Lorcan Dempsey’s slides and video from the ‘Squeezed Middle’ have now been made available.  The slides are on the OCLC website here and the video of the presentation is on YouTube here and embedded below.

The video was used during the ‘Squeezed Middle’ workshop to introduce the initial piece of work to look at trends in terms of Collections, Space, Systems and Expertise/Services. 

Reflections on the presentation
The contrast between between libraries that grew up at an institutional scale and now face challenges from organisations that are the product of the network webscale environment was interesting to hear articulated in this way.  Drawing lessons from how other industries have had to adapt, Lorcan referenced John Hagel’s ‘Unbundling the corporation’ paper from Harvard Business Review from 1999 and talked about the trend towards greater specialisation.  Talking about three elements of customer engagement, innovation and infrastructure, and offering up a number of interesting examples from the University of Michigan and elsewere, Lorcan offered the view that priorities for libraries should be around engagement and innovation, with reducing effort going into infrastructure. 

I was quite interested to hear the Discovery solutions characterised as ‘data wells’ with an intriguing question about what other content aggregators such as Thomson and Elsevier might do.  Picking up on the point about a key factor being ‘disclosure’ of your content to the network-scale services such as Google Books and Google Scholar (with a comment about 75% of Minnesota’s SFX requests coming from outside the institution), it does make me wonder what the longer-term role might be of the current generation of ‘Discovery’ services.

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