Author: Jesus Alonso-Regalado Published: September 14th, 2010
These materials complement the blog entry published on Monday July 26, 2010. This entry includes all the resources presented and generated in a group-based activity during the Roundtable on the Evolving Role of the Latin American Studies Librarian. Quo Vadis? And What are We Going to Do About It? (Panel 6 included as part of the program of the SALALM LV Conference held in Providence, RI).
Author: Daisy Dominguez Published: August 5th, 2010
Motivated by James Neal’s tweet and the general e-SALALM vibe at SALALM 55, here by popular demand are some more presentations. This post is being edited as more people send their presentations. Thanks to all who have shared theirs already!
Panel 1: Envisioning and Shaping the Future of Latin American and Area Studies Collections and Research
Author: Fernando Acosta-Rodriguez Published: August 4th, 2010
“A Library by Any Other Name: Change, Adaptation, Transformation”
Prepared for SALALM LV
The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research:
Contributing and Adapting to New Trends in Research Libraries
Providence, RI, July 25, 2010
Deborah Jakubs, Duke University
It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to speak to you today, to return to my roots here in SALALM, where I have made many lasting friendships, with library and bookdealer colleagues from whom I have learned so much over the years. Perhaps I can give a little bit back with my remarks today. I hope so.
It is wonderful to note that SALALM has been alive and well for 55 years. During these five+ decades, change has been our constant companion, and one of SALALM’s many strengths has been the organization’s – and its members’ – capacity to recognize change, regroup and adapt to it, and incorporate change into its character and mission. The ambitious agenda for this meeting clearly demonstrates the breadth of interests and expertise among the membership and highlights the many opportunities ahead.
Today I would like to talk with you about changes and challenges I see from my current perspective as the university librarian and vice provost for library affairs at Duke University. The title of my presentation is derived from the many times I have been asked if we “still need libraries,” or if “we should change the name” to reflect more accurately what happens in libraries these days. My response is always the same: that it has nothing to do with the word “library” and everything to do with how we define that word, and how the definition has changed, particularly in the past decade. The old interpretation of “library” was narrow; the new meaning is very broad, and our mission is expanding all the time. So it is time to take a fresh look at the work of libraries and discard the old image.
First, I want to share some information on trends in area studies that I have collected in preparation for two recent public presentations, the first to the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL) at the meeting of the Asian Studies Association, as part of a panel on “The Future of Foreign Language Collections in Transformational Times: What is at Stake?” and second to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) membership in a session on “Recalibrating Research Libraries’ Approaches to Global Collections and Expertise.” In both cases, I was reporting on and interpreting dynamics that come to bear on area studies librarianship and global resources. I hope that the conclusions I drew from my preparation for those presentations, and from the comments they elicited, will be of interest. I will also offer some advice and raise some questions that might inform a conversation among us later on.
First, some general trends. WorldCat may be an imperfect tool, but an analysis of its contents can give some indication as to trends in collecting area studies materials among the member libraries. In the two previous talks I mentioned, one entitled, “Are Our Worries Over? Signs of Hope for International Collections and Services,” and the other “Are We There Yet? Trends in Global Collections and Services,” I provided an update on the state of area studies collecting, particularly following the establishment of the Global Resources Program at ARL, now the Global Resources Network hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). The conclusions I drew in those presentations have relevance for SALALM and for today’s discussion, so I will share some of them with you today.
As I told the CEAL audience, for some time the area studies library community has worried that area studies materials are under-collected by research libraries and used by relatively few researchers, and thus even further threatened as budgets tighten, measures of use (potential or actual) negatively influence collection development decisions, and libraries make an inevitable transition to ever-increasing reliance on digital resources. Furthermore, there is concern that the specialists who identify, acquire, process and create access to such materials are in short supply, and the pipeline is very narrow. Fears that future scholars who want to use non-English resources will find only sparse collections have added urgency to our mission to address this situation. As a result of these concerns, and thanks to the efforts of many individuals, numerous cooperative projects have been created, and have borne fruit in many cases. We know much more now than we ever have about the nature of our collections, we have employed technology to build robust new means of access, and we are doing a much better job of sharing the materials we have. But there is still a nagging sense that we are falling behind, that area studies collections will be lost in the transformation to a digital world.
