MIT reports

Lorcan 2 min read

I like the format of the MIT Annual Reports on the web: the library director and her AULs report on major issues in their areas, and relate developments at MIT Libraries to the broader informational, educational and research context. I serendipitously landed on the most recent available report (FY 2005/06) over the weekend and pulled out the following snippets ….
I was interested in the focus on productivity, on the user side and on the library side. I sense a much stronger interest in this topic over the last while. So, on the user side, there is a recognition that folks don’t just want to ‘find’ things; they want to ‘get things done’. Hence the interest in customization, getting into the workflow, providing better support for personal collection management, and so on.

Moreover, at MIT the fact that the Libraries have tended to focus on the emerging edge of new knowledge, and on using new technology to develop tools that support productivity for the MIT community, has particular resonance with the campus. [Director, Libraries: Annual Report FY 2004-2005: MIT Libraries]

And on the library side, there is a re-examination of workflows and system:

The Libraries also examined its workflows and policies regarding the management of print collections. Under the co-sponsorship of the Associate Directors for Public Services and Collection Services, R2 Consulting was engaged for this review to identify strategies for reducing the time spent managing print collections responsibly in order to devote more staff and effort in support of digital resources. [Public Services: Annual Report FY 2004-2005: MIT Libraries]

And again …

The Libraries engaged R2 Consulting to review current technical processes carried out in relation to pre- acquisitions work and receipt of print library materials. The motivation for this was the recognition that electronic resources are assuming greater importance for most user communities, but the bulk of our staff time and effort is still devoted to managing print collections. [Collection Services: Annual Report FY 2005-2006: MIT Libraries]

This realignment of resource allocation is something that many libraries are looking at. In part because:

That survey revealed a very high interest in expanding “the historic depth of our online collection by providing more electronic access to older journals.” If it isn’t on-line, it doesn’t exist seems to be the perception of a growing segment of our user community. Funding was sufficient to purchase the following backfiles this year: … [Collection Services: Annual Report FY 2005-2006: MIT Libraries]

One of the motivations behind the ERAMS label was to create awareness around the set of practices and services involved in managing licensed materials, in part, one imagines, to encourage this switch. Martha Whittaker discusses this interestingly in a presentation [ppt] given to the Fiesole Retreat in Hong Kong where she uses the organizational structure of UCLA to underline her point.
Increasingly, we will see a focus on thinking about how best to manage library operations across bought materials (traditionally managed in the ILS), licensed materials, and new digital materials. The latter two need to get more routine, and the resource consumed by the first needs to be reduced.

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