is not something external to be managed; practice emerges naturally in a network environment.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Social networking.  Libraries have very clearly moved beyond early experiments with FaceBook or Flickr. To a varying degree, libraries have unbundled some communication activity from the ‘centered’ library website’, and have rebundled it with social networking tools. So, a library may have a presence, or several presences (e.g. different departments, such as special collections, may have their own presence), on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram, on Flickr, and so on. In this context, it is worth noting a move from ‘push’ (unilateral communication) to ‘pull’ (attracting an audience to you), as active engagement is emphasized over simple information availability.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Social networking may be used to intersect with and attract internal library users, to attract external scholars or other users to valuable local resources, or to engage related professional audiences. While initial approaches were opportunistic and informal, there is clearly an awareness of the importance of social networks for engagement and communication, which has raised issues of resourcing, branding and formality – issues reflecting permanence in strategy and priority for libraries.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 Libraries value objectivity and neutrality. The collection or the library website may be the product of expertise but that expertise is not on display. However, there is growing awareness that if libraries want to be seen as experts, then their expertise must be seen. One of the characteristics of the network is that it connects people, to each other and to resources, in new ways. People are resources in a network environment.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Again, Hagel and colleagues provide some interesting context here (Hagel, Brown & Davison, 2010).

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 It’s not so much about finding which information is most valuable, as many of those who fret about information overload would have it. Improving return on attention is more about finding and connecting with people who have the knowledge you need, particularly the tacit knowledge about how to do new things. […]

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 These people and the knowledge flows they generate can then become effective filters for information more broadly. [..] Since we deeply understand their contexts and passions, we can begin to determine when their recommendations are most reliable and increase our return on attention for both the tacit knowledge they offer and the information they recommend to us. Our personal social and professional networks will be far more effective in filtering relevant knowledge and information than any broader social-technology tools we might access.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 It is interesting to note the extent to which success is seen by the authors to be bound up with network participation – networks of people and resources facilitated by digital networks. The future, they seem to suggest, favors – in Dave White’s phrase – the ‘network residents’. White and colleagues discuss a spectrum of network engagement from visitor to resident (White & Le Cornu, 2011). A visitor has a functional view of network resources, visiting them when required – to book a flight, to search for something, to do taxes. For the resident, on the other hand, the network is an important part of their identity, of how they communicate, get work done, and relate to people and things. Researcher and learner behavior varies along this spectrum, but again, for the resident, technology is not divorced from behavior.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 This variation in behavior creates interesting questions for the library in terms of how it attracts different classes of users to its services.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Syndication.  We can define syndication as creating connections to library information services in other environments, by placing data, content or services in those other environments. Library resources may be made available, for example, as plugins in the learning management system, or as apps for mobile phone and tablets. The library may syndicate data to other environments, through OAI-PMH harvesting or newer linked data approaches, or by more active transfers to aggregator services (WorldCat or DPLA, for example). The library may configure a resolver to ensure well-seamed access from Google Scholar or Pubmed Central, which is also a form of service syndication.  While it is clear that syndication is a significant activity of libraries, it has not crystallized as a clear service category with a recognized name and a singular organizational home in the library.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 In this context, there is an important distinction to be made between ‘outside-in’ resources (books, journals, databases, and so on, bought and licensed by the library for their institution) and ‘inside-out’ resources (digitized images or special collections, learning and research materials, research data, administrative records, and so on, which are generated within the institution and shared with external users) (Dempsey, 2012). Access to the former is provided through discovery layers.  How effectively to disclose the ‘inside-out’ material is also of growing interest across the universities of which the library is a part. This presents an interesting challenge, as here the library wants the material to be discovered by their own constituency but often also by a general web population (Arlitsch & O’Brien, 2013). The discovery dynamic varies across these types of resources. A significant contribution of the University of Minnesota report is to explain how the dynamic differs across types of resources and to develop response strategies (Fransen et al., 2011). Effective disclosure of unique institutional resources to the web, search engines and other agents is a key area for attention. It is a necessary response in a changed technology environment.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 Some library directionsWhere researchers and learners may not go directly to the library website, how do you place expertise and resources in the flow of what they do? Hagel et al talk about ‘attracting’ relevant and valuable people and resources to you. This is done through personal engagement, participation in campus activities, but it also has a network dimension. Here are some questions:

  • 57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0
  • Are library resources visible where people are doing their work, in the search engines, in citation management tools, and so on?
  • Is library expertise visible when people are searching for things? Can a library user discover a personal contact easily? Are there photographs of librarians on the website? The University of Michigan has a nice feature where it returns relevant subject librarians in top-level searches.
  • Are there blogs about special collections or distinctive services or expertise, which can be indexed and found on search engines? Are links to relevant special collections or archives created in Wikipedia. Can researchers configure a resolver in Scholar, Mendeley or other services?
  • As attention shifts from collections to services, are library services described in such a way that they are discoverable? On the website? In search engines? Is SEO a routine part of development.
  • Is metadata for resources shared with all relevant services?

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 ConclusionAs research, learning and knowledge creation practices are enacted in technology environments, and are increasingly inseparable from them, libraries are thinking differently about their services and their positioning. The library no longer wants to be a destination, it wants to be an active participant in the networks of people and resources through which scholarly and learning work is done.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [1] The phrase ‘conscious coordination’ was introduced in this context by Brian Lavoie.

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