Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Opening of the Information Commons
Drummers at the official opening of the Information Commons.
The University of Sheffield's Information Commons was closed this morning for its official opening and I attended along with an assortment of the great and the good. Whenever you have this sort of ceremony someone has to decide who will cut the ribbon (or in this case, unfurl the wall hanging). A feature of this opening was that the University eshewed a celebrity or even someone who just looked like a celebrity but chose instead Mr Harsh Srivastav, one of their 2007 graduates and an ex-president of the Students Union. The reason for this was to emphasise how central students were to the Information Commons and the University in general. Admittedly this line runs well on the recruitment video but it does represent a real shift in perspective.
Harsh repayed the compliment by lauding the University and the library service for their student centred approach and praising the Information Commons building as a great success. Someone commented that he could be a future Prime Minister (of India or Britain).
Librarians sometimes find it difficult to promote the role of the library and of the information professional within their organisation. A user centred approach can help. In academic institutions like universities, colleges or schools; the library should be seen as a central element and the librarian as one of the key players. Industrial/commercial information services are usually seen as a support service but if the concept of a learning organisation is developed then the information professional becomes central. Local authorities may see their public library service as a small and not particularly vital part of their portfolio of services but from the users point of view the library is often the most popular part of what the council does. As Oldham library demonstrates, a modern, well stocked library is not only a popular service but can help with regeneration and community development. Any council that ignores this does so at its peril.