As we interact with special librarians, we observe a trend toward the virtual library—where librarians do not have a central, physical department, yet exercise a broad sphere of influence within their organizations—and serve clients remotely, with content, products and services.
We see this trend as presenting significant opportunities and challenges for special librarians, and are launching a focus group as a means to discuss and share proven practices for virtual library success, and strategies for overcoming obstacles.
The focus group also presents an opportunity for us learn more about virtual library trends, success factors (and challenges) from practitioners—resulting in a better understanding of the capabilities, features and functionality most important to you. In this way, we can continue developing products that contribute to virtual library success and help overcome constraints.
Deliverables resulting from this initiative will include a white paper, a series of blog posts, and possibly an eBook, all promoting the focus group and its work. Ideally, the process will lead to a Hot Topics session at next year’s SLA conference.
We have developed a preliminary list of 10 topics, and we propose a series of virtual meetings that will take place between now and the end of October. There will be an introductory session with all members, a final meeting with all members, and several smaller meetings, each with a focus on 2-3 topics.
Preliminary Discussion Topics
Our list is below; we anticipate that the introductory session will result in additions to this.
- Define Virtual Library
- Drivers of Going Virtual
- What are the Pillars that Support a Successful Virtual Library?
Benefits and Challenges
- Upsides of Virtual Library
- Challenges of Virtual Library
- Success Factors
- Supporting Processes
- Supporting Technologies
- Skill Building
- Embedded Librarians in the Virtual Library
- What services/products/processes are you currently unable to provide, that you want/need to provide?
Happily, a number of people immediately signed up to the focus group when we announced it at SLA in Cleveland, but we want to make sure that everyone who is interested has the opportunity to participate. Will you join us in this important effort?
V. Mary Abraham is an author, consultant and facilitator who has been active in legal industry knowledge management since 1991.
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