Thursday, June 22, 2006

Blogging in New Orleans

I had lunch today with someone who said he thought the weather was wonderful. He's from the Pacific northwest, and he said he actually missed heat and humidity. He's getting plenty of both here in New Orleans!

Today is the first day of the American Library Association's conference, and the city has certainly taken notice of us. The concierge at my hotel is greeting all guests with Mardi Gras beads and complementary beverages. The local public radio station has run reports during both the morning and the afternoon news broadcasts about what ALA means to New Orleans. This morning, ALA President Michael Gorman said he'd never been prouder to be a member of ALA. Hearing him talk about the volunteer efforts underway today to rebuild the city's libraries and hearing people talk about what the local libraries have meant in the city's efforts to rebuild, I agree with him.

This morning, I was one of 5 presenters at a program on electronic resource management systems. We use a system developed by Serials Solutions, the same group that brings us Central Search and the catalog records that link users to journals in full text in our databases. It was a bit daunting to be on a panel with librarians from places like Yale, Princeton, and Ohio State Universities and Swathmore College, but I was pleased to see that we are in many ways much further along in our implementation of ERMS (one of the most unfortunate acronyms yet) than these much larger libraries. Electronic resource management systems are relative newcomers on the library landscape, and the standards that drive these systems are still being developed. The goal is to make it easier for us to do the behind-the-scenes work of tracking licensing details, collecting usage statistics, and linking resources together so that our patrons can in turn move from system to system much more seamlessly.

And that harkens back to the ideals that make Michael Gorman, me, and others proud in this day and time to be a librarian. We enjoy learning new technologies and figuring out how to make our own work more efficient, but our goal is to provide our patrons with the best access to the information they need, whether it's a mystery novel to read on vacation or information on navigating the bureaucratic maze of disaster recovery.

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