Electronic Resources and Libraries is pleased to congratulate Anne Ligon Harding, one of two student travel awards to attend ER&L in Austin, April 3-6, 2016. Read excerpts from Anne’s winning essay and see why we are so excited to have her attend!
Anne Ligon Harding
MSIS Candidate 2016, UNC-Chapel Hill
Carolina Room & Digital Strategy Intern,
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Q: How are electronic resources related to your academic and/or professional career goals, and how will attending the ER&L conference help you achieve these goals?
A: I am currently a second-year master’s student in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a particular research focus on digital strategy and emerging technologies. My program here has included coursework in Digital Libraries, Electronic Records Management, and Human-Computer Interaction, which has helped to cement my interest in user-focused technological innovations in libraries. After graduation, I would be especially interested in library positions that would allow me to both develop sustainable strategies for the growth of digital services an institution offers, and to implement innovative technology programs rooted in the specific needs of that particular community. At the ER&L conference, my interests would particularly align with the User Experience and Emerging Technologies tracks. In my graduate assistantship at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of my most interesting projects has been working with a local app developer to create a mobile app using iBeacon technology to increase access to our programs, collections, and services, and to promote awareness of library resources in an engaging and interactive way. I would be thrilled to have the chance to engage with other professionals engaged in cutting-edge library technology work; it is my belief that active collaboration is often the source of some of the most groundbreaking advancements in the field of emerging technologies, and it would be a tremendous benefit to be able to build my network of like-minded practitioners as I begin my professional career in libraries. The programming in the User Experience and Emerging Technologies would undoubtedly significantly inform my work at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as we work to provide digital access scenarios that resonate with our user base, and I would be excited to incorporate some of the new strategies I learn about at the conference into practice here.
Q: While chatting with a faculty member, she mentions that all the material she needs to conduct research is available on the Internet. She comments that she doesn’t see a need for the library to have a physical presence on the campus. How would you respond?
A: In responding to this faculty member, I would be sure to mention several different aspects of library service that demand a physical library presence. For instance, while she may personally be satisfied with the quantity and variety of resources available online, it is a misconception that virtually all scholarly materials are now available for digital access. Although there is a tremendous and increasing amount of information accessible online, many disciplines still rely on a significant amount of print resources to accomplish their resource. Furthermore, even in instances in which electronic texts are readily available online, print materials still remain a valuable resource, particularly for users with disabilities that may make reading from a screen difficult or impossible. In tandem with issues of electronic availability, it is important to remember that electronic resources are only valuable if people have the means to access them. Many users, even in a university setting, may not have consistent and reliable access to a computer and to the internet, which make the computers provided in the library essential to conducting their research. Finally, I consider the library to be far more than a provider of research materials; although much of the work of a librarian can indeed be accomplished remotely, in-person interaction can be tremendously useful for complex reference interactions or research consultations. Particularly now, as many library collections move online, I believe that some of the most exciting possibilities for libraries in the near future will be related to how we might seamlessly incorporate technologies such as augmented reality into the physical experience of the library to facilitate organic, interactive discovery of library services and collections.