This article presents the characteristics that would define the perfect vendor for the library (actually librarian) market. First, there's vision. Librarians need vendors who take the long view, practice long-term strategic thinking, and support that thinking with action and commitment. Then, there's goal sharing. The perfect vendor shares librarians' goals and, in a perfect world, that would mean sharing the goals of the perfect librarian. Third, there's universality. Perfection would demand a platform independence that extends well beyond building apps for mobile computing. And finally, there's friendly but firm. Librarians and other info pros love a vendor that loves them.
InformationToday 7 www.infotoday.com June 2010 With Barbara Quint alumni to continue accessing products to The Perfect Library Vendor special offers and discounts in postgrad- uate employment environments. by BARBARA QUINT | additional burden. As we claim how essen- whatever is easy to get or convenient to tial good information is for good decision deal with or most immediately profitable. Perfection may I n my last couple of columns, I talked making by clients, any failure on our part For example, right now open access (OA) not be attainable about a perfect product: the ideal in spotting emerging futures and adapt- and open web data are out of the loop in ebook. The concept of perfection has ing to them (if not entirely successfully, at most information services provided for the but seeking to sung its siren’s song, and I find myself least energetically) damages our profes- library market. But it’s that data that many attain it may humming the tune. sional reputation and the public perception library patrons seek and expect to find. So You remember the mythological tale of our value. Physician, heal thyself. a perfect vendor would hustle and get it to still constitute a of the siren’s song luring sailors to their make itself and library clients look good. divine policy. deaths on the rocks. Still, Ulysses man- Archiving the digital-only content from aged to survive even after hearing the The Process of Sharing Goals publication websites is another example tune. He stuffed wax into his crew’s ears Then, there’s goal sharing. The perfect of the same need to make the library’s col- Basically, when an academic and made sure he was tied to the mast. vendor shares our goals and, in a perfect lection of sources look perfect, complete, librarian decides to license an information Since the crew couldn’t hear his cries to world, that would mean sharing the goals comprehensive, and worth the license fees. service for a campus, the primary motive be set free any better than the song of the of the perfect librarian. All librarians and (not the only one, but the primary) is its sirens, everything ended well. info pros seek to provide clients with the value in serving curricular goals. After the Well, I don’t think I need worry about best information possible to meet their Promoting Universal Access service arrives on campus, the librarians rope burns or advertiser approval. As a needs. In a perfect world, we would pro- Third, there’s universality. Perfection may often put considerable time, resources, wise woman once wrote, “Truth can be vide everyone with the best information, would demand a platform independence and energy in educating and promoting costly, but in the end it never falls short not just the immediate client constituency. that extends well beyond building apps for that service with students. But if the stu- of value for the price paid.” Perfection And commitment to this end, whether uni- mobile computing. It demands servicing dents have no obvious way to continue may not be attainable but seeking to at- versal or even constituency-bound, means the needs of end users throughout their accessing that service after graduation, tain it may still constitute a divine pol- doing whatever is needed, not just what is lives and across their ranges of interests. what was the point of it all? icy. As poet Robert Browning aptly said, familiar. The perfect vendor would go after For example, the perfect vendor selling to Frankly, even today in an imperfect “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his whatever content is needed and, at the the academic market would support any world, I would see this as a deal breaker grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” very least, all the content available. They and all bridges to its services postgrad- So in this world of ours and the loom- would not just limit content gathering to uation, from contracted permission for (continued on page 8) ing second decade of the third millen- nium, what characteristics would define the perfect vendor for the library (actu- ally librarian) market? N e w s B r e a k Let’s Talk
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