|In my head, this just improved Santa 1,000,000 percent|
I'm doing my last bit of traveling for 2010 and am attending a conference in Houston. Lots of nice folks doing interesting stuff in libraries.
In a lot of ways, traditional public and academic libraries are likely behind corporate entities who have been struggling with business needs issues for decades in data management and deep storage. In an institution such as a library that is asked to store literally anything that it is handed (and make it available to the world on demand), that management becomes a complex issue. Its not enough just to have the item, but that item has metadata around it that describes the item. The web's half-baked manner of tagging, keywords, etc... kind of works, but its not useful for preservation, curation, true findability and longterm use and storage. Ie: Its not enough to just have the thing and have it sitting on a server where Google might find it anymore than a traditional library would be terribly useful without a card catalog.
So. Anyway, that's some of what I work on most days. And its pretty focused at this conference.
The big challenge (not one that really falls into my jurisdiction) will be the mad scramble for the next few decades to turn paper into 0's and 1's, describe it and make it available. Its one thing to have... stuff in a library, just sitting in a box or on a shelf. Its quite another to imagine actually dealing with every page, every picture, every... everything that can be in even the smallest library. Not to mention trying to wrangle the brand new stuff created everyday and all the stuff that's deteriorating on shut-down hard drives, etc.. that never really existed as paper created in the past 20 years.
Its... a big task. So be nice to your local archivist, digital librarian, metadata librarian, what-have-you.
My part is the fun part, and that's working with these folks and trying to provide them with solutions, support, tools, etc... And finding new opportunities for researchers to work together and find one another's work thanks to TECHNOLOGY.
Also, the catering at this thing was really good. I confess to liking prosciutto more than I ought.