Digital Strategies, Gardens and Transformation
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”
― Leonard Nimoy
I work with software and libraries, with databases and digital content. These are my garden. Over 30 years I have tended to my flowers and shrubs and what was once fresh and alive and exciting has given way to the new, more complex but more accessible.
The change is perpetual and renewal is ever present. Where we looked to simply master numbers and account for expenditure using computers today systems extend and reach into every aspect of human life. Digital Systems are the “new” the “exciting” making possible ideas that never before could have been considered. However, they need continuous attention and nurturing because the environment in which we seek to plant them is also ever changing.
At the Nigerian Library Association meeting this coming week, we will see and meet people with all kind of hopes and dreams for themselves and their institutions: improved content, wider access, lower costs. For many people attending they will be seeking to share knowledge with others and from others, exchanging pieces of information. It reminds me of the story told by Arie de Geus former executive of Shell Oil, who researched what makes a Living Company. In it he tells of the value in flocking together and the story of the robin and the titmice two birds but only one of the two was a social bird and as a result prospered better than the isolated robin. Birds that flock learn faster. So do organisations that encourage their employees to flock.
Digital systems, digital platforms, virtual libraries can be seen as (and should be) efficient knowledge distribution systems. To continue with our garden analogy, a watering system that helps to feed plants and flowers. Digital systems need to be constantly tweaked and made relevant to the needs of our users, to make the process of learning more efficient. Steve Jobs was a man with a way of seeing what people needed before they knew it themselves. “Computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionise the way we learn.” That is still true today. Library content feeds the learning process and as that changes so too does the need to redefine our processes for making knowledge easily accessible at the right time.
Library systems are transforming. The organisation today needs something more than a static catalogue. The business, be that an education business or a corporate business or a government department, needs data unification, a knowledge core that is able to share content with different systems, re-purposed, cross referenced, easy to access easy to find the relevant information with a high degree of trust of the source of that data.