Magazine article Information Today

Spring 2008 ASIDIC: As Worlds Collide

Magazine article Information Today

Spring 2008 ASIDIC: As Worlds Collide

Article excerpt

While worlds are certainly colliding in the information industry, ASIDIC's spring meeting--held March 16-18 in Las Vegas--helped negotiate users through the virtual cosmos.

Many collisions are occurring simultaneously, creating dangers to legacy systems, but they are also providing new and expanding market opportunities. The conference organizers posed the following questions to the speakers:

* Will free content knock for-fee content out of geosynchronous orbit?

* Is user-generated content a supernova or a new galaxy?

* Will full-text searching rocket past abstracting-and-indexing services?

* Is Google-Yahoo!-Microsoft (GYM) the evil empire or part of the federation?

* Will open access (OA) warp the space-time continuum of traditional publishing? Three speakers and five panels addressed these issues. Dick Kaser, Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of content, presented the keynote titled A Vulcan Mindmelding, incorporating a number of quotations from the presenters (but more about that later).

Changing Information Delivery

Our world has definitely changed. Keynote speaker Jane Burke, vice president and general manager of Serials Solutions, noted that the previous model of researchers going to a library to search through large collections of print volumes is gone. Even though libraries still have their book collections, the nature of today's collection activity has changed. Libraries are buying lots of electronic content today in many different forms. For example, a recent survey of database licensing practices found that corporate and legal libraries spend an average of $48,000 annually on ebooks, with consortium purchasing accounting for 30% of that amount.

The shift from physical to digital delivery of information has created new requirements and opportunities for delivering effective library experiences. Content is now available anytime, anywhere. The user is now the focus, and libraries must recognize this. Many libraries have access to more than 400 databases, but librarians are still trying to train users how to use individual pieces of information. This no longer works. Many users now access a library remotely, if at all, and this negates the research librarian's traditional role in the research process. Users do not differentiate between print and electronic content. It is futile to try to teach them the difference because their vision of information is often a single source with a unified interface. Librarians must embrace these changes and recognize that they need to adapt to their users' behaviors.

To gain more knowledge of users' information-seeking habits, OCLC has been studying how Millennials and Baby Boomers satisfy their information needs. According to Lynn Connaway, senior research scientist at OCLC, Boomers appreciate authoritative information. They are actively involved in information seeking, value the library as a place, and use technology as a tool. Personalized service is important to them. However, Millennials are less concerned with the format of information. They are visual learners and die-hard multitaskers; they process information as soon as they receive it. Connaway provided some fascinating quotations from some of the participants in the OCLC study:

* "[Google] is user friendly ... the library catalog is not."

* "I'm suspicious of people who are publishing online because usually the peer review is much less rigorous."

* "The first thing I do is go to Google. I don't go into the [library] system unless I must because there are [many] logins needed to get into the research databases. Then it takes you out of that to [the local consortium]."

These results have profound implications for libraries and information providers, showing that although younger people rely on Google as a source of information, they still have issues with the accessibility of library systems, responsiveness of library services, and the trustworthiness of information. …

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