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EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY\u2022Number 4 2006
V i e w p o i n t
esearch libraries were among the
\ue000rst to embrace and exploit the

potential o\ue001 the World Wide Web a\ue001ter its debut in the 1990s. They quickly began constructing virtual in\ue001ormation landscapes, including policies, services, and collections that not only shaped but also de\ue000ned the realms o\ue001 possibil- ity within such terrain. In their roles as both terra-\ue001ormers and cartographers o\ue001 these spaces, libraries generally modeled the virtual terrains as electronic coun- terparts o\ue001 physical libraries.

In recent years, gaps have materialized in the virtual terrain, meaning the land- scapes we constructed do not provide certain services, resources, or possibili- ties expected by emerging user popula- tions like the millennial generation.1 These ri\ue001ts o\ue001ten represent \ue001undamen- tal disconnects between the values o\ue001 today\u2019s library users and the historical, core values o\ue001 libraries that shaped the \ue000rst generation o\ue001 online in\ue001ormation landscapes. We classi\ue001y those discon- nects into three categories\u2014technology, policy, and unexploited opportunities\u2014 and discuss ways academic libraries can create next-generation landscapes to address these gaps. I\ue001 academic libraries want to retain and expand their use\ue001ul- ness \ue001or online users in the next decade o\ue001 the Web, these core disconnects must be addressed today.

Library Culture

Research libraries have done little to embed themselves and their resources into the everyday tools, spaces, and activities important to today\u2019s learners.

Disconnects Between Library Culture
and Millennial Generation Values
Libraries must consider changes in both policy and technology to remain
relevant to the next generation o\ue000 students
By Robert H. McDonald a\ue000d Chuck Thomas

Most library in\ue001ormation systems and discovery tools are not easy to custom- ize and remain substantially limited by an enduring library obsession with individual privacy and copyright. Our services and policies are equally lim- iting, seemingly guided more by \ue001ear o\ue001 litigation than any other \ue001actor. Pri-

vacy and intellectual property are more important than ever in a digital age, cer- tainly, but libraries protect both to the point o\ue001 eliminating many capabilities modern technologies otherwise make possible. Consequently, libraries miss out on many opportunities to partici- pate in new modes o\ue001 research, scholar-

Number 4 2006\u2022EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY\ue001

ship, and creative expression. Emerging communities o\ue001 research library users have demonstrated strong pre\ue001erences \ue001or exactly the kinds o\ue001 networked trust-building, collaboration, resource sharing, and creativity that library tech- nologies and policies discourage.2 When they encounter these systems and \ue000nd themselves limited by library culture rather than by technology, how can they help but \ue001eel research libraries are not responsive to their needs?

Perhaps libraries need to revisit their cultural roots and adjust their systems and services \ue001rom this perspective. Almost a century ago, S. R. Ranganathan articulated \ue000ve laws:

\u25a0Books are \ue001or use
\u25a0Every reader has her book
\u25a0Every book has its reader
\u25a0Save the time o\ue001 the reader
\u25a0A library is a growing organism3

These laws echoed the historical, core values o\ue001 libraries, including openness, accessibility, and sharing. Today, Ranga- nathan\u2019s \u201cbooks\u201d are a metaphor \ue001or all in\ue001ormation accessible through libraries. The library itsel\ue001 is part o\ue001 a larger, grow- ing, networked organism, yet individual research libraries still provide a print- centric approach to \ue000nding and using in\ue001ormation. Our systems and policies rein\ue001orce the notion o\ue001 only being able to access what any particular library owns. Additionally, the inter\ue001aces and capabilities o\ue001 these tools are strikingly in\ue001erior \ue001or a generation accustomed to video games and sophisticated e-com- merce services like Amazon or Google.