And now we have new worries, about the rising costs of access to electronic information, and especially the impact on our ability to continue to acquire traditional (print) resources. We are concerned about the availability of full-text databases – whether they are being developed for, or in, all countries, on compatible platforms, and how they will be archived. We see faculty turning to new kinds of resources, for example, new media and visual materials, and we wonder how to acquire or license and provide ongoing access to those sources, which are proving to be increasingly important to the broad field of cultural studies and beyond. Research and teaching interests have expanded greatly and interdisciplinary collaborations are also putting pressure on the ability of libraries to satisfy the broader and broader needs of scholars and students, ever more quickly. New topics, new technologies: how do we keep track of it all, identify the sources, and pay for everything? And of course there is the duality of our world, in which we continue to acquire print materials and primary resources while dedicating more of our funds to licensing digital access. We worry that our parent institutions do not fully appreciate our cause, our needs, our concerns, in the larger budget struggles.
I understand the worries because I used to be a worrier. I was a major worrier about the crisis in foreign acquisitions. But it is time to put those old concerns aside, and to focus on the successes we have had in expanding access to scholarly resources, capitalizing on technological means, and carving out a broader role for area studies. It is also important to ensure that area studies library operations are front and center in the new directions research libraries are taking. The future is bright and the opportunities are numerous. Here are some trends I see. Even some of those worries can work to our advantage.
From the crisis in foreign acquisitions, addressed by the Global Resources Network and its component projects, including the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP), have come many digital projects that put area studies at the forefront of new developments that expand access for scholars to the materials they need, and which also strengthen the collaborations that have long characterized Latin American studies librarianship. This is especially important in the transition from print to digital, as we participate in the development of new models of digital dissemination. The area studies library community has provided leaders for these initiatives, and has developed and continues to develop models that have broader applicability.
From the image of few users of exotic materials in strange languages, area studies has been transformed by interests of faculty from across the disciplines whose work involves new topics, new media, and new collaborations. Area studies specialists are the original interdisciplinarians, after all, a fact that should be emphasized at a time when so many universities are making interdisciplinarity a strategic goal of academic programs. This is an opportunity to address a different set of needs and to work closely with other subject specialists and vendors.
Universities are globalizing, and encouraging cross-departmental, cross –school, and interinstitutional collaborations with an international focus, such as global health. More and more universities are establishing campuses abroad. This highlights the collections on Latin America and other regions as well as giving us opportunities to work with new and different groups of faculty and students.
The potential for increased outsourcing – of cataloging, for example – provides libraries with the opportunity to reallocate resources and deploy staff in new ways, while strengthening the relationships with book vendors who are providing new, valuable services.
Area studies collections are special collections. Foreign-language collections are integral to research libraries. It is our duty to collect broadly, to support the needs of researchers, and to consider the scholarly record internationally. As libraries focus on expanding access to their distinctive collections via digitization projects, area studies will become more visible.
And finally, university librarians are paying attention. The theme of the ARL meeting in late April 2010 was “Globalization of Higher Education and Research Libraries,” and featured presentations with a global focus on intellectual property, scholarly communication, partnerships across borders, multi-country universities, and other topics. The panel on which I participated, “Recalibrating Research Libraries’ Approach to Global Resources” addressed such questions as: “Are ARL libraries going to continue to build comprehensive collections of global publications and resources from all world areas? Is this an element that defines the research library in relation to the academic and research programs at our institutions? Are there opportunities for new forms of collaboration in the acquisition, cataloging, housing, use and preservation of our global collections? How are we going to recruit the staff who have the subject, language, cultural and technical skills to support global collection development?” In addition, ARL has just established a new task force to determine ways in which the organization can become more international. All good signs.
In his invitation to speak, Fernando asked that I share some “big picture reflections.” I believe that our new Duke University Libraries strategic plan, Sharpening Our Vision, can help focus those reflections. The plan is a concise framework, carefully and thoughtfully constructed, that contains/supports the key elements of the work of research libraries today. I am sure it is similar to the strategic directions of other libraries. These dynamics are pervasive, and Latin American studies librarians will see a role for themselves in each area. I would suggest that we look for more ways to integrate our work with that of others, rather than maintaining a distance. In many ways the organizational chart just a bureaucratic convenience. Through cross-departmental and cross-unit engagement, libraries, like universities, avoid silos; our work within the library and within the wider university is increasingly collaborative, as it has long been within SALALM inter-institutionally and internationally. This is evident from a brief examination of Duke’s strategic goals, and this look will also convey the relevance of my subtitle today: change, adaptation, transformation.
Improve the User Experience: Understand library users’ research and library experiences and use that information to shape collections, spaces, and services.
Evaluating and assessing library services are increasingly important for justifying budget expenditures but also for improving those services. The better we understand what users want and how they do their work, the more successful we will be in meeting those needs — and thus in demonstrating the value libraries add to the research process and student learning. Acting quickly to improve services, basing recommendations on data when possible, and encouraging innovation will all ensure that the library, its staff, and their responsiveness are recognized and appreciated.
