EBSLG 2011, HEC Paris: Innovation in Libraries (Part 2)

Day 2 (continued)
Lunch on the second day provided an opportunity to meet Anna Drabble of Emerald (@anna150 on twitter), Head of Digital and Product Development at Emerald Group Publishing, who was the only other person tweeting at #ebslg11 (although there were plenty of lurkers). As well as our shared interest in the impact of social media we discussed the specific matter of live-tweeting at conferences. I find that it helps me to process the events I attend and, of course, it gives access to the event for those unable to attend. I wrote about this issue at some length after last year’s BLA conference and upon reading that post again, apart from being amused to see I was still resisting an iPhone back then (I couldn’t live without now), it made me realise how much more accepted device-use is at conferences, just one year later. I distinctly remember dark looks at last year’s EBSLG when I got my laptop out, but this year, loads of delegates were on iPhones, iPads, laptops, even if only two of us were tweeting.

However, we’re not all the way there yet… one sponsor made the mistake of demanding we switch our phones and laptops off at #ebslg11 – ironically during the mobile tech roundtable! – presumably on the basis that we weren’t concentrating. I refused on the basis that I was tweeting (others could have refused on the basis that they were taking notes) and realising his mistake, he quickly, and unconvincingly, pretended it had been a joke. Today’s speakers need to realise that devices are now part-and-parcel of their teaching experience. If it makes some of them try harder to grab our undivided attention then that can’t be a bad thing! Although doing so by making a whole conference hall do aerobics and air-kisses is probably not for every speaker – apologies Cambridge librarians, but I just couldn’t resist it.

Thorsten Meyer of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW) was the first speaker after lunch (and now the new president of EBSLG – congratulations!) on the topic of Open Innovation, the process by which customers are actively integrated into the innovation process via Web 2.0. At ZBW open innovation has been employed by ZBW labs and for an ideas competition: The EconBiz challenge. Essentially, ZBW is sourcing input form the outside world in order to improve and develop new and existing products. One soundbite from this session that I particularly liked (tweeted by @anna150): It is important to have good ideas – but an idea is not yet an innovation…

Veronique Mesguich, Library Director of the Leonardo Da Vinci University spoke next. There were plenty of ‘take-aways’ from her session. Firstly, the simple statement (that I think I’ve been saying since circa 2001): ‘We are in the age of access not property’. Secondly, the observation that librarians are more like teachers and teachers more like librarians (because the latter are searching for, and retrieving, more data from the web with which to present). Finally, the fact that librarians now have many new territories and, because of this, collaboration with those already in these territories is key. She talked specifically about ‘soft empowerment’ as her preferred approach to this collaboration.

I personally find that because ‘the game has changed’ and librarians now must actively embrace technology and marketing that I am perceived as encroaching on other departmental territories more and more and it is a challenge to square that with all parties. I agreed with Veronique and, later, Dominic of MBS, that communication, listening and building relationships is key. Unfortunately there is sometimes little difference between positioning and empire-building in the eye of the beholder. I guess I just have to try harder to be understood and to make it clear that what we’re about offers the opportunity for collaboration and a fuller overall service to our users and does not constitute a threat. After all, we’re all cogs which go to make up a larger organisational mechanism.

The remainder of the afternoon was given over to the Bazaar of Ideas which this year saw the following projects/topics explored: implementation of an open-source LAS system at INSEAD (Pascale Pajona) – very neat it is too; a database of research publications at University of Paris Dauphine (Andre Lohisse); library book events and social reading at HEC Paris (Sylvie Marion); Manchester Business School’s excellent Business Research Plus blog service (Dominic Broadhurst); more on the EconBiz challenge at ZBW (see above); development of the Cranfield Research Information System (CRIS) (Mary Betts-Gray); use of Twitter at EADA library (Carolina Sanmartin); and finally, my own presentation on our adoption of a WordPress blog as the new front-end of our service here at Judge.

Thanks to my switched-on team the demo involved some instant chat (a component of the new site) in French for the benefit of the continental audience. As each of us taking part in the Bazaar had to present 4 times with the audience circulating, I found it interesting to see how I could improve on my content and flow as I progressed, with the third session probably  the best and the first outing definitely the weakest. Practice absolutely does make perfect. The prezi presentation I used is available by clicking on the image below.

The Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

The day was rounded off in style with a virtually private tour of the Palace of Versailles which is usually heaving with visitors. The Hall of Mirrors was my  particular highlight due to its historical significance as the venue of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, although it was also great to see the door through which Marie Antoinette fled when the French populace stormed the palace at the outset of the Revolution in 1789.

Versailles was followed by a return to the HEC Campus in Jouy-en-Josas and the gala dinner at the CRC castle at which the company and  food was superb and the wine flowed freely.

Next time in my final #ebslg11 post (Part 3 of 3): Google Books; the impact of mobile technologies and social media, and a visit to Maxim’s.


3 thoughts on “EBSLG 2011, HEC Paris: Innovation in Libraries (Part 2)

  1. libreaction says:

    It was. Yes Prezi is now my presentation tool of choice. This lunchtime we’re running the 2nd of 3 workshops for business school staff and students on how to use it. Lots of interest.


  2. Sarah Stamford says:

    Thanks for posting such a comprehensive and readable update. it seems the presentation from ZBW about innovation lead neatly into the next speaker’s stuff about putting ideas into practice through “soft empowerment” and not being seen as “threatening” or a challenge. Putting the two together, it seems to me librarians have to become adept at both working a strategy and implementation plan while at the same time anticipating the objections of others and allaying their concerns. In practice this can be difficult to do if communication is limited …..
    I like the “Bazaar of Ideas”, would that be good for the libs@cam conference? And is there any chance of your giving us a talk about your new website some time?
    Eagerly awaiting Part 3.


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