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Our Vision and Watch List

I’m really excited about our library’s new idea for keeping a “Watch List.” But first, the backstory.

Our library is in the process of creating its vision statement. It is both an exciting and an impossible task to envision what our library will look like in ten years. So my vote is to envision our attitude rather than our actual holdings, duties, and services. And luckily, as I look at the draft of the document we’ll be discussing tomorrow morning, and I’m pleasantly surprised. Here’s why: I was at the all-staff meeting we had to brainstorm our ten-year vision statement, and I heard a lot said at that meeting that just oozed Millennial Discomfort (see my previous post) and its cousin Technology-Will-Change-Life-As-We-Know-It-itis. This notwithstanding, there’s some pretty good stuff in this draft. For example:

Over the next 10 years, the library will:

  • Experiment with new service models in response to changes in scholarly communication and faculty and student needs. We will adapt our services to meet new user needs, take advantage of emerging technologies, support changes in pedagogy, and contain costs.
  • Transform into an organization encompassing the full range of information resources needed to support learning and teaching. We will continue to expand our expertise in the management of visual and sound resources, text, data and other genres as needed.
  • enhance intellectual life on campus through a lively program of interdisciplinary discourse that celebrates books an ideas, nourishes intellectual curiosity, and provokes a sense of wonder in the liberal arts.

There’s more, but that gives you a taste.

The more exciting part of our exercise in visioning is that our director has asked each department to create a “watch list” of trends and technologies that we want to, well, watch. Here’s the list from the Reference and Instruction department as it will be presented tomorrow morning.

The Reference and Instruction department will keep and eye on:

  1. Search technology, including federated searching, new search interfaces, new ways to display the search results, and new models for integrating metadata from a variety of sources.
  2. Image and multimedia search and management applications.
  3. Data & GIS in a liberal arts setting and how those fit in with our college initiatives.
  4. Social software and the research applications for using them.
  5. New web publishing models and how students use them for research (wikipedia, mashups, … basically web 2.0).
  6. Applications that help users organize their research and information (personal information management, bibliographic management tools, etc).
  7. Future reference models at peer libraries, including virtual reference and new appointment models.
  8. Licensed streaming video as an alternative to videotape and DVD

I hope this fosters a real sense of informed (not hysterical) interest in the future and excitement in new technologies.

What do you think? We’re still adding to the watch list. What’s something we’ve forgotten?

Published inCarletonLibraries and Librarians


  1. […] that each of us should be scanning the horizon for innovative tools, methods, and services (see my post on Our Vision and Watch List […]

  2. […] stimulating meetings about out library’s strategic plan (my posts about these meetings are here and here, and now a draft of the plan is available online as a pdf). Part of this plan involves […]

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