Thursday, 10 April 2008

UKOLN is 30

I’m at the UKOLN 30th birthday bash at the British Library, and this is my first effort at blogging while at the event. Not going well so far; it’s hard to listen, take notes and think of any critical summaries at the same time. I'll have to put the links in later...

Several initial talks have been celebratory and retrospective. We were treated to an interesting digression into naval warfare from an ex-commander of the UK aircraft carrier (or through-deck cruiser, as procured) Invincible, now laid up after 30 years (this ex-commander now runs MLA).

Cliff Lynch spoke about the changes in the last 15 years of UKOLN, as the library changed from being focused on doing traditional library tasks better (library automation) to supporting changes in scholarly practices, leading to “social-scale changes”. He was particularly upbeat about some of the recent UKOLN projects with data engagement, including eBank UK and eCrystals, and their role as part of the DCC.

Lorcan Dempsey gave a typically wide-ranging talk, “free of facts or justification”. He did attempt to show us his first PowerPoint presentation, but instead was only able to show us the error report saying that PowerPoint could not open xxx.ppt! I think everyone should do this… Microsoft, please wake up, you’re doing yourself serious damage. He took us through the pressures of concentration and diffusion in the web world, the big squeeze and the big switch. This is the story of “moving to the network level”. Many library activities are starting to be focused externally, but there is too much duplication and redundancy. Libraries, he said, face 3 challenges: giving specific local value, the “one big library on the web” idea (acronym OBLOW shows not entirely serious), and the old one of sorting library logistics so they truly become supportive of the new scholarly process.

Well that’s it up to the break, I’m off for my cup of tea…


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