LIBRARY & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
As the recently appointed manager of information services for a new voluntary sector organisation established to carry out a resource and coordinating function in a medium-sized town along with the practical support of two full-time assistants who will soon be appointed to support the work that is to be undertaken it has proved necessary to write a report to the management committee. With this in mind, as will be seen this report has involved recommending strategies for - (a) ensuring the quality of the information that is provided; (b) facilitating access to information in a variety of formats to meet individual needs; (c) determining the level and scope of this kind of differing service provision; and (d) looking to work in partnership with local residents and other information providers on a local and regional basis with particular reference to the potential creation of an electronic community network. To this effect, such strategies will then be shown to be founded on the recognition of a series of short, medium and long-term objectives in the report by demonstrating awareness and understanding of the issues involved in managing and organising community information services and how they may be best resolved.
To begin with it is to be appreciated that, particularly in recent years, people are increasingly using the Internet and digital library facilities to be able to gather and retrieve the data that they require for their work, education or even as a matter of personal interest so that there is a need to not only provide access to a variety of information but also show an appreciation of its common focus. This is because it needs to be understood that the growing use of digital libraries by those seeking information for a variety of purposes has impacted significantly upon the average person's use of physical libraries. By way of illustration, between 2002 and 2004 the average American academic library saw its overall number of transactions decline by approximately 2.2% (Applegate, 2008, at pp.176-189), whilst the University of California Library System saw a 54% decline in circulation between 1991 to 2001 of 8,377,000 books to 3,832,000 (see University of California Library Statistics 1990-91 (July 1991) at p.12 & University of California Library Statistics (July 2001), at p.7). On this basis, it is arguable such changes have been influenced by the increased availability of e-resources with, for example, between 1999-2000 105 Association of Research Libraries spent almost $100 million on electronic resources - an increase of nearly $23 million from the year before (Association of Research Libraries, 2001), whilst the Open E-book Forum found in 2003 around a million e-books had been sold in 2002 generating a revenue of around $8 million (Striphas, 2009).
The reason for such dramatic changes is founded on the undergraduate students evolving research habits that have developed over time at both colleges and universities with many having come to favour retrieving information from the Internet because of its increasing ease of use and efficiency when compared to the time taken to go through a single book. By way of illustration, a survey that was undertaken by NetLibrary found that around 93% of students believe finding information online makes more sense than resorting to a more traditional library search since it is is more time consuming and convenient (Troll, 2009). The problem with this approach to reasearch and finding information, however, is that whilst this kind of information retrieval may be more efficient than a visit to a local library, it has been shown undergraduate students are commonly using only 0.03% of the Internet's available resources (Troll, 2009). In addition, there is also a need to recognise that although the information retrieved on the Internet is easy to retrieve and readily available, the information that the Internet provides can often prove to lack the depth of information available in books at a traditional library.
Problems in this regard are then only exacerbated where those coming to the library for information are unaware of how to effectively use the available library resources that is not helped by many people's discomfort with seeking the assistance of members of staff who they do not know. Unfortunately shyness for some people can proved difficult to overcome so that it is incumbent upon staff to look to make the process easier wherever they are possibly able to do so by presenting a welcoming and sociable approach to their work that is somewhat different to that of the stereotypical strict librarian warning all and sundry to be quiet. With this in mind, as well as going up to people and seeing if they require assistance (which could be a time consuming task when the library is particularly busy) there is a need to show some thought to the way in which content and access to facilities is displayed otherwise their usefulness will be significantly limited. As a result, in an effort to better assist those coming to a public library for information in the US since the beginning of the nineteenth century a system of 'library instruction' through 'information literacy' by telling those coming to the library what materials are available in their collections and how to then be able to access it.
However, in order to achieve sufficient 'information literacy' (i.e. what is needed for an intelligent citizen to participate effectively in a library environment) of those coming to the library for information there will still also be a need to recognise the differing skill levels of people looking to use the facilities (Grassian, 2004). By way of example, there will be need to be aware that many people may still favour the use of the card catalogue system that serves to identify books and other materials on particular subjects having grown up using that system with the advancement of infomration technology having passed them by (Doty, 2003). Therefore, in view of the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the Internet, electronic catalogue databases (i.e. an online public access catalogue) are now commonly used by library services it is now possible to search a library anywhere where there is Internet access. This is because many believe that the traditional card catalog system was both easier to navigate and allowed for retention of information, by writing directly on the cards, that is lost in the electronic systems in view of the fact that there is still a need to revert to the physical means of finding information (Doty, 2003).
