"Rightscaling, Engagement, Learning" Slides Address Challenges Libraries Face in Network Environment

The network continues to reconfigure personal and organizational relationships. This presentation by Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC's Vice President, Research and Chief Strategist, looks at the three important challenges libraries face in this environment.

  1. Rightscaling infrastructure
    Libraries were predominantly "institution-scale"—they provided services at the level of the institution for their local users. However, their users now look to the network for information services (e.g., Google Scholar, Wikipedia…). And libraries now look to the network to collaborate or to externalize services (e.g., HathiTrust, cloud-based discovery or systems, shared systems infrastructure…). In this environment the need for local infrastructure declines (e.g., extensive print collections, redundantly deployed local systems which provide necessary but not distinctive services). The scale advantage manifests itself in both impact and efficiency. This creates interesting service and organizational questions for libraries.

  2. The shift to engagement
    Users used to build their workflows around libraries. Now the library needs to build services around user workflows, as those workflows move into a network environment. Libraries used to acquire and organize "published" materials. Now they are engaged with the full range of creation, management and disclosure of learning and scholarly resources. Library spaces were configured around print collections; now they are configured around experiences, expertise, and specialist facilities. These are all examples of how libraries are reallocating resource and effort to engage more strongly with the learning and research lives of their users, improving the learning experience and making research more productive and research outputs more visible.

  3. Institutional innovation
    Innovation is important, especially to support greater engagement. But in many ways the most important form of innovation is institutional. Libraries have to develop new and routine ways of collaborating to achieve their goals. At the same time they have to negotiate internal boundaries and forge new structures within institutions. In each case, they are developing new "relationship architectures." Think, for example, of the institutional innovation required to move to shared systems and collections in the Orbis Cascade Alliance or 2CUL. Or think of the innovative approach which makes new relationships within institutions (with Learning and Teaching Support, with the Office of Research, the University Press, emerging e-research infrastructure, IT, etc., for example, or with various educational or social services in a public setting). Evolving such relationships requires an enterprising approach and ensures continual learning.

Lorcan Dempsey presented these “Rightscaling, engagement, learning: reconfiguring the library for a network environment” slides in his keynote on 10 April at The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA) Australasia 2013 conference in Hobart, Tasmania (AU). They are available for download (.pptx: 6.5MB/57 slides) from the OCLC Research website and for viewing on SlideShare. In addition, a video (55:10) of Lorcan's presentation is also available online.

THETA Australasia is an event held every two years with the aim of advancing higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The conference is unique in that it attracts a comprehensive range of practitioners and senior decision makers across the whole spectrum of Information Technology, Teaching and Learning, Library and Knowledge Management in tertiary education.

For more information:

Lorcan Dempsey
Vice President, Research, and Chief Strategist

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research


Related links:

Lorcan Dempsey's "Rightscaling, engagement, learning: reconfiguring the library for a network environment" presentation

THETA Australasia 2013

Lorcan Dempsey's bio page

OCLC Research presentations page

OCLC Research on SlideShare