Posted to…oh gosh, I don’t remember, one of the many, many list servs I’m on, was a link to Truth be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in a Digital Age. It is a fascinating study. What struck me was that nothing much has actually changed.
OK, yes, students are seeking information online BUT their first resource is still family/friends. This has always been true. The “phone a friend” option has been popular since Hector was a pup (as an old friend used to say). If you look down to the core of the information seeking behavior, the root is the same. The places have changed but the way we start hasn’t. We ask someone we think will know and move along from there.
I remember when I first learned about Usenet and BITNET (remember them? Oh Lord, I am old). I remember going to one of the computer science professors and asking for instructions on how to use them and being told “there is none”. What? There were no instructions on how to use this incredible resource? This was in the days before Mosiac, back when we used “archie” or “veronica” to “gopher” things. It was incomprehensible to me that no instructions or manual existed but it was true. It was trial and error and everyone learned on their own.
Did you notice? I went to a live person to try to find out how to use something…My information seeking was to find someone…
Print has been on my mind and apparently on others too…Two stories strike me:
NASIG‘s recent conference in Albuquerque had a session “E-books for the Classroom & Open Access Textbooks: Two ways to help students save money on textbooks” which [full disclosure] I did not attend. However, one of my colleagues did and told me about it. Sounds great – basically the University of South Florida noticed the extremely high costs of textbooks and looked at ways to solve this. Fantastic! Their way seems to be moving in an “e” direction. I understand this, providing the “e” is cheaper but …most students are saying they prefer print to e. Check it out: Tech Times, Washington Post, Education Week. I would love to see a session bringing that into the mix of cost and access. What would you do as a poor student?
Lately on Serialst there has been a lovely discussion which confirms the move away from print serials to electronic. Some noted that they are retaining print due to:
- unavailable electronically
- cannot afford the electronic version
- continuing historic collection / preservation
Again cost rears up. Isn’t it interesting that print is cheaper for journals but more expensive for books? Also, here we have preservation coming up – students note that having the print textbook is something they can markup and keep for future consultation. You can do markup in the e too, or so my apps tell me, but they prefer print. And then we have preservation …
Paper. It lasts and lasts doesn’t it?
Mike Rowe, I’ve loved you for a very long time. I love how you glory the non-glamorous. Love how you speak out for the unspoken (careers, that is). I could not possibly agree with you more on the beauty of skilled labor*; on the idea that college is NOT for everyone; on the thought that blue collar is not inherently less but is, in fact, much much more.
Now I find that you are rocking my thirst for knowledge. My need for info – bites. My desire for your voice to stream erudite in my ear. I haven’t been so happy since I found Mental Floss!
Check out the new The Way I Heard It for mini-bits of Rowe knowledge. I only presume he is working with a professional to ensure the facts are checked and double checked before each episode is recorded. If not, I know a whole bevy of librarians who’d be happy to help –
Psst, learn more about the trades and options available at Mike Rowe Works by going to your local library. We carry tons of information on every possible trade … and if we don’t have it there, we can get it for you. NO CHARGE!
*Funny! Wikipedia notes ‘skilled labor’ as not just the trades & getting your hands dirty but also notes computer skills, accountants, etc. … skill is skill is skill. And labor is key in every job.
I had an “Aha” moment at ALA MW. There I was, sitting and listening to the Big Heads of Technical Services (no, really, that’s what it is called), when suddenly my brain began to function. Let’s see it if works in essay form.
I believe I have seen the future – the bigger picture – the reason for the seemingly meaningless changes. We are moving completely away from the traditional ILS (or the more hip acronym LMS), Discovery models, ERM, etc. That, we are hoping to merge all these different systems all built for specific purposes into one system (with modules, scalability, etc. etc.). This makes perfect sense.
Copy cataloging began as a way to share so each library did not have to “reinvent the wheel“. We developed ILS to manage all (at the time) known aspects of the library: Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation, and the good ol’OPAC. This made life oh so much easier as we hooked all the areas together.
Along came CD-ROM and, eventually, online databases. Vendors have completely separate systems we learn to manage. Perhaps we added the acquisitions portion to our traditional ILS and maybe, just maybe, some added aspects to their catalog but in general, these are considered separate from ILS. We have separate Admin, separate search, separate statistics, etc. Oh yes, we piddled around with something called “federated search” to enable a user to search across all databases. It didn’t work too well and many felt burned by the experience (thus we now call the same concept “Discovery”).
