"Transforming Traditional Libraries": A great way to end a week

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     Last Friday, Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian at McMaster University in Canada, came to Penn State to give a talk which was sponsored by our Colloquia Committee.  FYI, the purpose of the Libraries' Colloquia Committee is "to organize an annual series of lectures or seminars on topics that encourage dialogue about the issues, trends, and developments in librarianship and higher education."  His talk was called, "Transforming Traditional Libraries." When we asked Jeff to talk, we asked him to be provocative, and he was, so thanks, Jeff, for engendering great discussion both at Penn State and beyond.

In an excellent discussion that morning with some of our subject library heads and our Content Stewardship Council, Jeff talked about the changes that he's made at MacMaster.  Everything he's done has been done for the students and faculty.  He's created better spaces in the library for the students. Librarians and staff have been redeployed to where they're most needed, according to their student-centered strategies.  He's also brought in CLIR fellows to work on specific projects and they're doing excellent work.  I'm not surprised because all the CLIR fellows I've met have been terrific.   22,000 students daily use the MacMaster Libraries out of a 25,000 student population.  Hearing that made me want to go and check our numbers!

     He also talked about the need for LIS educators to listen to the needs of pracitioners.  I might be putting words in his mouth, but that was how I interpreted his comments. 

     But we also need skills from other professions.  We need project managers (I heard that today in a meeting from a librarian) and we need technologists.  Our colleagues in Digital Library Technologies, Teaching and Learning with Technologies, and in other technology units at Penn State are terrific.  They are our partners. For example, our Curation Architecture Prototype Services Team is doing some transformative work developing  "a prototype service-oriented architecture consisting of a web application for ingest and management of digital objects and a service platform providing atomistic curation functions (microservices)"  Around the table on that team are a digital collections curator (a librarian and a former CLIR fellow), a digital library architect (a technologist and a librarian), a developer, a metadata librarian, a project manager, and a librarian from Special Collections.  Each of them brought a wealth of skills to the table and the solutions outlined in their report substantiate the importance of having people who have all types of skills sets to provide services to students and faculty in the 21st century and I think that's what Jeff was talking about in his talk on Friday. 

     I believe that libraries need a variety of people with diverse skill sets in order to meet the needs of students and faculty.  We are strong advocates of diversity at the Penn State University Libraries and that has many meanings.  It means we respect our colleagues, respect differences of opinion, and respect the idea that a diverse library staff makes us stronger.  We work in academia where we're supposed to be searching for answers, valuing diverse opinions, and where my solutions aren't necessarily your solutions. 

     Jeff, thanks for sparking such a great discussion and giving us a lot to think about.

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MICHAEL FURLOUGH Author Profile Page said:

Nice comments, and I'm in agreement.

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