It is said that the way to Hell is paved with good intentions, and my good intentions to blog regularly has also ended up on the way to Hell. It is hard to believe that I am almost at the end of the stay here at the Dana Porter Library at the University of Waterloo, and I have only posted once! #epicfail! The intention was to flesh out observations and thoughts on the trends that have stood out …
So what have I been doing in the 7 weeks that I have been here? I ’m based in the Information Resources Services Section of the Dana Porter Library and have been included in the Library Review Advancing Scholarship and Research Working Group. I’ve sat in on research training sessions; attended a pre-ARLIS Conference Workshop on Film Studies; visited the libraries at the University of Guelph and Wilfred Laurier University; had discussions and conversations with individual librarians; tootled off to San Francisco for a mid-programme meeting; and had some thinking space to try to make sense of, and crystalise what I have observed, sharing these observations and ideas with colleagues back home.
So here are some trends that have stood out for me :-
· The repurposing of library space for scholarly and research purposes by moving material to storage (with some really hi-tech automated retrieval system. Together with this, making sure that there is flexibility of library space and furniture. Making the space central to the students’ lives and academic studies by focusing on making the students feel welcome … that the library is their space, and not belonging to the librarians!
· The development of Research Services and Scholarly Communications whether this was stewardship of scholarly digital services (institutional repositories, electronic theses and open access hosting) or providing specialized reference services and support including Data Management Services and Curation. Support for all things data, is new on the academic library horizon here in North America. It is the *hot* topic under discussion everywhere. And it is a conversation that the research libraries in South Africa have to start having sooner rather than later. There are evolving roles for librarians here. The libraries often take the lead on their campuses, working closely with the equivalent of a research office. My intention is to blog more fully about this, so watch this space.
· Digitization of collections whether this is outsourced or sponsored or run in-house - Digital Humanities is the area that is getting much attention
· The importance of Assessment kept coming up, particularly during the first three weeks of the Illinois visit.
· Consortia. I am impressed by the way consortia works here in Canada - the power and support that is provided for research services. We need to look at leveraging the power and support that our current library consortia provide (or don’t provide). But that is a whole another posting.