My employer — the library of the Norwegian university of science and technology, NTNU Library — has recently started a project called UBiT 2010 (this is preferably to be pronounced UBiT two-point-zero-ten.
UBiT is the acronym for the “UniversitetsBiblioteket i Trondheim” — NTNU Library in Norwegian — and the 2.010 relates to the project’s working group’s aims:
By the end of year 2010,
- Use of Web-based library services at NTNU has increased by 50% (from the current 2008 level)
- NTNU Library offers a wide array of library services based on new Web technologies*
- NTNU Library is the leading library in Norway for Web-based library technical skills and services
These are actually quite ambitious aims, and they’re not just “library 2.0” aims either: the library already has a huge number of resources online (over 200 reference databases and several thousand eJournals, as well as federated search), but these are not extensively used, so there is a lot of room for teaching activities in the first point. On the other hand the presentation of these tools on the Web is quite poor, but I’ll return to that in a moment.
The second point entails increasing the offering even more than is already offered to users, and this probably entails changing the way it is offered; we notice that take-up of web-based services is typically slow, even though this is a technological university.
The third point is possibly the most ambitious: interest in the developing library technologies is great in Norway, and there is already a lot of competition. Take a look at Biblioteklabben (The Library Lab), a government funded project aiming to help kickstart library 2.0 in Norway.
The Project plan document, Prosjektplanen, continues by describing the situation today in the following way:
- NTNU Library’s Web-based library services are too static and old fashioned when compared to the services offered by the commercial sector
- Too little use of modern technology in our web-based services
- No common, coordinated effort in relation to development of Web-based services
- Too little and to dispersed skills related to new technologies
- No concrete projects are underway
- A desire from the staff to start concrete projects to develop Web-based services
- NTNU Library has not planned how Web-based services are to be developed and managed
One positive thing is the fact that the staff want to change things, and some worrying things, especially the fact the NTNU Library has not planned for how web-based services are to be managed. From my point of view — being a front liner — I know that a lot of our services need to be integrated, and function as a whole because users just don’t get how the different systems (databases, journal platforms, etc.) we have work, or how they can be so different and yet be part of the material owned by the library.
Being an academic library presents a few very special challenges, especially that of timeframe: we have students for say four to seven years, in that time we have to make them information literate and help them get the literature they need for their BA, and quite possibly MA. Unfortunately, we don’t get them 24/, but maybe for — on average — 10 seconds per week. Oh, and patience is not necessarily any greater with your typical student than it is with any other 19 to 27 year old.
The project plan continues with a nine-point list of concrete measures to achieve the aims of the project outlined above:
- Create a at least ten new services
- Create a prioritized list of the ten most relevant services that the library can offer. Examples: Instant Messaging for user communication, RSS news, RSS course reading lists, RSS for return, replacing static pages with blogs, create and test academic subject blogs and social software, items on loan and orders in our VLE, delivery service, user comments and recommendations in our OPAC. The project should at the same time have a dynamic relationship to the services being developed.
- More demands can be placed on our OPAC: new presentation of data with focus on access, holdings, getting hold of materials and other value-adding services (other patrons also borrowed the following items, other editions, etc.). The project should provide our OPAC group with a specification [of which services we want].
- Describe the technical platform for development of library services
- NTNU Library must decide how Web-based services are to be developed. It is important to define some standards so that several people can participate in development and ensure simple management of the services. Possible frameworks may include Web 2.0 technologies and SOA.
- Establish a workshop for development of / establishing the services
- The project has responsibility for establishing the desired services, either by doing this themselves, or by contracting external actors. The project will place emphasis on using pre-made, standard components where possible. The project should be results oriented. Emphasis is also placed on the fact that the services be implemented as early as possible.
- Create routines that support user participation.
- New services must be tested at an early stage. It is important to establish routines for active user participation, both when designing services early on, and when evaluating the services when they are online. Users must be brought in from the different communities (researchers, students, teachers, technical staff, the arts and humanities departments [my comment: (!)] ).
- Create routines for evaluating the services, internally and by the users
- All services that are put online must be subject to continual assessment. Responsibility for follow-up tasks must be defined and described. Usability tests must (may) be carried out, but the most important thing is contact with users and user participation.
- Develop a skills-development plan
- NTNU Library needs to establish a strategy for how different services are to be developed and how they are to be managed. Taking this as a point of departure, a skills-development plan is needed. The plan must not just include technical staff, but all staff that are affected by the services in all departments. The project will also function as a skills centre that all departments can use.
- Actively seed skills related to new services and technologies within NTNU Library
- The project’s role as a development and skills centre entails that it also has the responsibility of seeding these skills within NTNU Library. Training and external information are part of the project.
- Develop a suggestion as to how the organization can change to meet the new challenges
- Increased focus on Web-based services can place different requirements on the organization of NTNU Library. It is therefore necessary to find out how this type of service will be developed and managed; increased efforts in this respect can change job descriptions and require re-allocation of resources. The project will provide suggestions as to how NTNU Library can best offer and manage this type of service. At project completion, the projct will provide a recommendation for further work.
- Market NTNU Library as a leader within Web-based library services
- The project will disperse information on the Web-based services through lectures, courses and articles in order to profile NTNU as a modern educational institution
The final section “About the project” defines the framework for the project:
- The project is planned to run for three years (2008-2010), and i placed organizationally under the Department for development and co-ordination.
- The project is financed from the library budget.
- The project operates with a framework of at least three man-years per year.
- A requirement for the project is that the necessary sallaries / human resources are provided for the project.
- A project manager is to be appointed in a 100% position.
- The remaining resources are to be requisitioned from the departments.
- In connection with the project, a reference group / think tank of not more than ten actors is to be created from library staff, students and researchers.
- This group will also be responsible for providing ideas for services and solutions to the project.
- The project is to be divided into several sub-projects and will be strongly results oriented.
- A half yearly project assessment will take place, and if clear cut results for users are not achieved, the project may be stopped.
Anyhow, there is a project blog — in Norwegian.
* Actually, this sentence is possibly ambiguous in the original, so I’m a bit unsure as to how I should translate it.
Tags: practical library 2.0