2008 Midwinter Meeting

Risk and Entrepreneurship in Libraries: Seizing Opportunities for Change

an ALCTS Symposium at the 2008 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Friday, January 11, 2008

Libraries of all types and sizes are facing challenges in adapting to the rapidly evolving information environment. The process of change involves a willingness to take risks and may offer opportunities for entrepreneurship. The ALCTS Midwinter symposium will examine risk taking and entrepreneurship in libraries in general, with an emphasis on collections and technical services. Examples of how libraries manage risks and how they engage in appropriate entrepreneurial activities will be provided.

Speakers, Abstracts & Presentations

Marshall Keys (Principal, MDA Consulting) “Entrepreneurship: Seizing and Creating Opportunities for Change”

Keys' Presentation Slides

Abstract: A look at issues in creating change from the practical point of view of an entrepreneur who has created change as a librarian, an academic administrator, and a CEO. The theoretical framework for the talk is behavioral economics, and the topics are:

  1.  Entrepreneurship in existing organizations. Entrepreneurship in not-for-profits.
  2.  Policy, strategy, implementation.
  3.  What to do. What not to do. 
  4. What’s going to go wrong and why. What you can do about it. 
  5. The biggest risk and how you manage it.

Regina Romano Reynolds (Head, National Serials Data Program, Library of Congress)
“Cataloging: Change it, Use it, or Lose It”

Reynolds' Handout

Abstract: Who would have thought that library cataloging could become a risky business? Reynolds will discuss the risks of a business-as-usual approach to cataloging vs. the potential rewards and risks of strategies such as changed cataloging rules and practices (e.g., CONSER standard record, RDA), forward-looking catalogs (e.g., the eXtensible catalog), abandoning MARC, and implementing a national rather than local OPAC (e.g., OCLC local). Recommendations from the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and Web 2.0 innovations such as folksonomies, LibraryThing, and other ways to engage users and harness collective intelligence will also be explored.

Scottie Cochrane (Director of Libraries, Denison University)
“Denison University & Kenyon College Libraries: From Work Redesign to a Merged Tech. Services Department”

Cochrane's Presentation Slides

Abstract: This presentation will give attendees an overview of the four-year work redesign process undertaken by the libraries at Denison and Kenyon to move our technical services operations from autonomous, separate units to a merged department under the leadership of a Kenyon librarian who was hired for this position in 2006. Our original goal was to do more and do it better without increasing the total number of staff. Without a doubt, today’s department is more effective than before in serving constituent needs and desires at our two institutions, and most staff report improved job satisfaction. The triumphs and missteps the libraries have experienced along the way will be shared.

Mike Carroll (Professor, Villanova University School of Law)
“Licenses and the Law: The risks and opportunities”

Articles written by Mike Carroll:

Abstract: Those who acquire and manage collections often must wrestle their way through the brambles of overlapping license terms from vendors and the thorn bushes of copyright law aided only by the unsteady allies of fair use and the public domain as they try to serve their patrons and institutions. This talk will address the roles of copyright law and contract law in assessing the risks and opportunities associated with acquiring, managing, digitizing, and providing access to collections (through, for example, ILL and eReserves). Some attention will be given to the opportunities presented to acquire materials under public licenses, such as Creative Commons licenses.

Joyce Ogburn (University Librarian and Director of the J. Willard Marriott, University of Utah)
“Moderately Risky Business: Challenging Librarians to Assume More Risk in an Era of Opportunity”

Abstract: Libraries will encounter a number of interesting challenges in the coming years, which present opportunities and risks. At present there is an open window of opportunity for participating in the transformation of our users' lives. To raise awareness and stimulate discussion, a series of challenges are presented that pose questions about what's at stake in this transformation. Also explored is how librarians may use risk and entrepreneurship to help us envision and devise a viable future in research, teaching and learning.

Rivkah Sass (Executive Director, Omaha Public Library)
“Warning: When Rowing Forward, This Boat May Rock”

Rivkah's Presentation Slides

Abstract: While the end of libraries as we know them may not be near, it’s getting too close for comfort. Have we conspired with one another and with vendors to hang ourselves out to dry? While the rest of the world is being invited to tag, to participate and to make information more transparent, librarians are still struggling to maintain control, aided and abetted by those who profit from our reluctance to change. This session seeks to be an interactive dialogue about the opportunities librarians need to seize for a viable and vibrant future.