What’s the next step in innovation for libraries?

14 Jun

Today someone asked me to “describe what would be a brave, bold step in your library? What changes would you propose to increase innovation?”.

Now i knew I was a little more cynical and jaded than 5 years ago, but I really couldn’t think of anything. For someone who spends as much time looking for challenges (or whinging about what should change as some would say) that’s a surprise.

Not so long ago I would have had an instant list:

Get rid of the webopac and have a single search box. 
However my wonderful library systems colleague has just introduced me to the idea of ubiquitous discovery, and how we should have all paths leading to our content, as the internet is so broad we cannot imagine all the ways people may want to choose to approach.
On a side note here: I fell into a day dream of the internet as a ocean, and our content as an island, and library information staff as Border Control police trying to say webopac access was shut and if you were on that boat you had to turn around.

Burn down the old unused material in my offsite store. 
However we currently have enough storage for the next few years, and the pressure is off. I can now value that fact that our Mills & Boon collection (the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere I believe) has led to 3 PhD’s, and that one of our current history professors is assessing his students knowledge through asking them to read old VCE history texts and write what has changed in historical writing. That value changes over time.


Buy hundreds of copies of our textbooks so every student can access one
Now I fear that if I do that publishers will truly never have the financial pressure to actually move to a new model of electronic textbook publishing. One where we can actually buy multiple copies of electronic textbooks without having to issue individual electronic keys.

Other pet peeves have happened now – like forced information literacy classes replaced by online context specific help; endless racks of shelving replaced by creative study spaces between the books; queues replaced by self checkout machines; RSI generators replace by self checkin machines; artists in libraries (see http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/about-us/artist-residence-program and die of jealousy).

So now I wonder what I would wish for?

Perhaps a giant UX lab as a translucent walled pyramid in the middle of the library. Where students can read about usability on their research and get involved.

Perhaps a Victorian College of the Arts student run mural on the regularly vandalised wall of my offsite store, painted by students from the secondary college across the wall (and hence hopefully fully aware of the local graffiti artists and able to tell them to keep their hands off the mural).

Definitely a better interface for agreed resource sharing schemes, so that students could do a single search for an item and be told where they can order it from.

Perhaps truly fun collaborative play in our library, such as a vampire skin on the library catalogue.

What would you do if you were being brave and bold in your library space? 

Or for those as old as me “The Bold and The Beautiful” …






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