I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Stephen Abram yesterday. The Edmonton Public Library brought Stephen in to do some work with their organization, and they generously invited members of Edmonton's library community to attend a portion of their event.
An interaction with Stephen Abram is always thought provoking, often inspiring and generally entertaining, whether it is reading his blog or seeing him in person. Stephen's address was geared toward public libraries, but really it was about libraries and librarians finding ways to keep making a difference in our communities, for law libraries, perhaps our communities of practice.
Stephen provoked some thoughts about content types in library collections with this bullet point from one of his presentation slides:
- Content will (is already) be dominated by non-text (gamification, #D, visual, music, video, audio, etc.)
He asked the crowd what portion of their collections was non-text then showed a slide of headstones with labels like LP, Cassette, Videotape, and CD-ROM. We had a Beta machine in our farmhouse when I was a child. Some of my creative moments are captured and (thank heavens) not retrievable, so Stephens example of changing formats and doing things like keeping circulation statistics for formats that you are not able to add fresh content in was an interesting analogy.
What is also interesting is the limited, but slowing growing selection of content available for law libraries and legal research that is not text. What content you say?
- Fish on Legal Research DVD
- CanLII search instruction via YouTube
- BC Courthouse Library Society Finding Cases on Point
- Supreme Court of Canada archived argument webcasts
- Newspaper website articles with embedded video or audio
- Bob Berrings Legal Research Podcast in the iTunes store
Some will argue that law is text based in nature so focusing our libray collections on text is reasonable. Let the debate begin.