The Library as Laboratory
This year’s ACRL/NY symposium was excellent: very professional, personable, and inspiring. Keynote speaker Susan Gibbons emphasized a theme that echoed in all following presentations: the importance of providing excellent library services. At Yale University, an example for such service is the personal librarian for students. The discussion panel, led by Barbara Rockenbach, focused on the meaning of lab culture for Digital Humanities. Support for digital scholarship and collaborative work at Columbia University was pointed out by Bob Scott. Jennifer Vinopal and Monica McCormick discussed NYU’s Digital Scholarship Services. Jefferson Bailey from METRO Strategic Initiatives talked about innovative and collaborative internships in METRO area institutions. Collaboration and openness were two other keywords that shaped the discussions. Ben Vershbow from NYPL Labs introduced cross-collaboration in projects using open civic data and geospatial maps. Adam Rogers demonstrated the great value of creativity-promoting spaces by showing 3D printing projects made in the Hunt Library of NCSU.
Tom Scheinfeldt concluded the conference with a more critical view of the digital developments and networks in relation to libraries. While the idea of the internet is to transmit data openly and to put the center of the computer into the end-users’ hands and their communities (working with open resource management or archiving systems such as Omeka), vendors or proprietary software providers centralize that type of knowledge. Scheinfeldt expressed concern that too much knowledge may become centralized by proprietary apps or vendors. However, his hope is that libraries and the DPLA can keep up the “end-user to end-user” principle by creating more responsive websites, preferring in-house-solutions versus clouds, and openly linking collections on the web.
For my personal career trajectory, it was incredibly helpful to be exposed to concrete information from experienced academic and research librarians and to see how dynamic and responsive libraries and librarians are, and need to be. This conference led me to next steps that include talking to more librarians, getting more involved, thinking about how to create makerspaces related to music, taking courses on digital curation or preservation, making more use of open source software, and learning to further develop my skills. It was wonderful to exchange ideas with experienced participants.
- Excellent library services benefit everyone and increase the value of the library.
- Libraries are active knowledge hubs and places for the development of ideas and creativity.
- Talking about libraries and making libraries visible is a good thing (“prepare your elevator speech”).
- Libraries can become the flagship and a central attraction of an institution.
- And finally, libraries are a little like people: if they want to move forward and be successful, they need to interact (see and listen to what’s out there, respond to their users’ needs, provide space, time, and resources, have a profile, and be adaptive and dynamic).
Juliette Appold, Rutgers University
Juliette Appold is pursuing an MLIS degree at Rutgers University, specializing in Digital Libraries. She holds a PhD in musicology, an MA in musicology and French, an Education Degree, and a Bachelor of Music.