As we began collecting more e-resources, we needed an easy way to provide access. It quickly became apparent the traditional ILS catalog would not suit – too much information too fast and rapidly changing. Thus began the, oh how to say without using proprietary product names? A product that allows a long alphabetic listing of e-resource specific titles. This product allows the user to click on a specific title to see the contents and read/print/email particular articles from the list of contents. This is yet another system to manage in the library.
As e-journals and packages began Big Deals, we added ERM to our arsenal of management tools. We needed somewhere to store things like license agreements, ILL information, title lists, etc.
Back to my aha moment…why are we fooling around with things like RDA and a new MARC (or, as Beecher Wiggins termed in the Big Heads meeting, Bibliographic Framework Transition) or the newly coined Web Scale Management? Well to merge all these varying systems together – to have one place to put our acquisitions information and it share along appropriately. For one place to search, and it searches all appropriate areas. For one ‘catalog’ in which everything collected (physical or ephemeral) by the library is noted.
On and off I have been working on a post about technology. I love new technology, am fascinated with the possibilities but at the same time I want to know how it will effect (and affect) things.
Remember the old PDA? The first run of these basically were just electronic address books – and the stylus was rather difficult to use (especially for those of us with less than stellar handwriting). I liked the idea but preferred my old handwritten, scribbled on, little black book. I still do use that little black book (especially for physical addresses of friends/family) but I also my phone’s ability to retain phone numbers. Works for me but it does mean I can no longer remember phone numbers since I no longer dial from memory.
Then there is the downloadable music of today. I’m told downloadable is replacing compact disc (which replaced the LP and cassettee…not entirely and not across the world). This frustrates me. I love music and dislike the idea that I can only get some things by purchasing and downloading. Well, except when you go to see live music of not-so-well-known bands. CD sales is where they can make their money, gigs don’t pay very much and CD (and tshirt and keychain, etc.) sales is where they can make some $$$.
Oh! And books. Books are going away, d’ya know? Yes! It is said that no longer will we have paper, we will be a paperless society (I’ll pause here for your laughter as you look around your office). Instead of purchasing a book or grabbing one from the library, you will purchase and download books to a device. Seems very much like ‘renting’ to me – especially when Big Brother can reach across and delete from my device (referring to the Kindle/1984 phenomena – and ain’t it a kick what book that happened to? Cue Rod Sterling).
I like owning a physical copy. Yes, it takes space but when my computer crashes and my hard drive backup is corrupt…I still have my CD and I can read by candlelight if power dies. I wish I had taken my own advice on physical copy when my phone decided I no longer needed to have any friends or contacts – which happened right after my computer decided to kick the bucket thus killing my phone backup.
Then, of course, is the issue of access. I have ranted and ranted about this. NOT everyone can afford an MP3 player. What? They’re really cheap? Uh huh, so is milk but many still need food stamps or WIC. Oh! You’ll give everyone a player? Sweet. Now, how do they get the music to put on the ‘free’ player? Ah! Simply download it…on what? Can’t download in a public library. Can’t download when you do not own a computer OR have internet access. Oh and let’s not forget the cost of electricity and/or batteries. It ain’t cheap. Then there is the learning curve on how to do this…rant rant rant.
Wow – go off subject much? Yes. Yes I do. Point being technology is great, it really is but let us not forget everyone else. Let’s not build a society of information-rich and information-poor. Libraries can help fill this niche needed to provide all this wonderful technology to the masses. And they do – quietly and without fanfare, libraries are out there helping people get what they need to succeed (as well as entertain).
*disclaimer, I do use downloads. I have downloaded music and books and all sorts of neato cool things. And I love it. But I do also love my physical copies for things I want to go over and over and over and over… I am not anti-technology. I am, though, pro-options.
Have you seen this “A Librarian Takes on Google Books“*? It is just brilliant on so many levels:
- librarians not just recognizing the need but taking action
- non-librarians seeing the worth of the project
- purchasing and utilizing appropriate technology
- quality AND quantity being considered and acted upon
Best of all? This near the end of the blog entry:
The librarian believes he has found a new cause for his profession, to give a secure home to digitized texts produced with the highest quality standards and available freely to all. “These are huge benefits,” he says, “and should be fought for by all of those who care about unimpeded public access to knowledge.”
I think Andrew Green is my new hero (then again, I haven’t yet seen what he is doing about metadata).
*Please note, the idea of the Google Book project is lovely. Let’s get everything so everyone can access it. The issues involved in such an endeavor are incredibly complex (from copyright to access to cost to quality and beyond). I admire the ideal but am not enamored with the reality. For your edification, Library Journal has published a list of links regarding the topic. You can also just search for tons of for/against articles, blogs, etc.