Thanks to Xin Li’s alert, I’ve been reviewing the Taiga Forum’s recently released predictions on the future of libraries. This third set of ten “provocative statements” comes with the caveat that it is intended to stimulate discussion and medium-term planning rather than forecast the future. Nonetheless, within five years, the group is predicting the following:
This past week both Yale and the Library of Congress announced the open availability of important collections. Building on Cornell’s lead in making digital versions of public domain material freely accessible without restrictions, Yale went one better in extending that policy to include its museums as well as its libraries and archives (see: http://odai.yale.edu/sites/default/files/OpenAccessLAMSFinal.pdf).
Beth Anderson, eagle-eyed member of the Cornell University Library Advisory Council, sent me this photo over the weekend from the public library in Boise, Idaho. Not only is Boise proclaiming enthusiasm for its library, but could this is also the first sighting of the noun being used as a verb? Nouns that become verbs typically reflect new trends or changing roles—witness “to google,” “to skype,” “to archive.” So I “googled” Boise Public Library and indeed the library has been reconceived as a social center where other community service are also located.
Last week, Xin Li, Stephan Lowentheil (chair of the Cornell Library Advisory Council and major friend of the library), and I attended the centennial celebration of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. You may recall that CUL has a very close relationship with Tsinghua University Library, based on a decade of cooperation begun while Sarah Thomas was the university librarian.
By now you’ve seen the messages about putting your hat in the ring for the Library Forum Steering Committee. I think this past year has shown how rich the offerings and opportunities have been under the direction of the Library Forum. We have this group, and especially the Steering Committee, to thank for providing CUL staff with the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the Library, weigh in on important issues, and become more engaged in the life of Library.
This week academic institutions and communities across the country will celebrate National Library Workers Day to recognize the “hard work, dedication, and expertise of library support staff and librarians.” We know that our users--faculty and students alike--recognize and appreciate the quality of library staff members as evidenced in multiple surveys, in the many comments received, in book acknowledgements, and in other ways. In gratitude for your service and dedication, look for small tokens of appreciation that will pop up on circulation desks this week.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Marshall McLuhan, who once famously quipped that the medium is the message. Although focused on television, his key premise—that the means for communicating information affects how we perceive and interact with that information—rings true today. McLuhan’s research has regained interest as the internet became the primary purveyor of content. We’ve seen concerns raised about how that medium affects reading—from the amount of time spent, to changes in reading patterns, to levels of comprehension.
Cornell University Library may be the first major private research library to explicitly go on record that it will no longer sign publisher contracts that include non-disclosure (NDA) clauses. Our new policy is available at: http://www.library.cornell.edu/aboutus/nondisclosure. I’m pleased that the Faculty Library Board and the Provost fully endorsed this position. So why is this so important?
Marie Laveau (Leveaux) was New Orleans’ reining Voodoo Queen in the 19th century. Although she died in the 1880s, her crypt in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 remains a primary destination spot for devotees and the curious. They pay their respects with flowers, coins, x-marks, and small mementos. On a tour of the cemetery, a guide points out other inhabitants of note - and those less fortunate souls forgotten by family and friends. Their aboveground graves have tilted and partially sunk because the water table is so high in this part of the Mississippi Delta.