At this year's annual LIBER Conference, the Meeting of Participants adopted a proposal for a substantial expansion of the LIBER Quarterly format.
On the one hand we wish to allow a greater variety of contributions to be accepted into LIBER Quarterly, including reports, news items, podcasts, film, video and audio. The technical and organisational implications of including such content are yet to be studied by a Working Group, but the intention is clear: more flexibility.
On the other hand some LIBER members expressed the wish to strengthen the ties with the various ILS faculties in Europe and include more peer-reviewed academic content in the journal. This track too is going to be explored by a Working Group.
In combination, these two expansions will ensure that LIBER Quarterly becomes the type of dynamic, interactive platform the European research library community needs in the twenty-first century, combining ILS scholarship with best professional practices.
Meanwhile, I am happy to publish this, the first of two issues devoted this year's 39th Annual General Conference in Aarhus, Denmark, from 29 June until 2 July. This year's theme was ‘Re-inventing the Library: the Challenges of the New Information Environment’, and the papers included this issue certainly reflect that theme as they are all about the challenges of the digital library environment.
We have reached the stage of development where we as libraries more or less know what the user wants — Google-like, easy search tools that, according to research by Tamara Pianos, ‘tolerate typing mistakes’. Pianos warns us not to take information competency for granted in either born-digital students or older researchers. Users seem to be quite ready to accept Google-like search results even though they have little knowledge of the algorithms behind them. What does this bode for the core business of libraries, quality and relevancy?
Libraries introduced federated search systems like Metalib to serve their users' needs, but it seems our users are less than satisfied with such systems. Although ‘the jury is still out’ (Graham Stone), many libraries are looking at other options. The University of Huddersfield commissioned a working group to find a solution which would ‘provide ease of searching and access for the user, whilst reducing the workload for systems and technical services and remaining within current budget levels’ (Stone). This about sums up the task ahead for most research libraries — and it brings into the equation a complicating factor, e.g., budget levels and budget cuts.
This issue of LIBER Quarterly offers detailed case studies of how various libraries have gone about their searches for solutions and the lessons they learned along the way, from implementing e-readers in Canadian high-school classrooms (Serina Patterson et al.), through planning for large-scale management of digital resources (Christine Henshaw et al. from the Wellcome Library), to a major systems overhaul from Metalib to Summon (Graham Stone from Huddersfield) and important awareness work to accompany the change-over.
Another topical question for research libraries is whether or not to get involved in managing research data, and the answers vary. Max Wilkinson et al. of the British Library speak of ‘a widening fissure in the scholarly record — the gap between published research and the datasets that underlie it’ and the BL's intention to help bridge that gap. The Dutch National Library, on the other hand, is presently not getting involved in research data but is counting on close collaboration with the national data archive Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) to bridge the gap (not reported in this issue).
Last but not least this issue reports on developments in European projects which are aimed at improving the digital experience: Sally Chambers brings us up to speed about Europeana, which recently submitted a proposal for a ‘Europeana Libraries’ project, a plan to extend coverage of Europeana from the national libraries to research libraries. LIBER itself is an important partner in this project. Clemens Neudecker of the KB, the Dutch National Library describes how the European IMPACT project for improving results from optical character recognition (OCR) developed the CONCERT tool to be able to leverage the potential of crowd sourcing to improve the accuracy of digitised texts in mass digitisation projects.
More from the 39th Annual Conference soon. We have some catching up to do.