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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2004
DOI:10.5062/F4XG9P3B

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Conference Reports

Library Management in a Changing Environment: 25th IATUL Conference
May 30 - June 3, 2004

Patricia B. Yocum
Shapiro Science Library
University of Michigan
pyocum@umich.edu

Krakow, Poland, a splendid city of art, music, science and technology, was the site of the 25th conference of the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL), May 30-June 3, 2004. Hosted by the Library of the Krakow University of Technology (CUT), the conference, "Library Management in Changing Environment," featured plenary sessions, contributed papers, discussions, posters, vendor exhibits and a social program that kept the 130+ participants from 33 countries thoroughly occupied and on the go. An exhibit celebrating 25 years of IATUL conferences, curated by Sinnaka Koskiala, was a conference highlight.

The conference opened on Sunday evening with a reception at the Collegium Mauis, the historic heart of the Jagellonian University established in 1364. From the mid-1800s until 1940 the building served as the University Library and is currently the site of the University Museum with its wealth of special collections including the university's ceremonial regalia, 16th century astronomical instruments and the oldest globe (c. 1510) showing the North American continent. Following a visit to the Aula, the Renaissance hall where special university honors are conferred, attendees were treated to refreshments and conversation before concluding the evening.

Promptly Monday morning the conference opened formally with words of welcome from Marek Górski, Director of the Library of CUT; Prof. Marcin Chrzanowski, Rector, of CUT; Michael Breaks, Retiring President of IATUL; Gaynor Austen, IATUL President,; and Alex Byrne, President-Elect of IFLA. In his keynote address, "Radical Management and the Modern Information World," Dr. Henryk Hollender of Warsaw University eschewed the management training typically offered in library program curricula as insufficient to meet emerging needs. Workers in an organization, he noted, can be no better than the organization as a social and political structure. He urged conferees to understand the external as well as internal factors affecting their libraries. We must see and harmonize the tiniest details and then forget the details and "think big" if we are to profoundly change that which is unacceptable.

Continuing the theme of change management, Prof. Egbert Gerryts of the University of Pretoria elaborated a model to lead and manage library transformation, the most important challenge in contemporary librarianship. External factors are driving change in organizations and causing a paradigm shift from hierarchy to network. Yet the library of yesterday still exists. In such an environment it is important to have a clear picture -- an underlying mental map -- of a preferred future and to update it continually. A three-year rolling development program offers a bridge where management and leadership can meet to produce desired changes. Reiterating the importance of economics in library management, Prof. Jacek Osiewalski and Anna Osiewalska, Krakow University of Economics, presented results of a study using an econometric approach to measure cost efficiency of public and academic libraries in Poland. Noting that constrained finances can encourage creativity, Stephanie Atkins discussed best practices in managing large special projects such as mass bar-coding and transfers to storage facilities and included recent examples from the University of Illinois Library.

Focusing on user-oriented services, the afternoon plenary session featured five brisk talks by speakers from the U.S., Australia, Scotland, and Switzerland. Prof. Alice Trussel, Kansas State University, noted that engineering is now practiced on a global basis, prompting concern over international licensing. Information literacy is essential, a need recognized by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) whose 2000 accreditation standards reflect a shift in emphasis from quantitative standards to qualitative ones. Libraries are well positioned to help faculty meet the new standards especially in the area of ethics training and its documentation.

Rowan Salt of Griffith University detailed the creation, performance, and management of InfoServices, a new unit comprised of staff from library, information technology, and learning services whose goal is to satisfy most patron inquiries upon first contact. Requests are handled in one of three modes: face-to-face, phone and digital (web, e-mail, and interactive electronic) with staff training and change management functioning as key components of the effort.

Assessing library instructional effectiveness can involve a long-term commitment as Richard German noted in his report on GAELS, courseware developed collaboratively by the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. Designed for graduate students in engineering the courseware has since been adapted for use among undergraduates in the natural sciences and humanities. Standard, simple feedback forms measure only the first level of student learning. Assessing a higher level of learning (changed attitude, improved knowledge, increased skills) will require more sophisticated evaluation.

Few other initiatives so succinctly signify user-centered services as MyLibrary. Ursula Jutzi-Müller, project manager, discussed the purpose, planning and implementation of the software at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. A 2001 user survey confirmed patron interest in customizing the libraries' digital resources to their needs. The project required considerable staff work, much programming and many technical adjustments but the end result, MyLibrary@ETH, is a central element of the university's virtual "ETH World."

Digital technology has also opened new possibilities for users to view primary source material. Paul O'Pecko, G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, detailed two major projects which digitized nearly 200,000 pages of mostly archival material. Now offered on the web the sources provide a rich trove of information for historians, meteorologists, oceanographers, genealogists and engineers among others. Further grant-funded research has led to surveying historians about actual needs and desires when using primary sources online.

With barely time to refresh, conferees boarded buses for a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site featuring extraordinary tableaux sculpted in salt by miners over the course of several centuries. Dinner in a massive chamber at 800 feet below ground was a unique (and delicious!) experience followed by dancing to a klezmer band. On schedule, Tuesday's morning program proceeded in concurrent sessions with twenty-one talks in three theme tracks: staff training and professional development; good practices in change management; and regional library cooperation. The afternoon included the IATUL General Assembly meeting, a poster session and the day's plenary session, "Traditional Collection and e-Resources-Policy Dilemma," featuring talks on managing e-collection access, copyright in the digital environment, and the role of vendors in the age of electronic journals and consortia. The official day concluded with a study tour of the Jagellonian University Library.

Wednesday's study tour started at the new campus of the Jagellonian University, several kilometers south of the city center, where the Institute for Information and Librarianship has been relocated in new facilities. The remainder of the day was devoted to cultural study including rafts tours of the Dunajec River and visits to Niedzica Castle and Museum and Zakopane with its regional music, food and dance.

Despite the late night return to Krakow conferees assembled Thursday morning for a final full day of programming. Devoted to regional library cooperation, the plenary session featured a keynote by Murray Shepherd, University of Waterloo, on what makes library collaboration work. Drawing on the multi-year experiences of the TriUniversity Group, he discussed the pivotal role the human element plays and ways in which both individual and organizational aspects can be cultivated to promote successful collaboration. In their talk Ewa Dobrzynska-Lankosz and Anna Sokolowska-Gogut described regional cooperation among 14 science libraries in the Krakow Library Group (KLG). Formed originally to coordinate the implementation of an integrated library system the KLG has subsequently expanded its attention to include acquisitions, the national union catalog, and professional development.

Following six concurrent sessions on job performance, financial issues, and new challenges and structures, the conference moved to its final plenary session with talks on adapting buildings to digital needs, academic library management and reorganization, and organizational adaptation and synergy. As has become traditional at IATUL conferences, Prof. Gerryts provided an intriguing summary of the conference. Reviewing a long list of topics addressed throughout the week, he also named several areas which might merit more attention in future conferences. International partnerships, he noted, promote global health and the quality of life. The major responsibility of leaders, such as those in IATUL, is to create the future by first dreaming it, then doing it.

The conference concluded with a private organ recital in the beautiful Church of St. Mary followed by an elegant dinner in an historic restaurant on Main Market Square. It was an appropriate finale to a very well organized, informative and memorable meeting -- a tribute to the staff at the Library of CUT and a grand way to begin celebrating CUT's 60th anniversary in 2005. For more information on the conference, including photographs, see {http://www.iatul.org/conferences/pastconferences/2005_proceedings.asp}. Conference proceedings will be added to the web site.

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