Libraries are good at keeping published scientific and academic works, now they are organising and making accessible the data that has been created in the research process to create those publications. Funding under the Super Science initiative for an Australian Research Data Commons is being directed to the National Library to build a system based on People Australia .
Being able to access and thus re-use and mash-up research data from Australian government organisations and universities will be another step in the information commons that Australia is becoming. With online publishing and archiving, adoption of Creative Commons licences, mass digitization, the growth of academic repositories, recent Open Government initiatives and library created discovery tools we are entering an unprecedented age of information access.
Which leads me back to the previous post which was about falling attendance at UK public libraries.
It is not so very many years ago that the fountain of all wisdom was an encyclopedia in the reference section of a public library. There was literally, unless one was wealthy and owned a set of encyclopedias, no other way that one could find information. Now that reference information and help is available online from libraries, the physical reference section of a public library is often an ill-used and out-dated space as are the books within it.
As librarians we are good at building or having built for us systems that allow access. But access to information is not something that libraries need to worry about so much anymore. So what shall we become good at now?
More and more, I find that the library profession’s efforts to stay relevant in the age of information technology are in fact eroding our relevance. As a result of these efforts, it is becoming less and less clear what we offer that is different from what everybody else offers in the information economy. The reason is that our response to change around us has mostly been to repress those aspects of librarianship that are not directly reflected in new technological tools that other people claim as their domain more securely than we do. We keep saying that as librarians we are web designers, information architects, web searchers, information scientists, user experience experts, and on and on, when each of those things is already a profession filled with people who make a stronger claim to it than we do. What we can claim is librarianship, yet most people – not only outside but within the profession – have forgotten what that consists of other than “books.” – Rory Litwin LibrayJuice blog
Oh and what shall we fill that old reference area with? I think we need more library staff to fill up that space, imagine a library with lots of staff who were both knowledgeable and with an ability to communicate with people!