Monday, March 21, 2011

What Are Asian Special Libraries Doing?

The Second International Conference of Asian Special Libraries (ICoASL) was held in Tokyo, Japan on Feb. 10-12, 2011. The conference theme was "Building User Trust: The Key to special libraries renaissance in the digital era." 170 delegates from the United States, China, Japan, India, Singapore, Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Iran and Indonesia attended the conference.

This was a great opportunity for librarians and information professionals all over the world to communicate, share and learn from each other. Anne Caputo the 2010 SLA president gave a keynote talk "Living in the new normal: global trends all knowledge professionals should understand." Anne is Executive Director of Dow Jones' Learning & Information Professional Programs. Her talk focused on 6 new trends of the information world-globalization, distressed economies, disinter-mediation, invasion of millennials, disruptive technologies and condensed competition. Librarians need to explore the meaning of these global trends and ways that can prepare us to advance our roles and strategic importance within our organizations.

Dr. Xiaolin Zhang, the director of the National Science Library, Chinese Academy of Science, shared how the national library has transformed its services and its organizational make-up into a user-based, problem-solving-driven, customized, knowledge-based service cloud. In order to strengthening its collaborative resource systems and integrated network-based service systems, the national library remodeled users services into "house-librarian" mechanism embedded into research frontlines and hard-binding "team information analyst" system embedded into R&D decision making processes, together with a re-shift into development of user-side information systems. These reformations enable the library to respond to researchers' requests promptly.

From the perspective of user satisfaction, Jin Xiu Guo, a Metadata Librarian at Washington College, Maryland, USA presented a research on geomatics faculty's research behavior and library use at Wuhan University, China. The survey disclosed that the library was still the major source of professional document gathering. The geomatics faculty preferred electronic journals and international conference proceedings in their teaching and research. The survey results also gave suggestions on how to improve the collection development to better serve geomatics faculty.

Xin Li, a Assistant University Librarian for Strategic Initiatives at Cornell University also demonstrated how Cornell University Libraries established international partnership as a solution for meeting user needs.

The conference published the proceedings on CD-ROM, and will make all proceedings free available on ICoASL 2011 website.

Monday, September 20, 2010

CALA 21st Century Librarian Seminar Series, Shanxi University III

Many database and ILS vendors have made their products available on mobile devices, such as EBSCOhost, WilsonWeb, IEEEXplore, WorldCat, SerialsSolution Summon, Innovative AirPac, and RefWorks have provided mobile search interface. Libraries try to offer easier access to information at the tip of user's finger. The participants have shown a great interest in the application of mobile technology in libraries.

Many participants commented that their libraries also face the challenge of managing diversified resources and try to keep the balance of print and electronic resources. In the USA, the collection development is based on curriculum and program requirements, as well as user needs. Each library has its own policy to acquire print and electronic resources. There is no standard to evaluate the appropriate proportion of different types of collections. But we noticed that ACRL started to collect data of new e-books and e-theses in digital repository a few years ago. So we suggested that libraries in China should share resources in a certain way to relieve the burden of fund shortness. For instance, the California state universities share database subscription fees among the libraries in the state system with appropriate proportion of money based on the potential users at each school. For small libraries, a consortium will be the group to join and share those skyrocketing journal prices.

Chinese librarians were also eager to know about library fundraising. Most libraries are funded by the central government through their parent institutions. However, most libraries want to explore new projects, for example, digitizing a puppetry collection. A library has to find a way to initiate the project. While library fundraising is very common in the USA, especially for independent schools. Our American colleague gave a great talk on this topic and answered their questions on how to possibly raise money for their projects.

Three-days forum is never enough for those young Chinese professionals to seek solutions for their work or satisfy their thirst for knowledge, but it is a good start. With the development of new technology, scholarly communication finds its way across countries. People learn from each other when they start to communicate, this is what we are doing now and what we will do in the future.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CALA 21st Century Librarian Seminar Series, Shanxi University II

I was so surprised to see many young librarians and library directors in the seminar. It is normal to see many senior librarians in the United States, but, definitely, not in China. Once you were in that atmosphere, you would be deeply moved by those young professionals' curiosities.

