Friday, November 03, 2017

Moving to "Platform" Thinking

ChangeSharon Yang, in her 2013 article "From integrated library systems to library management services: Time for change?" wrote:
According to OCLC, an estimated 50 percent or more of a library's collections are electronic resources, and 65 percent or more of the materials budget of libraries are spent on e‐content today (Burke, 2012). Based on this rate, by 2020, an estimated 80 percent of the materials budget will be spent on e‐books and e‐journals (OCLC, 2010). In spite of these trends and changes, libraries are still using outdated systems to manage modern collections.
Two things stand out to me from this quote.  First, the increased amount of money which is and will be spent on digital resources. Yes, we know this and it is impacting every library budget.  Second, the phrase "libraries are still using outdated systems to manage modern collections." I'm sure library vendors do not believe this is true, but I wonder if they - and us - are thinking big enough about the problem.

As emphasized in the IMLS event on the National Digital Platform (relevant blog posts), libraries, museums and archives need to create better platforms for the work they are doing.  In my mind, these are platforms which would allow for better discovery and sharing of material.  These are platforms that would adhere to specific standards, so the sharing of data, as well as material, can be done easily.  These platforms would be built to support the processes our cultural institutions have in place, rather than our institutions needing to radically modify their processes in order to use the software.

I like that vision and there are people already working on it, and systems already being built. What we need, though, are people - who are emerging from their undergraduate/graduate programs - who are willing to carry this work forward.  We need people who will support this work over the course of their careers.  That may mean helping to build and maintain, or it might mean being willing to break with the status quo and use these new systems, OR it might mean working with/for our software vendors to bring them on board.  This means breaking with the way things were done before, even "before" means literally yesterday.

Are you on board?

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