Conferences to me are all about networking, learning, asking questions and answering others, sharing, and really stretching our minds to embrace new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s a chance to prepare for the challenges ahead. This year’s CIL certainly provided the opportunity for all these things. And, indeed, there are challenges, which can and should be seen as exciting possibilities. A number of sessions highlighted what libraries and librarians face: Web 2.0, digitization, new technologies, search engines, Google, and more.
I like how Gary Price put it in the Friday session titled SEs and Libraries: The role of libraries on the Internet. “Is there a role for libraries and librarians on the Internet? YES – and we need to speak up louder! It’s time to shine. We have huge roles as educators. Information literacy is more important than ever.” He noted that marketing and branding continue to be issues of concern for libraries. He advised attendees to learn from Google about the power of viral, word-of-mouth marketing.
Another speaker in that session, Chip Nilges of OCLC is responsible for the Open WorldCat program, a shared platform that adds a syndication model to WorldCat. It’s an exciting time to be working on behalf of libraries, he said. But the recent report on users’ perceptions of libraries noted that 84 percent of users start their research with a search engine. His advice: “The name of the game is meeting the user at the point of need.” To do this, Open WorldCat partners with Google, Yahoo Search, MSN, and Ask. For users it provides a “find in a library” function for book results. Recent enhancements include enhanced data feeds, inbound linking via ISBN, ISSN, OCLC number, and permalinks. All of this has more than doubled the traffic on WorldCat. It has also increased a library’s impact.
Challenges for the information professional? You bet. Bring it on.