Three Questions with Joy Perrin
What must change in our field?
Right now there are more and more unique needs that are harder to meet with traditional library services. I think we need more librarians who can code. I’m seeing firsthand the discrepancy between the things that librarians and patrons want and the software available now. If you can’t buy it, make it. You can collaborate with a programmer, but you need to know how to speak their language and you need to know what’s possible and what isn’t. The answer is that we all need to have at least a working knowledge of programing and data munging/wrangling. Get familiar with working with XML, OpenRefine, and a programing language and you’ll be arming yourself with some powerful instruments of change.
What should endure?
I think the service nature of the library should endure. Most important is the dedication to getting people the information they need as fast and easily as possible. The very best projects are the ones that focus on that aspect of librarianship. It’s hard to imagine anything else about libraries enduring. I hope everything else changes because if it doesn’t, we haven’t done our jobs correctly. Our last dean told a story about how sailing ships had their greatest period of innovation right before they became obsolete. He used it as a warning about how you have to change drastically to stay current rather than just making old things better. I think to some extent he was right.
What are you or your colleagues geeking out on lately?
My immediate group is geeking out over playing with open source software, creating new software, dealing with metadata longterm, and dealing with data in general. For me, I geek out over exploiting technology to produce more content faster. For example, at the TCDL this year, a group from the University of Texas at Austin gave a presentation about how to automatically identify Open Access works and they presented a process for automating putting the items into a repository. Camille Thomas and I have been playing with their method and adjusting it for our needs and I have visions of possibly automating the whole process and integrating it into a software like VIVO someday. I geek out at stuff like that.