Defining The Library: The Mission, Role and Community


Nearly twenty years into the 21st century, how exactly do we define the word, library? This is hardly a frivolous question. Neither is it a settled one. If a library is less defined by its information resources or access services than by foot traffic or usage stats, then appropriate assessment of its contribution to the institution -- through either quantitative or qualitative metrics -- becomes demonstrably more difficult. The question has implications for administrators with budgetary concerns as much as for educators in the field. Should libraries be focused on decentralization in order to better serve specialized research communities? Or should they be more centralized as the central organ of an educational organism?

Confirmed Speakers: Patti Brennan, Director, National Library of Medicine; Stanley J. Wilder, Dean of the Library, Louisiana State University; Roger Macdonald, Director, Television Archive, Internet Archive

Event Sessions

The National Library of Medicine – Anticipating our third century


The National Library of Medicine is not your typical library – we rarely lend books, we undertake and invest in research, and we’re actually one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. Yet NLM, as the world’s largest biomedical library, performs very typical library functions—we acquire, organize, preserve and disseminate materials pertinent to medicine, curate and make available globally enormous genomic databases and  conduct outreach efforts to ensure that our resources are well-used by the general public. We reach over 5M people a day, ingest over 15 TBs export over 100 TBs of data per day. We’ve played a role in every biomedical discovery for the past 50 years! As we approach our third century we renew our commitment to our mission, recognizing that we’ll be using new strategies and approaches to fulfill our roles and reaching new communities of users in new ways. Our impact on the future won’t be counted in visits or web hits, but through the influence we have in accelerating discovery, enabling insights and fostering access to the knowledge of health through innovative human-computer mechanisms.

Prospects for Digital Libraries Serving Human Readers and Web-scale Computational Insight


The Internet Archive’s mission is Universal Access To All Knowledge. I will share some practical models for how that exceedingly ambitious goal might be approached.  I’ll offer some examples of how uncommon insight might be derived when media are treated as data and are available for public interest oriented computational research.  In this era when disinformation is poisoning our information commons, I’d like to encourage webinar participants to consider how significant public interest could be served by library resources being available to digital services for dynamic contextualization.

The Urgent Necessity of Identity for an Academic Library


The widespread assumption that academic libraries must be obsolete has moved consideration of library identity from a theoretical level to one of day-to-day urgency. This presentation will describe how I approach formulating and conveying library identity in a variety of situations. I conclude with a short case study of how I’ve adapted my generalized “vision” for the local environment (LSU) I now inhabit.

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