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Charleston Conference 2010, a report
Article Type: Conference report From: Library Hi Tech News, Volume 28, Issue 1
The Annual Charleston Conference was held November 3-6, 2010 in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the 30th anniversary of the conference whose theme was “Anything Goes!” This conference continues to provide a forum for an exchange of ideas between librarians and vendors. Topics discussed at the conference included e-books and the role of the user in the development of library services.
The conference was kicked off by Rick Anderson, University of Utah, whose presentation set the direction for many of the speakers who followed. Anderson discussed the patron-driven future. He talked about what services and resources were on their way out which included interlibrary loan, the big deals, reference and bibliographic instruction, redundant cataloging and print runs. For the present, he sees the following trends: article purchases and document delivery, Wikipedia, shared cataloging, patron-driven acquisitions and print on demand. Anderson discussed the role that the internet has played in changing the world of library collections including the user’s desire for individual articles rather than databases and e-books. As he looked into the future, Anderson said that the game changers in the next five years for libraries would be declining budgets which will mean a different way of doing business; Google Books which has both good discoverability and availability; HathiTrust which provides content of a concentrated quality, good metadata, better discoverability, eight million volumes growing to 14 million by 2012; emerging patron-driven print and e-book acquisition models; and local print on demand using the Espresso Book Machine. He pointed to a new way of doing business where libraries share even more resources, where they will buy what the user needs, where they will print on demand, where they will supply articles not journals and where they will buy fewer subscriptions to journal packages. Anderson noted that libraries will put emphasis on their special collections and make them available as unique digital collections. He stated that libraries should be sharing collections, exposing everything that is available and buying when the patron requests it or print on demand.
E-books was to be one of the themes dominating the conference. The University of Iowa Libraries presented a report on their pilot e-book study. Noting that many studies have documented the low use of print books, the University of Iowa Libraries decided to go in another direction. Collaborating with ebrary and YBP, the libraries began their pilot e-book program in October 1, 2009. They entered 19,000 e-book titles into their catalog. No notice of the project was announced to their users. In order to actually buy an e-book title, ten users had to access the e-book. By November 30, the library had spent $28,000 and purchased 262 titles. The spending rate was higher than expected, but they did not want to end their pilot so they regrouped. They ran the e-book list against the library’s virtual approval profile and limited titles that could be acquired to 2005 and later. Also, the new trigger for a purchase included the following parameters that at least ten pages must be viewed in one session or the book must be used for at least 10 minutes. With these new parameters, 714 e-books were purchased in 11 months. The results to date have been surprising. There is a greater use of e-books than the print copies. The titles used are not what the librarians would necessarily buy. E-books assigned for courses are particularly well used. The libraries plan to soon stop duplicating print and e-books and just buy the e-books.
Another program entitled the E-Brarian Revolution asked the question: what role do librarians play in preparing for the transition to e-books and how can publishers react and positively enforce what is bound to transpire? Mirela Roncevic, IGI Global, discussed a NACS survey of students that indicated that 76 percent still preferred print books and only 8 percent owned an e-reading device. She pointed out that there is still work to be done on standardizing the format and that the evolution of content is trailing behind the development of format. Lynn Connaway, OCLC, said that the library must build its services around the user. The user expects convenience and speed. She pointed out that the lines between books and journals were blurring and that no size will fit everyone. This transition will also mean a change in staff skill sets and the need to promote these new e-materials. Rick Anderson, University of Utah, stated that the library will not be a building full of books as usage for print books continues to go down. He highlighted the importance of Google Books and the HathiTrust. He foresees the library as a collaborative research space with a central repository of local scholarship and research data. He also sees the library as an access broker. Bibliographic instruction will play a larger role than reference work. Future roles for the librarian include negotiator, troubleshooter, roving consultant, cataloger, and classroom instructor.
The emphasis on the user was of primary interest at the Charleston Conference. Library resources are no longer being acquired just in case but rather developed to meet user requests. Users will more and more want electronic resources rather than print resources; so libraries are being designed to take this into account. Much remains to be done in terms of both standardizing technology and providing good discoverability tools that will provide access to resources the user may want. The user needs to know what is available so they will be able to request it.
Kay A. Cassell and Marina I. Mercado