Posts in category: change

Dr. Carla D. Hayden on the need for constant change in libraries

Skip Prichard

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, for our inaugural meeting of the Americas Regional Council. Nearly 200 attendees from 120 institutions and 36 US states came together to discuss technology trends in libraries.

It seems that everything is changing at a rapid clip. Even our vacuums are texting us and our fitness regimens have become virtual. Not a day goes by when we don’t read about developments that will rock our world—from flying cars to containers that sense they’re nearing empty and order a refill.

Our conference attendees discussed the impact of these changes in society and specifically on libraries. Dr. Carla D. Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress for the United States, opened our conference with an inspiring keynote. If you know Dr. Hayden, you know that I was in the unfortunate situation of having to follow her on the stage.

It was after our presentations that we had a chance to speak about the impact of change on our organizations.

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Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

Saskia Leferink

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Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.

“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.

As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

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Beating Watson at a different game

Eric van Lubeek

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Recently I attended a meeting of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals (KNVI) where an IBM representative demonstrated Watson, the company’s famed supercomputer. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The system can be fed an enormous collection of information and used to support complete knowledge domains or industries.

The demonstration was fascinating as I watched Watson receive and answer questions in natural language about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

As I left the meeting, I wondered what the impact of technology platforms like Watson will have on libraries. Clearly, the use of Watson, with its incredible ability to organize and analyze data, offers endless possibilities that will result in further automation of the information profession. What place will libraries have in a world of Watsons?

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