Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Killing the Sacred Library Cows Chat

Edit: MOO! I mean, 

Killing the Sacred Library Cows
Thursday, December 5, 2013
9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific time
#medlibs Twitter chat

Never participated in a Twitter #medlibs chat before? Check out this overview and come on in, we're a supportive community. 

Last week many of us celebrated by killing turkeys and giving thanks.  This Thursday #medlibs chat is going to discuss creating opportunities by killing some cows.  Killing cows!? What does this have to with medical libraries.  Simple... There are many things we do as librarians that we have been doing for years and years without fail and without question.  There are various reason we do these things.

  • Our predecessor was doing it.  
  • We've always been doing it.
  • It is a librarian thing to do.
  • Inertia
Whatever the reason, there are some activities that we do that take up our time and prevent us from spending time on other things such as

  • Outreach
  • Technology
  • Research 
  • Rounding

We know we are super heroes but even super heroes can't do everything at once.  If the Green Goblin is threatening the financial district while Doc Ock is attacking the Department of Defense, Spiderman has to make a choice.

The library environment has changed drastically and is continuing to do so.  The library of 5 years ago is different from the library today.  For example, the iPhone had just been released, there were no iPads and the idea of a "downloadable" ebook had just been introduced by Amazon Kindle.  There were a very limited number of Kindle and certainly not intended for medicine.

Yet many of us are doing the same things we did as librarians 5, 10, 15, 20 yrs ago.  We were stretched thin back then, so there is no way we can now add things to our repertoire without giving up something in return.  We must look at what we do in our own libraries and evaluate whether it is necessary, whether it helps our patrons or helps us.  To really evaluate our services we need to look at EVERYTHING including the sacred cows of the library.  We need to ask ourselves, do we need to check in journals, catalog books, make copies, eliminate the reference desk, fuss with circulation, etc.  The right answers will depend on the library. A large academic library might need to still do cataloging but does a small solo hospital library with 4 shelves (not ranges) really need a catalog system much less spend time cataloging books?  Some of these ideas are dangerous and even somewhat heretical librarian thinking, but I feel we need to discuss them.  For more background on sacred cows and heretical librarian thoughts check out my summary of my keynote address I gave at the Midwest Chapter annual meeting.

We need to look at the opportunities that are available to us and to take advantage of them we will have to slaughter some library cows.  This Thursday's #medlibs discussion at 9pm Eastern will discuss the idea of thinning the herd of library services so that we can grow healthy new opportunities.

Molly Knapp (@dial_m), Amy Blevins (@blevinsa) and Michelle Kraft (@krafty) will be moderating the discussion.  As always we will be using the hashtag #medlibs but if you want to further the discussion before/during/or after the regular Thursday night time use the hashtag #moo.

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