The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An observation on stores, libraries and IT

I made an observation recently at the ALA meeting during a panel for SPARC/ACRL. It is one I have made before, but this time I have gotten a few comments back, so I thought it might be worth sharing more broadly. Having experience in academic IT, libraries, and college stores, I have observed that these three groups have some very common interests and overlap. There is a challenge to our working together effectively though. That challenge is a conflict in values. Put in its simplest and most sterotypical form, that conflict of values plays out as follows:
- Libraries want to give everything away for free
- IT departments want to control access to everything
- College stores want to charge for everything

These fundamental value differences and stereotypes (based somewhat in reality) make it difficult for these three groups to come together to work on collaborative solutions for the benefit of the whole. The days of stovepipes in higher education must necessarily come to an end, however. That means we must find ways to overcome weaknesses or leverage the opportunities that come from these distinctly different value systems -- and the resulting skills and biases that come with them. As some institutions are finding, there is great advantage to be realized for students in doing so.

Does your campus have a group that meets regularly to discuss the future of digital content on campus? Does that group include the above three stakeholder groups, plus faculty, students, and others? What is your campus strategy for the transition to digital?

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