Posts in: June, 2018

What is “container collapse” and why should librarians and teachers care?

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In 2004, OCLC published Information Format Trends: Content, Not Containers. In the context of this study, “container” meant physical media:

More than ever, content consumers are “format agnostic” in that they do not care much what sort of container—such as a book, journal, blog, or a Web page—the content comes from… For libraries and content sellers, this means the processes of acquisition, organization, and delivery of content need to change to accommodate the expectations of our communities.

In today’s smartphone world, when all of our media can be scrunched down into one device, we face what the research team calls container collapse (#containercollapse). The visual context and cues that print containers provide used to help individuals identify a document’s origins and measure its value. These cues are now obscured or more difficult to discern. In digital format, a document is decanted from its original container and must be carefully examined to determine the journey it took to reach the individual. As knowledge professionals, we care deeply about the origin and authority of the content our users and communities consume.

And guess what? Students care, too!

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Sometimes, to change anything … you have to change everything

Greta Southard

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Change management is never easy, that’s why it’s often tackled in bite-size chunks. To be successful, it has to be intentional and collaborative. And for a public library, defining change can’t just depend on the director’s vision. It has to belong to the entire organization and be driven by the needs of the community.

We recently wrapped up the challenging—but energizing—task of developing a detailed strategic plan. This was a first step in changing the way we do business. We’ll still do many of the same things we’ve always done, but our perspective has shifted to place the customer firmly in the center of everything we do.

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Three things librarians wanting to engage with Wikipedia should think about first

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Wikipedia is big. Maybe not googol big, but 5.4+ million articles in English is up there. The platform is the fifth-most accessed website globally, and billions of edits have been saved since the online encyclopedia launched in 2001.

Though most librarians have read Wikipedia articles and work with patrons who use it regularly, few librarians actually edit Wikipedia. There are good reasons libraries need Wikipedia, and vice versa. So how could you get started with Wikipedia at your library?

One way to get a handle on something big is to start small. That’s what I’ve been learning from public library staff in my role as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence for the past 16 months, which included interviewing public library staff and teaching a nine-week online training program.

Here are three surprisingly simple things about Wikipedia that public library staff involved with the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project say their peers and colleagues should know.

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