August 19, 2008

Librarians invade Perimeter Institute!

Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I did get your attention.

First of all, I'd like to note that the Science in the 21st Century conference at the PI is coming up in a few weeks:

Science in the 21st Century: Science, Society and Information Technology

Times are changing. In the earlier days, we used to go to the library, today we search and archive our papers online. We have collaborations per email, hold telephone seminars, organize virtual networks, write blogs, and make our seminars available on the internet. Without any doubt, these technological developments influence the way science is done, and they also redefine our relation to the society we live in. Information exchange and management, the scientific community, and the society as a whole can be thought of as a triangle of relationships, the mutual interactions in which are becoming increasingly important.

A reminder of the list of topics:
  • Web/Web 2.0.
    Communication, Social and Information Networks, Wikis, Blogs, Information Overflow, and the Illusion of Knowledge

  • Globalization
    Collaboration and Competition in the scientific community, The Global Village, the Limits of Growth, Science and Democracy

  • Open Access
    Scientific Publishing, Science Journalism, Framing, and the 'Marketplace of Ideas'

  • Sociology
    Ethics, Morals, Trends, and their impact on scientific directions, organization of our communities, fragmentation, feedback, selection, and the ivory tower.

  • Miscellaneous and Other
    Teaching, Information storage, Resilience and the next Generation

The program is pretty well fleshed out at this point and looks very intense and interesting; the list of participants is also starting to look pretty impressive too.

Ah, the list of participants. That's what I wanted to draw attention to. From a quick scan of the list, it looks like there are 11 librarians or library-related people attending. That's about 19% of the attendance! How cool is that!

In any case, here we are:
  1. Börner, Katy (Indiana University SLIS)
  2. Dupuis, John (York University, Toronto)
  3. Howell, Laura (Davis Centre Library University of Waterloo)
  4. Hutchins, Carol (New York University)
  5. Kadlecova, Ivana Laiblova (a former director of Library of Acad Sci Czech)
  6. Losoff, Barbara (University of Colorado at Boulder)
  7. McKiernan, Gerry (Iowa State University)
  8. Munoz, Eeva (University of Western Ontario)
  9. Pritchard, Peggy (University of Guelph)
  10. Rykse, Harriet (University of Western Ontario)
  11. Swoger, Bonnie (Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo)

Of course, it's not really surprising to me that scitech librarians are so well represented at the conference. After all, we're certainly struggling (as all academic librarians, to an extent) to define ourselves for the 21st century. As the way science is done changes, we must change the way we help prepare new scientists for that work. Similarly, we must find a way to make our collections and services relevant and valued in a way that was perhaps more obvious to faculty and students in the past. We must adapt and potentially retool ourselves to respond to the way science is communicated.

At the conference, I would hope that as librarians we would learn a lot from the scientists there, about where they think science is going. What I would also hope is that we library people will be able to make a case for the place we and our librarians have in that future.

(To get 19%, I calculated 11/59, 59 being participants + local organizers. If you know of an error in the way I counted library people please let me know.)

No comments: