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Digital Library Landscape

What is the role of libraries in today’s world?  Vital or irrelevant? These were the questions OCLC’s Roy Tennant attempted to answer. His major theme was that to survive in the digital library landscape, libraries must solve the problems their users have (and, I would presume, those who provide funding even if they’re not library users, although Roy didn’t specifically say so). He identified the main objectives of academic libraries in the digital world as preserving the parts of the web not in the Wayback machine and of public libraries as building community and providing access to materials that are a bit out of the ordinary. And what about special libraries? I thought Roy kind of blew off that group when he said they concentrate on ROI (return on investment). Instead of saying how special libraries could determine their ROI, he said “that’s your homework.” I’m guessing he doesn’t have an answer and I’m not completely surprised, since each special library would have to find an ROI metric compatible with its parent organization’s mission and goals.

He warned against having libraries too associated with books. We must look forward and become “a central parat of the new ecology.” Are libraries in imminent danger? It’s possible, but Roy warned us not to panic. Still, his conclusion that those who dislike change will dislike irrelevance even more indicated that librarians need to alter some of what they do so that they stay relevant might indeed lead to panic in some libraries.

Marydee Ojala, Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

ITIL for Digital Libraries


Frank Cervone in the Digital Libraries track is describing ITIL, Information Technology Infrastructure Library ( How do we decide what the best practices are? The DCC curation lifecycle model is an obvious model. There are criteria and best practices checklist in Europe.
But what about a generalized framework? ITIL helps us focus on infrastructure management. Look at it holistically. He’s giving historical idea of ITIL, which began in early 1970s. ITIL offers systematic approach. It focuses on the service lifecycle. We’re used to thinking this way when it comes to physical assets, but we don’t normally think in these terms for services. Need to all of the processes into consideration. Not just technology. How it improves services. It uses an end to end perspective, from creation to eventual demise. How we create value for the organization by developing and implementing services that are innovative. It’s also not just about operational issues. System developers look at infrastructure service management processes, capacity needs, and anticipated costs and availability. Users of digital library are stakeholders that are not traditionally part of the service implementations function; they’re part of the team (easier said than done). It’s not really usability testing, it’s a wishlist.
ITIL’s 5 volumes, costing $800, that show its complexity and comprehensiveness. Version 3 gives the "big picture." There’s a difference between continual improvement and continuous improvement. ITIL does the former. It’s hard to let services go that have outlived their value.
Service transition is how to implement, create and modify service design. Key areas are change management, release management, configuration management, and service knowledge management. It’s a completely new take on change management. Best practices for testing and roll out, balancing the goals of mitigating risk and assuring quality. Frank’s trying to get us to think about service operation in non-library terms. So he’s mentioning incident management, problem management, request fulfillment, and event management. We need a framework for putting out fires.
ITIL is not exclusively technical. It’s also not affordable. There’s a qualification scheme. Most librarians only need foundation level. Master level is "ITIL Ninja." Criticisms include that it’s religious zeal at the expense of pragmatism.
It’s designed to be best practices not holistic, all encompassing framework. You can’t run it as project, it’s an organizational change activity.
Benefits include that services become more customer-focused, quality and cost are better managed, get clearer structure, change is easier, there’s a uniform frame of reference for internal communication about IT, procedures are standardized and integated, and demonstrable and auditable performance measurements are defined. So far, there’s no "ITIL for Dummies" book.
Marydee Ojala