Provide Digital Content, Tools and Services: Offer services and scholarly resources in formats that best fit user needs
It is a priority to increase the library’s capacity to create, acquire and manage digital scholarly content in a diverse range of formats, as well as to facilitate its discovery. Digital content in some cases is replacing print (journals, for example) and in others content is reformatted to be more widely accessible through digital means.
Develop New Research and Teaching Partnerships: Encourage new strategies for interacting and working with users, collaborating with other groups and embedding staff and services at the right place in users’ workflows.
Whether through e-science, e-scholarship, or e-publishing initiatives, librarians have many opportunities to partner with faculty, departments, programs and institutes on campus to develop innovative projects and services. This is a new and welcome role, and offers a vantage point from which to understand how the library might configure or reconfigure its services, how individual librarians and library staff might become more engaged directly with users. It also encourages cross-departmental collaborations within the library and a flexible organizational model.
Support University Priorities: Articulate how the Libraries’ collections, services and initiatives align with the University priorities of excellence in research and teaching, internationalization, interdisciplinarity, and knowledge in the service of society.
As university librarian, it is critically important to me that the library be seen as the intellectual center of the campus, and that our collections and services transparently and actively support the university’s directions. The better we understand those priorities, the more we can reflect them in our work, our planning, and our external communications.
Enhance Library Spaces: Ensure that the Libraries’ physical spaces are developed in coordination with the evolution of the teaching and research needs of the University.
In addition to the question of whether we should change the name “library,” another I am frequently – even more frequently – asked, is whether we still need physical libraries. I can only speak directly for Duke, where many more people than ever are coming to the Libraries, and they are staying longer. Our extensive building and renovation project, in which we nearly doubled our space, resulted in a dramatic increase in visits and also in the number of print books being checked out, a fact that for some reason comes as a surprise to many folks. We are always watching for ways to adapt the space; for example, given the heavy emphasis on interdisciplinary work, and a reliance on more e-resources in the sciences, we integrated three science branches into the main library, one each summer, over the past three years.
In conclusion, to me the big picture for libraries looks like this:
Increasing engagement for staff beyond the physical walls of the library – within the university, the region, nationally, internationally.
Staying on top of new trends in scholarship, publishing, and library services and sharing that knowledge, integrating it into our work, anticipating, identifying, and adapting to changes.
Increased focus on assessment and accountability.
Encouraging and rewarding creativity, innovation, and collaboration.
Increasing focus on “going where the user is” –e.g., delivery to mobile devices.
Not being afraid of trying new things, even if they might fail – we will learn from the experience.
Viewing collections not as print and digital, but just collections, integrated means of conveying information and sharing scholarship.
Reaching the point when the most innovative ideas and services become a natural part of our daily work, not perceived as add-ons to our “regular” work.
Budget pressures help identify what we can stop doing in order to do new things. Early retirements gave us the opportunity to consolidate functions and reallocate positions to new services.
Ensuring that staff have the requisite skills and training to meet the challenges we face.
Library staff will bring diverse experiences and take different paths to library work.
Library as place, library as collection.
Now is a good time to take a hard look at SALALM’s stated mission, given the changes in scholarly communication, publishing, and libraries. According to the website, the mission assumes the existence of a user (of bibliographic information, publications, collections, cooperation) but does not explicitly mention a focus on the changing needs of researchers, students, and teachers and the new means by which libraries address them – all themes so evident in this meeting’s agenda. Nor does the impact of the rapidly evolving role of libraries and librarians or the expanded scope of publishers and vendors appear in SALALM’s mission, although the actual work of SALALM recognizes these changes.
As we celebrate SALALM at this 55th annual meeting, I encourage you to make sure that the mission adequately represents the organization’s achievements and aspirations, in light of the environment in which we are living and working, and that it reflects the change, adaptation, and transformation of the new definition of “library.” SALALM has much to celebrate and still more to anticipate.
