z687: Creating the Future of Technical Services

Welcome to z687: Creating the Future of Tech Services, the online collection of white papers and think-pieces by ALCTS members for their peers in library technical services.

October 2011

Do Libraries Still Need Book Vendors and Subscription Agents?  | go

By Stephen Bosch, Cory Tucker, Christopher L. Sugnet, and Lauren E. Corbett

Digital content blurs the lines of traditional library acquisition workflows and organization. For example: link resolvers and the loading of order confirmation record files may be handled by systems staff in one organization and by technical services staff in another. Lines are being crossed between acquisitions and interlibrary loan functions, notably with electronic versions of theses and dissertations. Regardless of this blurring of lines, library staff use vendors still in acquiring content for the library collection. The reasons for using vendors have stood for decades, but are changes in the information industry having an impact? In the current environment, what interactions with vendors are most useful to a library?  | more

January 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different: Our Future from Outside the Box

Updated versions of the papers from the Midwinter 2010 Symposium "Our Future from outside the Box" along with a summary of the discussion that took place that day and conclusions that were drawn.

Summary of Discussion during the Midwinter Symposium, with references to the articles.

Reality Dreams: An Inchoate Essay in Three Parts by Peter Brantley
I assume an understanding of the need for significant redefinition of library role and purpose. I believe future library functions should be focused in three primary areas: extending the traditional; data systems support; and space and place.

Collaborate to Innovate by Meredith Farkas
The changes discussed in this essay are only possible if libraries and vendors can collaborate to create solutions that cut across institutional and proprietary boundaries. Focusing on our individual institutions alone will only result in building more silos. Through collaboration, libraries can create powerful change that will improve our users' research experience and increase our overall relevance.

Time Horizon 2020: Library Renaissance by Susan Gibbons
While the last ten years have witnessed a significant reconceptualization of public services, it is technical services and collection development that will be at the center of the next significant phase of library transformation.

In Defense of the Book by Daniel Greenstein
There is a profound (even perverse) irony in the academic library's future. To continue its historic mission—providing persistent access to scholarly information—it will relinquish many of its local operations. As a consequence, the library will fundamentally be transformed so that it may remain the same.

Slacker Libraries: Is Our Past, Our Future? by Thomas C. Leonard
Harper, a great linguist and also a Yale man, recalled the library ca. 1880 at "even the oldest" universities: "So far as it had location, it was the place to which the professor was accustomed to make his way occasionally, the student almost never. It was open for consultation during perhaps one hour a day on three days a week. . . . The librarian—there was none. Why should there have been?"

Attention: A Twenty-First Century Literacy Skill by David M. Levy
It is often observed that science fiction, while purporting to be about the future, is actually a characterization of the present. This is a reminder that prognostications about the future always start with some awareness of present conditions, and proceed either to extrapolate from those conditions or to imagine an alternative. My starting point for these reflections is the growing societal concern, and indeed alarm, over the acceleration of life and the related sense of information overload.

Libraries Should Take Control of Library Technology by Lynne Obrien
To meet library users' expectations for mobility, speed, customization, and connection, libraries need a fundamentally different technology infrastructure. Only by taking responsibility for the design and implementation of their technologies will libraries be able to deliver their resources and services effectively within an increasingly competitive information environment.

Between Now and 2020, Libraries Should . by Stephen Rhind-Tutt
The digital forces affecting libraries are inexorable and getting stronger. They're driven by industries outside our own—such as telecommunications, law, travel, advertising, software, and retailing. Products and services like the iPhone, Amazon.com, e-discovery, and Google drive new innovations and devices and condition all of us to expect more.

Conferring-and Revoking-Scholarly Legitimacy by Dorothea Salo
A distinguished-looking white-haired gentleman raised his hand politely after my talk. "Libraries," he said, in a grave and judicious voice, "are known and valued for their commitment to high-quality, authoritative information. Are we not damaging our reputation when we take anything and everything into institutional repositories?"

Knowledge as Network by David Weinberger
We are rapidly putting the Information Age behind us. Of course we rely on information and the machines that process it more than ever, but information is no longer our culture's dominant metaphor. Networks are. And that will change just about everything about libraries. We just don't know how.