Not a lot of use without speaker notes, but anyway… I may try to record a slidecast of this… or maybe not…
Once upon a time, there was a simple answer to the question “where is the Library?”. But as library services move online, and the archival role of the library moves towards maintaining digital, rather than physical, artefacts, pointing to a particular building in answer to that question is no longer the best answer.
In this presentation, I will explore the notion of various ‘invisible library’ functions, identifying a role for “Library Inside” services that may go unrecognised by patrons in the same way that the manufacturer of the processor inside your computer is hidden away from you unless it is explicitly revaled through a marketing logo.
In particular, I will explore several different takes on the idea of ‘invisibility’ – invisibility that arises from the increasingly commoditised nature of information (do you want a coffee, or a Starbucks?); through a proxy (the Elves and the Shoemaker); or through an unacknowledged or misdirected presence in an unexpected place (invisible theatre).
Through the development of appropriate tools, it is possible to allow patrons to leverage library servics without having to access Library websites directly. One example of this is “invisible authentication” via the “libezproxy” bookmarklet. It works as follows: if a user has discovered the title page of a subscription article the user’s institution subscribs to, the click of a button will rewrite the URL so that the page is presented to the user via their institution’s subscription proxy. The user gets the full text of the article without going anywhere.
Othr invisible e-library services can be delivered through university VLEs – does the student need to know that the library has provided that list of resources?
One of the problems faced by many lending libraries on university campuses is the tendency of academics to hoard books. The distributed library shelf (the ‘inventoryless library’) removes the need for centralised holdings by allowing borrowers to keep books on their own shelves, and declare their location to a distributed catalogue. “The Fall and Rise of the Roman Empire”? Ah yes, Prof G. has a copy in their office, as does Dr W. As the price of books falls through resellers such as Amazon, rethinking a collections policy that allows individual users to buy books direct, and then loaning them on becomes thinkable…
Proactive invisible Library support can increasingly be offered through social networks – comments on blog posts, answers to tweeted questions (whether or not they are posted by “your own” patrons) helps keep knowledge moving around the distributed academy, and may lead to an unforeseen payback further down the line.
As far as the archival role goes, many university libraries are now responsible for maintaining online repositorys that collect together copies of the university’s research outputs. But you don’t really expect anyone to really go there, do you? That’s what Google’s for… So if your users are trying to access your content via Google, you need to work on your SEO… And to know that it’s working effectively, you need to keep an eye on your web analytics…
See also: The Invisible Library, For Real… (but check the date stamp…;-)