Even then, however, it must still be understood that it is still upon the individual researcher to physically go and locate the materials that they are looking for that can be more difficult than it may appear on the face of it (Lorenzen, 2001). Put simply just because the computer system tells the individual undertaking research that a particular resource is in stock, stored in a particular location and available for use does not mean it will actually be there on the shelf where it is meant to be (Doty, 2003). All manner of circumstances may have transpired to cause problems with the materials retrieval because it could - (a) have accidentally been placed somewhere else; (b) be in the process of being fixed because of constant use; or (c) even have been stolen or taken out of the library without being checked out through the proper procedure. Therefore, it is clear that there has been a significant move away from the conventional functions of libraries to collect, process, disseminate, store and retrieve information to provide better services (Subramanian, 2007). In the digital environment, libraries roles are changing to provide their users with a significant competitive advantage by most effectively utilising its staff's information knowledge to then be able to better serve the user community (Subramanian, 2007). As a result, through the ongoing development of information technology and its applications in libraries, document management has been changed to information management in libraries like this one that that has started its change towards knowledge management (Subramanian, 2007).
On this basis, with a view to outlining the library's objectives for its establishment of a new voluntary sector organisation to carry out a resource and coordinating function in a medium-sized town along with the practical support of two full-time assistants, the new role of libraries in the twenty-first century must be understood as institutions of learning and knowledge centres for their users. With this in mind, as the learning organisations that they now are libraries should seek to provide a strong leadership with regards to matters of knowledge management and sharing of knowledge with others in the outside world. It is, therefore, incumbent upon librarians to improve their knowledge management in all of the key areas of library services by developing their resources, access and sharing strategies from printed to electronic and digital resources.
At the same time, however, in looking to provide for the recognition of the objectives that are to be undertaken for the development of the library in this case there is also a need to show an appreciation of the limitations that may be placed upon them. By way of illustration, limited funding, technology, staff and space means that it is incumbent upon libraries to look to carefully analyse the needs of their users and to seek to be able to develop cooperative acquisition plans to meet the needs of as many potential users as possible. To this effect, libraries should seek to develop and maintain an integrated online public access catalogue with both internal and external resources as well as printed and a variety of other formats of knowledge. On this basis, there is a need for librarians to look to utilise useful websites and knowledge sources that were regularly searched and selected from the internet and included in online public access catalogues through the ongoing reviewing and updating of these resources being performed.
In addition, in response to one of the problems with failing to utlise enough of the information provided through modern library facilities by researching effectively, there is a need to go beyond the recognition of explicit knowledge. This is because there is a need for libraries to look to develop to capture all the tacit knowledge that is considered of particular importance to their users, their organisations, and to the internal operations of libraries. With this in mind, if the library looks to develop a website (surely a significant step) this needs to be a 'portal' for all of the key sources of relevant knowledge and information viable for individual researchers use. This is because, in the current digital and networked knowledge age, the size of information sources on the web is growing exponentially since new web pages are constantly being added every second to the Internet from somewhere in the world. With a view to enhancing the system it is, therefore, arguable that llibraries should look to use the best approach to capture web information possible through cooperative efforts such as that of the 'Dublin Core Metadata' and the Cooperative Online Resources catalogue. Finally, it is also arguable that other methods of collective data collection could be considered to beneficial with data mining, text mining, content management, spidering programs, and semantic networks have also been a significant part of recent developments in knowledge management systems.
In seeking to evaluate what is effective library information management with a view to formulating, short, medium and long-term objectives it is necessary to consider a variety of issues including the - (a) planning of acquisitions; (b) library classification of acquired materials; (c) preservation of materials; (d) deaccessioning of materials; (e) patron borrowing; (f) developing and administering library computer systems; and (g) development and implementation of outreach and reading-enhancement services.
(a) Short-Term Objectives
(b) Medium-Term Objectives
(c) Long-Term Objectives
Having sought to write a report to the management committee as the recently appointed manager of information services for a new voluntary sector organisation established to carry out a resource and coordinating function in a medium-sized town it is clear there is a need to input a staggered strategy to effective information management. This is because
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Applegate. R (2008) ‘Whose Decline? Which Academic Libraries are ‘Deserted' in Terms of Reference Transactions?' 2nd Series 48, Reference & User Services Quarterly 176-189
Grassian. E (2004) ‘Information Literacy: Building on Bibliographic Instruction' 35(9) American Libraries 51-53
Lorenzen. M (2001) ‘The Land of Confusion? High School Students & Their Use of the Web for Research' 18(20 Research Strategies 151-163
Association of Research Libraries (2001) ‘ARL Libraries Spend Nearly $100 Million on Electronic Resources' ARL Bimonthly Report 219, Association of Research Libraries (December)(www.arl.org)
Doty. P (2003) ‘Bibliographic Instruction: The Digital Divide & Resistance of Users to Technologies' (http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~l38613dw/website_spring_03/readings/BiblioInstruction.html)
Subramanian. N (2007) ‘Knowledge & Information Management in Libraries: A New Challenge for the Library & Information Professionals in the Digital Environment' 12 Julho 30-36 (http://library.igcar.gov.in/readit2007/conpro/s1/S1_5.pdf)
Troll. D. A (2009) ‘How & Why are Libraries Changing?' Digital Library Federation, Library Information Technology-Carnegie Melon (http://www.diglib.org/use/whitepaper.htm)
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