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2CUL: A Transformative Research Library Partnership

Jim Neal, Columbia University, Anne Kenney, Cornell University

Neal and Kenney described a radical partnership between two ARL libraries. Cornell and Columbia have similarities in that they are both private Ivy League institutions, ranked in the top 10 of the Association of Research Libraries, and are located in New York State. However, they also have very different cultures. Funded by a Mellon grant, they hired the Ithaka organization as consultants to facilitate their goals of increased productivity, innovation and reduction of duplication. The context for their partnership describes the current academic library environment: rapidly shifting user behavior and expectations, redundant and inefficient library operations, aging service paradigms, ATM expectations on the part of users, an emphasis on unique resources, the need to achieve scale and network effects through aggregation, a permanent beta state of mind, advanced open architecture, mandate for systemic change, acceleration of collection and a new economic context. New roles for libraries may come as consumers, intermediaries, aggregators, publishers, educators, r&d organizations, entrepreneurs, and policy advocates. New arenas for collaboration include centers of excellence, mass production, new infrastructures, new initiatives, meaning essentially Quality, Productivity, Innovation.

Best soundbite of the day: “Discovery is the new black.”

Cloud Sourcing Research Collections

Constance Malpas, OCLC and John Wilkin, University of Michigan

This presentation was worth the cost of registration all by itself. Malpas gave an absolutely brilliant analysis of the feasibility of using shared digital and print repositories as a service delivery model for academic libraries. 2010 marked the year that expenditures for electronic materials outstripped print in US academic libraries, but monographs remain the driver in terms of life cycle costs for print storage. Monographs have been the most resistant to change, at least until the advent of Google and the Hathi Trust.

The Hathi Trust is the sexiest concept in librarianship today. John Wilkin described its origin and growth. Hathi (hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant, an animal highly regarded for its memory, wisdom, and strength. Starting with the content digitized by Google, the members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (Big Ten libraries) and the University of California system decided early in the project to share their digital files as a trust for future researchers. While only 23% is currently out of copyright and available (at least until an expected Google Book settlement), the goal is long term access and preservation. There will be 8 million digital volumes at the end of 2010 and 14 million by 2012. The goals of the Hathi Trust go far beyond Google digitization, their first order of business is long term preservation of digital content – with access. This will be a game changer for all academic libraries. Malpas predicts in 5-10 years, a small number of shared print repositories can suffice or low use monographs – providing that service models are built to facilitate access. An immediate question for ZSR is should we continue to store monographs that are in the public domain and digitally available through the Hathi Trust? And that is only the beginning of the questions we need to ask.

Models for Organizational Realignment

David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Carla Stoffle, University of Arizona; Vivan Lewis, McMaster University, Canada

Each of these speakers described planned organizational change in their libraries. Arizona and McMaster engaged in intentional repeated changes every couple of years. Ferriero used President Obama’s principles of open government to change the culture at the National Archives and Records Administration. After perhaps trying to do too much, too quickly, McMaster used the Balanced Scorecard to focus on the most important organizational priorities. Arizona has had four major reorganization since they invented the team structure (that we still use here) in the mid-1990’s. They do this with a relentless focus on the customer.

I very much enjoyed the ARL/CNI Forum. ARL members understand their responsibility to use their resources and scale to achieve the systemic change that will set the model for academic libraries in this country. It is fun to watch them do it.