Monday was filled with panels on collaboration, where I spent most of my time. (Really sorry to miss all the other excellent presentations on Monday and yesterday’s Pecha Kucha or however you spell it. Thanks for everyone who has shared their thoughts, slides and all the tweeting)
I’ll soon get my slides on the 2CUL Cornell-Columbia initiative up. Two of the other panels on collaboration brought up a wealth of ideas. We heard a lot about what works and what’s different today about collaboration. I think there definitely has to be an alignment of certain pressures AND certain support to make this work. We heard from Dora Loh about Calafia and how they are moving forward, taking advantage of existing and emerging infrastructure in California for sharing print and coordinating acquisitions. Check out their site for descriptions of agreements. Denise Hibay walked us through the analysis of collections that was done as some major shifts and redirections took place at the NYPL. She shared an interesting schema for describing and categorizing collections–hope that will be available soon. Angela Carreno spoke about their cloud library project–understanding overlap between digital content and files deposited in the Hathi trust, digital content and overlap in the shared ReCAP facility. Can a library source what it needs from these digital and print repository “clouds” instead of duplicating the effort to store and manage print? Read more of this OCLC supported project. We heard more about Dartmouth and Brown’s “boutique” collaboration for Brazil and Miguel Valladares showed us his impressive report analyzing LANE collections–how did he do this all with nothing more than regular WorldCat searches? Search strings are included for those of you who want to try this at home (but maybe not alone).
Take aways? We need to have a place on the SALALM website where we can centrally list all existing collaborative arrangements.
Perhaps we should have a preconference on collaboration next year. Start with having the regional groups work on this at their next meetings, and come to the preconference ready for a structured type of discussion or exercise.
We must work with vendors on this–they are an important part of the picture. Collaboration won’t work without them.
faculty buy-in is key, as well as educating users about what we are doing and how this affects how they work and where they will find what they need.
On July 25, Jesús Alonso-Regalado and Anne Barnhart led a roundtable discussion called “Quo Vadis? And What Are We Going To Do About It? Roundtable on the Evolving Role of the Latin American Studies Librarian.” As part of the discussion, the audience was asked to break into small groups to do a SWOT analysis on the profession of Latin American Studies Librarian. We decided to use this format because, as presenter Anne Barnhart noted, as a profession we do not know how to speak with administrators. The SWOT tool is an example of the strategies, language and tools invoked by upper-level library and campus administrators. This discussion was just the first step in trying to establish where we, as Latin American specialists, are as a profession and how we want to position ourselves for a successful future.
Perhaps the most important conclusion from this exercise is the recommendation that SALALM create a strategic plan with a 3-5 year tangible workplan so we can better influence where we are going. Such a plan could also offer SALALM members talking points when communicating with campus administrators.
Some of the very productive discussion that have taken place at SALALM have already been posted by others, but I wanted to share with us all the remarks from SALALM’s president at yesterday’s opening session.
“Good morning, bienvenidos, bemvindo, welcome to the 55th meeting of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM). My name is Fernando Acosta-Rodríguez, I am serving this year as President of SALALM, and I am also the Librarian for Latin American, Iberian and Latino Studies at the Princeton University Library.
I want to start by thanking very specially our hosts in Providence, the Brown University Library, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Local arrangements group lead by Patricia Figueroa for making this conference possible and for their amazing generosity and hospitality. It is a pleasure to visit your beautiful campus, its libraries, and the city of Providence.
I also want to offer my special thanks to the Princeton University Library, which was another generous sponsor of this event, and to the vendors that have sponsored the coffee and bagel, ice cream and smoothie breaks that will make our conference a more enjoyable one. They are, in alphabetical order, Gale-Cengage Learning, Iberbook Sánchez Cuesta, Iberoamericana-Editorial Vervuert, Libros Centroamericanos, Puvill Libros, Retta Libros, and Susan Bach Books from Brazil.
I have to admit that in many respects, the theme of this year’s conference, The Future of Latin American Library Collections and Research: Contributing and Adapting to New Trends in Research Libraries, is not really a response to new or recent developments. I say that because many of these developments, at least those having to do with the incorporation of digital technologies into libraries, originated more than two decades ago, and research libraries have been both adapting to and implementing them since then. Latin American Studies and area studies librarians, the collections for which they are responsible, and also scholarly research and teaching in these disciplines, have of course always been a part of this process, even if sometimes from the fringes of the research library world.
On that note, please allow me to read a couple of quotes:
1. “Area studies collections, which had comprised the library vanguard, are perceived as relics of an outdated library philosophy emphasizing ownership over access, and of disciplines somewhere between quaint and archaic in their dependence on print formats.
Scholarly communication in general, as well as for area and LAS, is becoming ever more complex. The evolving process is straining all aspects of the traditional system. For research libraries, reduced buying power and diminished coverage are among the most immediately dramatic results. Our efforts to anticipate, react to, and utilize these changes will become increasingly crucial as we attempt to maintain the information base necessary for our scholars.”
2. “The increased availability of information in digitized format is leading to shifts in research libraries’ acquisitions patterns, reducing the portion of library budgets available for conventionally published materials…
Developing current and future cooperative arrangements among libraries is an important component of the project. The issues include: …delivery mechanisms for full text as well as bibliographic information to scholars throughout North America; and the need to further understanding broadly among librarians and scholars that the physical location of foreign language collections need not limit their utility geographically.
