Lots of conversation at Internet Librarian International about Library 2.0, most of it highly enthusiastic. We should all be embracing this, evangelizing this, say folks like Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine, Phil Bradley, and Brian Kelly. Second day keynote speaker Greg Notess brought a note of skepticism to the party. Not that he disagrees with Library 2.0, it’s just that he wants us to consider the user. Are Library 2.0 technologies always the most appropriate ones? Sometimes they most definitely are, but he urged us not to forget about our traditional skills. We need to add new skills on top of the old ones, not replace them.
Internet Librarian International 2006 started off with London School of Economics Professor Danny Quah talking about the economics of publishing. OK, that wasn’t exactly what I asked him to address, he was supposed to talk more about the knowledge glut and the weightless economy, but it’s interesting to hear from an academician who writes the scholarly literature rather than the librarians who buy the scholarly literature. One of his points was that technology advances should reduce the cost of publishing, but these reductions are not passed on to consumers. When it comes to the knowledge glut, he asked if information is viewed purely as an economic commodity, what is the special nature of both knowledge and librarians? Where is the wealth creation? And how do we convince policy makers that the knowledge glut and the value of information professionals is an important issue? We have markets in disequilibrium, which affects the greater social good. There’s a paradox between individuals living within society and the operation of that society itself. If something goes sufficiently wrong, system does not automatically repair itself. This unhappy set of circumstances is why there’s knowledge glut, according to Quah. The supply of information has exploded and much is cheap and abundant, but traditional for-profit publishers continue to raise prices so that researchers in third world countries can’t afford it. Quah cites Kenya as one example.
There was a lot to think about in this talk. Quah isn’t a motivational speaker, he’s a professor of economics. But he cares deeply about defining the digital divide in economic terms that will frame the issues of the knowledge glut in terms that governments can understand.
“The heritage organisations involved in the “History Matters – pass it
on” campaign are asking every UK resident to take part in a mass blog
event, which will record how we lived on one single day: Tuesday, 17th
October 2006. The aim is to create a massive electronic treasure chest
of diaries showing everyday life at the beginning of the 21st century,
to be kept as a social history archive by the British Library. The date
is chosen deliberately as an ordinary Tuesday, with no national
importance. But with your help, it will become truly “One Day in
History”: by logging on to historymatters.org.uk and taking part in this
mass blog everyone will be contributing something valuable to the
historic record a fascinating resource for future generations to
explore. Uploading can be done until 31 October 2006″
So I hope all the UK bloggers at ILI contribute to this, so we can memorialize both the conference and how important and influential all internet librarians are in daily life!
Masterclasses for Internet Librarian International were yesterday. It’s always tough to get people to come to a continuing education event on Sundays, particularly Sunday mornings, but Jane Macoustra and I managed to attract a small audience for our masterclass on business information and sources. It amazed me that amongst us, we represented three continents and yet, each person in the room had a connection with another person in the room. For example, I knew an American librarian that the delegate from UAE had worked with in UAE. Another British delegate had met Jane at an SLA Europe function. All those “one degree of separation” (no sixes for this group!)relationships made for a truly wonderful educational experience with none of the reticence that sometimes marks these events outside the US.
In fact, Michael and Jenny, who were doing their masterclass on Conversation, Community, Connections and Collaboration, complained there was too much laughter coming from our room. Sorry, guys.
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals
Technorati tag: ILI2006