Posts in: February, 2017

Visitors and residents: different roads, different maps

2017-02-21 Visitors and Residents Roads and maps1

“The map is not the territory.”

That phrase is probably the best-known quote of Alfred Korzybski, the famous Polish-American semantic scholar. He was making the seemingly obvious point that the words we use to describe something are not the thing itself. Nor does a description change the thing itself. Why does this matter? Well, the more layers of abstraction we put between ourselves and actual things, the harder it becomes to relate them back to the “nonverbal domain” as he called it. We can fall down a rabbit hole of concepts and constructs that, while interesting, may not be, well…useful.

That’s why, as we’ve spread the word about our “Digital Visitors and Residents” work, I’ve been gratified to see librarians and institutions look at our tools not as clever metaphors or abstractions. Instead, they are using them in a variety of ways to make real, valuable changes in how they interact with their library users and potential users at the point-of-need.

In short, as long as you look up from the map often to take in your surroundings, it can function as a useful guide rather than

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Looking at interlibrary loan, 2016 edition

Christa Starck

Christa ILL titles

Everyone likes reading about lists and trends. I guess it’s part of our natural curiosity to wonder who’s in the top ten and to analyze what direction our culture or profession appears to be headed.

In the case of interlibrary loan (ILL), it’s also a lot of fun! To bibliophiles like me, it’s interesting to look at who’s reading what and which books are the most popular based on our ILL transactions.

The ILL community enjoys the data as well. Last year, the most popular post in the Next blog—based on page views and unique visitors—was the one on ILL trends to watch. And in December, a person on Twitter posted about how eager she was to see what new trends might be revealed in this year’s look at ILL statistics.

Well, here are the latest themes in the interlibrary loan world based on our data. Comparing it with last year, it’s more of the same with one new finding.

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How flexible is your future collection?

Katie Birch

FlexibleFutureCollection-A

You can’t predict the future. But together we can prepare for it.

What attribute of your library is most valuable to your community? For a long time, the answer to that question might have been “our collection.” For generations, libraries have spent much of their budgets on acquiring and managing local materials, but that is shifting. These days, what the library owns isn’t as important as how it supports its users and community. Access to materials must keep up with needs that are changing faster than any one institution can manage.

It is nearly impossible for any one library to hit the moving target of comprehensive access to relevant content. Working together, however, libraries can take advantage of a characteristic that may be the most important for collection access going forward: flexibility.

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