The library is open

When making a shift around libraryland in the fall of 2011 I was lucky enough to attend the Vancouver hosting of the Access conference.

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The theme there was ‘the library is open’ — it set such a strong new tone for me whilst I was ingesting #edpunk philosophy at the waning light of my ten years in K12, my closure on school libraries as a ‘specialty’… it was my exit to this new route.

It has so many bits open source, open access and open data. ┬áIn the post… the trouble with open data in libraries.

Open data placed before libraries makes acute some of the core flaws of libraries as they shift to new service design and delivery.

Access complexity
Data fear
End of life collections.

Libraries are good at access. We have from our early by membership pay-for-admission days moved to greater and greater ideals of access. In my 20 year library career we have seen collections escape closed stacks, resource costs loosen and access options diversify beyond one’s wildest dreams back in the day.

There is no barrier to a nearly perfect access trust, availability and diversity promise if there is libraries… Save maybe librarianship. Libraries are great buildings and I suppose it is worth have a whole class of us ‘named after them’… But in the years of techchange, resource shift and funding collapse we’re certifiably scrambled. We mortgage the trust in the core of our professionalism with scolding. We hemorrhage our openness with dreams of bricks and mortar open doors. We slink, like so many public Canadian ventures, to the limitations of official languages to interact out of text first, text our king.. our imperious, dictatorial king.

To truly fully participate in open data futures libraries need to consider the following:

1. Leverage the network infrastructure of #highered libraries to spark the data life via the open door access and helpfulness intrinsic to the public library system. How can we do that??
2. Fully embrace data as the emergent ‘source’ despite its ambiguous authority. Libraries, as we know them now, are built on the publishing paradigms of old. We need to rediscover our more distant past identities as information curators and behave more like the librarians of the enlightenment who knit collections more often on availability than authority… all the while seeking, constructing and construing value… library as platform. Data instead of information (gasp! BOO information. you are OVERRATED. BOO information.. go Data go!)
3. How can we do any of this while we are obsessed with every content type ever encountered in our post-victorian iterations of the Library. Stuff it. Literally. I don’t care what it takes libraries have to beg the archivists to take the hand off. We are going end-of-life on a great whack of formats to free up our limited capacity. Forget the nostalgia. The web has replaces a whole family of non-fiction sources, ebooks will digest some aspects of fiction use, audio/visual is a playground for knitting transition.. but please, please.. scrap some of the service streams and change practice with this leaning out.