Several weeks ago, I attended the 2016 North Carolina Serials Conference in Chapel Hill with Steve Kelley. This year is also the conference’s 25th anniversary, and it was celebrated in with a formal program during the lunchtime banquet. Several individuals were recognized for their work that established the conference as well as for their leadership that allowed the conference to grow and expand during that time. This year, nearly 150 attendees from across the state and region attended sessions ranging from visualizing collections data to techniques in cleaning up the metadata for collections.
The keynote speaker was Dorothea Solo, whom I had seen at NASIG’s conference last year, and she was just as provocative today. In her presentation “What If the Internet Had It All?” she again raised the problems related to the curation and preservation of digital objects, adding that this was only getting worse with the passing of each day. However, Ms. Solo postulated that solving the problems of old data should not be left to the younger generations of librarians to solve. Rather, we have to be able to “jumpstart” the change now, establishing the principles that will help the next generation with the challenges that have yet to emerge.
The closing speaker was Rob Ross of NC-LIVE who spoke about “Discovery from the Outside In”. Mr. Ross spoke about the management of libraries from a customer service perspective, with library patrons serving as consumers. He challenged the audience to consider libraries in the broader service economy, knowing that there are some things that libraries excel at on their own while others would require partnerships with outside actors to either create or manage effectively. For this example, he used a recent story in the New York Times about the discovery of gravitational waves to demonstrate how dynamically mixed web content compared with the static, flat content offered on many aggregators. The contrast was striking, and it illustrated how access is a relevant a question to the quality of the content that is being accessed. As the expectations of our consumers continue to rise, so must our own.
Congratulations to the North Carolina Serials Conference, and here’s to twenty-five more years of asking those larger questions.