California Academic & Research Libraries

Fifth Annual CARL Conference

1st Plenary Session, Friday, September 19, 1997

Program Summary

The keynote speakers for the beginning of the Fifth Annual CARL Conference were Richard E. Lucier, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Information Management, Director of the Center for Knowledge Management, and University Librarian at the University of California, San Francisco, and Michael Gorman, Dean of Library Services at California State University, Fresno. Both spoke eloquently and thoughtfully about the issues present for contemporary academic libraries.

"The Digital Library: Information Space Complementing Information Place"

Lucier introduced his talk by stating that he was discussing a Knowledge and Management Model and was dealing with Digital Publications in Libraries. He noted that just because he was going to talk about digital formats did not mean he is non-traditional, and that there is a great tendency to polarize discussion in this whole area.

He mentioned the challenges facing the UC Digital Library and the transition phase taking place in the scholarly community. There is uncertainty over the survival of the traditional campus library, and he noted that librarians are not famous for their leadership qualities but now need those qualities to continue this movement of transition. He showed that STM (Science Technology Mathematics) journals are moving from paper to electronic distribution, towards an access model.

He listed some of the areas involved: the scholarly community, higher education, new technologies, infrastructure, funding, human resources, chaos in the marketplace, and organizational culture in the academy none of these areas changing easily or quickly. He spoke of the shared vision aspect of the UC Library and outlined a strategy for progress that included the following components: Resource sharing, Traditional Collection Development, Digital Collections, Collaboration (even beyond UC system), Infrastructure support, Transformation of the Scholarly community and Intensive, Ongoing Planning.

Lucier sees the UC Digital Library being run through the office of the President. Collaboration with commercial providers is vital. He spoke of the paucity of expertise on Digital Library Design and the need to include appropriate specialists, in a design that would complement existing campus libraries. He also maintained that licensing of resources represented a useful transition strategy.

"New Libraries, Old Values"

Michael Gorman began by talking about the cliche "our age of uncertainty." He related this uncertainty to the profession (and that most of us fear change) and its increasing controversy. He expressed concern over the growing gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". He mentioned the core values of the profession, namely: stewardship, intellectual freedom, rationality, literacy and learning, unfettered access to information, and democracy itself - all threatened by the notion of Digital Libraries.

He spoke to the tendency towards alienation and isolation present in the movement towards Digital Libraries, which abolish the sense of place and opportunity for human interaction. He prefers to see library services enhanced by technology but not replaced. He remarked that the Digital Library narrows our choices, and that we need the library as place because we are humans and the library embodies the qualities of learning and culture which we need. He would like to see libraries expand their role, and noted that the poor of our society do not have the luxuries of access to technology and a place to be.

We have a role in stewardship: providing for a collection which is not addressed adequately in digital formats. We are service oriented. Intellectual Freedom is one of our hallmarks and our support of Rationalism is an antidote to aggressive intolerance. Literacy and Learning are imperative, the reading of books in a reflective manner. Access to knowledge should be unrestrained, available to all without fees. He concluded by noting that democracy works only when the populace is well-informed and educated, and that libraries counteract ignorance. He distinguished between new methods and enduring principles, and that we must maintain what our hearts claim to be prominent.

Summary written by Ned Lee Fielden, San Francisco State University.

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