This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Digital Awareness

There is a very interesting read that appears in today's Library Journal. The article begins with a quick glimpse of the pace of technological advances or changes in libraries over the past decade. It then turns to a call to step back and consider the social and organizational implications of technological innovation on the library profession. A quote from the end of the first paragraph captures the spirit of the piece:
We need to take a step back and consider how librarians in the last decade have found themselves on the fast track from the sequestered content villas of subscription databases to the sprawling information architecture of our new socially networked digital environment.

Once again, college stores and libraries may find that they have more in common than they realized. Both organizations are facing changes that are related to changes in content and technology. Both organizations are looking at new innovations and wondering how they will be affected beyond the technological levels. Both organizations are in the process of redefining themselves and their futures. Those stores and libraries not considering these challenges ought to start thinking about trading in their ostriches.

For stores, the article has some educational value in helping us understand our librarian peers. The early section describing the metadata challenge sets the stage for challenges we are just starting to address. More importantly, the article gives us some insight into how different libraries approach the topic of collaboration. Since both stores and libraries have much to gain through collaboration, understanding these different collaborative models could be helpful in building a relationship. The same can probably be said of being able to identify which model applies to the libraries on a particular store's campus.

The three models the article identifes are the "competitive isolationists," the "exclusionary collaborateurs," and the "free mashups and crossovers." Described as sitting across a spectrum, the first group is about self-interest, the second about "group-interest," and the third about "other-interest" or perhaps "open access." Reading the descriptions of each, I can see stores within our industry that might fit within a similar classification model.

The article concludes with recommendations that libraries "must take even greater advantage of the hugely popular international social networking sites as tools for collaboration." It further notes that:
As we travel outside the comfortable borders we have become used to, it is important to realize that there are opportunities in change. If you take the time to intuit where you fit in this metadata continuum, you just might find a way to help create a more peaceful, equitable, and ethically sound future. The choice is yours, however, whether this will be as a competitive isolationist, an exclusionary collaborateur, or a free mashup and crossover. It is up to librarians to achieve a higher awareness by looking past the technology toward the future social and political potential that should be the real destination of our journey.

Important messages for stores as well as libraries. Do you know where you and your store sit on the spectrum? How open are you to collaborating and sharing information with other stores? With other constituents and industries? Do you have a success story you could share about building a relationship with a campus library or other group to share knowledge or information, or to work on a collaborative opportunity?

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