The first quote is from an article titled “Latin American Studies, Information Resources and Library Collections: the contexts of crisis,” by Dan Hazen, from Harvard University who is probably sitting somewhere around here. The second one is from an article by Jeffrey Gardner titled “Scholarship, research libraries and foreign publishing in the 1990s”. Both appeared in the Papers of the 36th Annual Meeting of SALALM, which was cohosted by University of California-San Diego, and San Diego State University, in June of 1991, almost twenty years ago.
So, fundamental concerns, key questions, aren’t new. What is different today is that we apparently are in a juncture where technological capacity and know-how, economic incentives and constraints, as well as personal preferences and biases among the various categories of stakeholders, are truly converging into new dominant models of access and of scholarly communications. The shift has already taken place in many disciplines, in the natural and physical sciences in particular, and is rapidly gaining steam across the social sciences and the humanities.
It truly is time then, as our colleague David Block invited us to do two years ago during the SALALM meeting at New Orleans, through his paper titled “Where are we; Where we may be going, What will we do there?”, to examine what all of these apparently systemic changes mean from the perspective of Latin American Studies, and of other area studies too.
This is essential because the conditions and circumstances that characterize our area of responsibility (the academic field of Latin American Studies, and in a broader sense, the intellectual-creative expression production that originates in the region – two things that aren’t exactly the same) do not, at least in my opinion, always fit well with the new models being implemented. To be sure, major changes in publishing, scholarly communications, and distribution are also taking place across Latin America, of course, but these are not always be related to the same set of circumstances that have driven change across the research libraries that most of us work at.
Some questions for us then are, what can we do to avoid or minimize the possibility of an increasing disconnect, in some areas, between the Latin American reality that we wish to document and to represent, and the systems of collection development and scholarly communication that scholars rely on? Conversely, how do we take better advantage of new technologies and other factors to reduce long existing documentation gaps? How can we achieve this when most Latin American Studies librarians are tremendously overstretched as they have had to undertake an increasingly wider range of duties and subject areas, not to mention the cases where even libraries with venerable Latin American Studies traditions have left vacancies unfilled for prolonged periods of time, leaving us wondering if these are permanent decisions? How do we achieve this when, amid talk of the need to globalize education, Latin American and area studies programs apparently lose weight and presence in many of our campuses and are slotted into generic international categories?
We are not going to answer these questions during the next three days, but I think that the program will help us to examine them, and many other related ones, from a wide variety of perspectives. At a minimum, it will at least help us to be better informed and to learn from each other’s experiences, ideas and strategies. Ideally, it will stimulate us to think about and propose new ways of acting in coordination to successfully adapt to and influence future developments affecting our field. We’ll see. ”
Many thanks to Fernando who endured my many pleas to have his remarks forwarded to me so that I could include them here.
Author: Melissa Gasparotto Published: July 26th, 2010
As usual, SALALM has me frantically jotting down ideas and resources as they get shared by colleagues on panels. Because there are so many excellent concurrent panels, I wanted to share some of these for those of you who may not have been able to attend yesterday’s first (of many, I hope!) Pecha Kucha.
Pecha Kucha has just finished, and I, for one, have three pages of notes to follow up on! Owing to wifi failure, I was seen without my computer surgically attached to my fingers; I even proved that I do still know how to write. However, I still managed to learn a lot from each presentation and hope that we have started a new SALALM tradition.
After a constant “vaiven” of back to back activities, the 2nd day of SALALM’s internal meetings seemed less hectic but with just as intense discussions on a variety of topics.
The “libreros” gathering provided a forum for SALALM’s vendors to address issues like the constant reduction of library budgets (will it ever end?) and how to position themselves as independent booksellers to face the competition from the larger and better funded media conglommerates. At some level it’s preaching to the converted (we in SALALM) that vendors based in Latin America go the extra mile in trying to locate materials that dealers in the United States may not be able to do OR are not willing to do.
A much anticipated post-lunch meeting (e-SALALM discussion) drew a standing room only audience. We focused on ways in which the organization can transition into an electronic environment, make better use of emerging technologies and have a more dynamic online presence.
As participants approached the registration area, they could not miss the many souvenirs displayed on an overflowing table nearby. These are the items being raffled to raise funds for the Enlace/Outreach Subcommittee that for more than 20 years has been granting scholarships to bring Latin American information professionals to participate at SALALM annual conferences.
Stay tuned for tomorrow for a report on the keynote speech and much more.