Despite a \ue001ew encouraging exceptions, such as RLG\u2019s RedLightGreen Catalog inter\ue001ace and OCLC\u2019s Open WorldCat, most libraries have been reluctant to embrace or provide new capabilities \ue001or users. Features such as personaliza- tion and recombination o\ue001 in\ue001ormation resources are pervasive in the external so\ue001tware and systems world, but libraries generally have not demonstrated the desire or intent to adopt these capabili- ties \ue001or users.

Technology Disconnects

Some o\ue001 the key technology discon- nects between libraries and current online communities include:

\u25a0Libraries lack tools to support the

creation o\ue001 new-model digital scholarship and to enable the use o\ue001 Web services \ue001rameworks to support in\ue001ormation re\ue001ormatting (\ue001or example, RSS) and point-o\ue001-need Web- based assistance (multimedia tutorials or instant messaging assistance).

\u25a0Dogmatic library protection o\ue001

privacy inhibits library support \ue001or \ue000le-sharing, work-sharing, and online trust-based transactions that are increasingly common in online environments, thus limiting seamless integration o\ue001 Web-based services.

\u25a0Ubiquitous handheld access is more

prominent thanks to digital li\ue001estyle devices such as smart phones and iPods, yet libraries still \ue001ocus on digital content \ue001or typical desktop PCs.

These stereotypes obviously do not describe every situation. Nonetheless, they indicate the areas in many research libraries that typically need attention.

Policy Disconnects

Drawing a clear line between tech- nology and policy can be di\ue001\ue000cult. For example, how many o\ue001 the characteris- tics o\ue001 current libraries (identi\ue000ed by the list below) are driven purely by technol- ogy or by policy? These traits include:

\u25a0Mainly electronic text-based
collections with multimedia content
noticeably absent
\u25a0Constructed \ue001or individual use but

requires users to learn \ue001rom experts how to access and use in\ue001ormation and services

\u25a0Library presence usually \u201coutside\u201d

the main online place \ue001or student activity (MySpace, iTunes, Facebook, the campus portal, or learning management system)

Not many o\ue001 these issues could be resolved simply by introducing new technology. Conversely, policies used consistently to guide changes in these areas would likely yield substantial results. Similarly, a policy solution might be required to address the \ue001ol- lowing types o\ue001 disconnects between libraries and online users:

\u25a0Deliberately pushing library search
tools into other environments such
as learning management systems or

social network in\ue001rastructure and, conversely, integrating popular external search tools into library \ue001rameworks (such as Google Scholar and MS Academic Live Search or LibX .org)

\u25a0Libraries linking and pointing to
larger sets o\ue001 open-access data that add
context to their local collections
\u25a0Restructuring access to refect use
instead o\ue001 library organizational
Opportunity Disconnects

What are libraries doing now to enable fexibility \ue001or new learners? Too o\ue001ten library culture refexively con- demns the new or little understood creative opportunity o\ue001\ue001ering more fexibility and technological enhance- ment, creating an obstacle \ue001or oppor- tunities either in technology or policy advancements. As an example o\ue001 this, \ue001or years libraries have been obsessed with a single management system theory that has rarely worked. Much like enterprise resource planning initia- tives, one size rarely \ue000ts all, and while a select \ue001ew have been saying \ue001or years that libraries should disconnect their acquisition management systems \ue001rom their discovery tools, it is only within the past \ue001ew years that large academic institutions have started seeing this as a viable option.

Thinking about the ideas discussed here, you might want to ask the \ue001ollow- ing questions about your library. What is your library doing to:

\u25a0Support the user\u2019s a\ue001\ue000nity \ue001or sel\ue001-
paced, independent, trial-and-error
methods o\ue001 learning?
\u25a0Create opportunities to make library

in\ue001ormation look and behave like in\ue001ormation that exists in online entertainment venues?

\u25a0Explore alternative options \ue001or

delivering in\ue001ormation literacy skills to users in online environments and alternate spaces?

\u25a0Apply the typical user\u2019s desire \ue001or

instant grati\ue000cation to the ways that libraries could be using technology \ue001or streamlined services?

\u25a0 Rede\ue000ne administrative, security, and
policy restrictions to permit online

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