Young Chinese librarians are specially interested in emerging technologies, new library services and electronic collection development. Only state university libraries have developed institutional repositories, and also run into the challenge of recruiting high quality contents. Some science librarians offer patent search to their senior undergraduate and graduate students, but not intensively and systematically teach patent search skills. It was unexpected to get a few good questions on patent search, e.g. how to use patent classification to search and how scientific information literacy is taught in the USA.

Currently, there four billions mobile subscribers in the world and two-thirds of them live in the developing countries. China is a huge market for mobile service. Mobile computing is a hot topic, although the service hasn't been offered to students in China yet. My American colleague gave a great overview on the application of mobile computing in American academic libraries. Young Chinese librarians were so excited about the current practices in the USA, such as, provide library services through mobile devices; access e-resources via iphone, smartphone and ipad.

Monday, August 9, 2010

CALA 21st Century Librarian Seminar Series, Shanxi University I

Chinese American Librarians Association and Shanxi University held the seminar at Shanxi University on May 24-26 2010. In an effort to address emerging issues in the 21st century libraries, speakers introduced their best practices and discussed the most appropriate solutions for these issues.

The team was made up of experienced librarians from seven different public and private academic libraries in the United States including the president of American Library Association, Dr. Camila Alire. Topics included current trends in American academic libraries, digital libraries, cooperative collection development, information literacy and electronic resources management. Librarians and library directors from Dalian, Hangzhou, Beijing, Qingdao, Taiyuan etc. participated the forum.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scholarly Communication

I haven't been in my blog for a while. My travel abroad and several projects have taken most of my time. On one side, I feel so grateful to those who consistently read my blog and give me suggestions; on the other side, I need to figure out how to best communicate with readers and expand what we are interested as an information professional, as well as a librarian.

I will talk about my recent China trip and scholarly communication with young Chinese academic librarians in my next few sessions. Hopefully, my experience can lead us to think about how librarians do things differently in U.S. and China.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who Should Create Metadata for Online Submissions in DSpace II?

What happens at small academic/research libraries? At some libraries, metadata librarians or archivists create metadata for a variety of collections if metadata standards have been established. However, this is not only a huge amount of work, but also needs professionals to do the job. Today, to facilitate metadata creation, metadata librarians are seeking for batch loading or auto-generated metadata to provide access to digital contents with the benefit of technologies. This is an emerging challenge for Metadata or Digital Initiative Librarians. When libraries migrate a collection to a new platform, batch loading metadata for the collection is more efficient and effective, especially if the collection is not created from the scratch. This also needs metadata librarians to map metadata in one system to those in another with their expertise.

Some people think the library can use students or paraprofessionals to do the job. I would say Yes and No. As you might notice, the purpose of metadata creation is to let users easily find the information they need. If a person doesn't understand the philosophy of the information retrieval, how can he/she know to create the right access for users? However, if metadata librarians can set up some procedures, teach them some of the processes, then they would be a great help to metadata librarians. For instance, if metadata librarians set up batch loading form, students or paraprofessionals will prepare the basic metadata form first, then metadata librarians can work on the form and batch load metadata into DSpace.

Therefore, there is no rules for this. Librarians should allocate tasks with the collaboration of the personnel in the libraries. The bottom line is to facilitate metadata creation for digital collections.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who Should Create Metadata for Online Submissions in DSpace I?

Since the Miller Library started to deposit seniors theses in the college digital repository DSpace in 2007, librarians have been wondering who is the appropriate person to create metadata for theses. Ideally, metadata librarians can do this with best knowledge they have. However, most submitted theses need original cataloging. Usually, there is only one metadata /cataloging librarian in a small academic or research library to do this type of original work. The amount of electronic theses received by the library each year is far beyond what a metadata librarian can handle in a timely manner. Especially, the metadata librarian has to design metadata models for different types of electronic collections, and facilitate access for users to easily search information in Dspace. So what are the possible solutions?

At large university libraries, students submit theses and dissertations online. In this submission process, a senior needs to create descriptive metadata for his own work, such as title, author, keywords, abstract, table of contents etc. After the student submits his/her thesis, the metadata librarian will review the submission. If the thesis passes the review, the librarian will publish it right away. If the metadata librarian finds out inappropriate metadata in the submission, s/he will not publish it until errors are fixed.