Sunday, August 14, 2005

HBCU Library Alliance

Yesterday (Saturday, August 13), I had the opportunity to speak at the opening session of the Leadership Institute of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance. The theme of the institute, which will go on through this coming Wednesday, is "Redefining Library Leadership for the 21st Century." The agenda features a number of discussions on understanding one's environment, working with your stakeholders, and moving from campus utility to campus player (although it isn't described exactly this way in the agenda!)

After doing my spiel on the OCLC E-Scan, we broke into small group discussions, and the questions that came out of the small groups seemed to crystalize the key issues for libraries in the coming years:
  • Why doesn't the OCLC report deal with the digital divide? This is a key issue facing libraries of all types.
  • What about the digital divide between and among generations, especially as represented by the gamers vs. the non-gamers?
  • What is the role of the library when information becomes a commodity?
  • How will disaggregation of information sources and delivery affect libraries?
  • How can libraries make their special collections available in a way that allows them to reap some benefit from them (as opposed to commercial vendors getting the benefit)?
  • How can libraries integrate more closely with the academic units on their campuses?
  • How do we develop lifelong information literacy in our students?
All great questions. It's times like this that I wish I really were some sort of library guru who could provide great answers. But the best answers are the ones we develop and agree to as a community, right? As Bob Dylan would say, "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters..." (At least I think that's what he said. Who can understand him?)

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