Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Library of the Future Debate - JISC, Oxford , 2nd April, 2009

The Library of the Future
On 2nd April, 2009 , JISC, the UK The Joint Information Systems Committee, held a debate in Oxford on the Library of the Future. It has some compelling sessions. They also ran a parallel Second Life session, organised a blogging tag, and of course ran a Twitter tag around the session. Details and video on all this is here. Or watch it in pieces below.

Chris Batt
Given his association with both New Zealand and Australia, I was particularly interested in the contribution from Chris Batt, ex CEO of MLA, and, inter alia, the godfather of the UK Peoples Network.

Public Library SWOT analysis
As his contribution to the debate he gives a really good SWOT analysis of the future for the public library.

Among the strengths he emphasises the continuing strength of the public library brand and the popularity of the public library.

On the weakness side he continues to peg away at the ongoing risk from local and national fragmentation, as well as offering a concern as to the ongoing lack of strategic leadership, perhaps as a consequence of the sheer number of people and organisations trying to offer this.

On opportunities he speaks to the potential of the librarian as a knowledge management agent.

Demonstrate [ as opposed to provide] public value
As to threats - he emphasises three things: the ongoing inability of the UK library sector to demonstrate [as opposed to provide] public value : a lack of national coherence - and a failure to plan for a changing world.

The Australasian comparison
I think all this strikes a chord in the NZ situation - and, for that matter Australia. I would be interested in hearing peoples comments - do they agree with this analysis, especially around demonstrating public value?

Obviously this little preci isn't enough - you need to listen to the whole presentation to feel the way he integrates each of the points.

National voice?
Nevertheless I think there is enough provocation even in this simple summary to ask, what for instance could be the role of the new Association of Public Library Managers around fragmentation - leadership - and demonstrating public value.

Is there a space here for LIANZA here? and if so, what are the current plans?

Changes to local government structure [s]
In particular, given the huge changes heading towards the Auckland region, and the probable follow on in terms of other regional amalgamation strategies, it feels like time for the NZ Library world, and their associations of interest to be doing some heavy lifting around the public library sector demonstrating public value etc?

In short, I think the Chris Batt presentation should be compulsory viewing for anyone of the NZ public library sector?


Sue's blog said...

As usual Chris stretches the thinking around the future of the public library and the public librarian. Medium term futures for NZ public libraries have the same issues - demonstrating public value, living locally, acting nationally and thinking globally, and leadership to engage the debate at the right level, and the right tables. Meantime the punters do continue to come in the doors - both physical and online.

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