Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ONS talk at UPenn Library

On January 21, 2010 I presented a talk at the van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania about "Open Notebook Science and other Science2.0 Approaches to Communicate Research". I had a very interesting chat with some of the folks there who work with my host Shawn Martin.

The role of librarians is certainly changing. When I was in grad school the main interaction I remember is our librarian doing STN searches. Electronic databases were new and very expensive at that time and the librarian's skill was required to query the database in an efficient manner to minimize cost. Students were not allowed direct access.

I remember when I was allowed to ask for a substructure search of cyclobutene systems for my thesis - it felt magical and the results were like gold. There was no way for me to do this using index books. Now this type of search is so routine that students usually look bored doing it for their projects.

The issues for librarians now are completely different. The definition and meaning of scholarship is shifting. Instead of scarce resources, there is an abundance of tools, content and social networks out there - much of it free. Openness in all of its forms is becoming possible and is forcing people to take a position.

I think Shawn's approach makes a lot of sense. He tries to provide options for his faculty and students to choose from without imposing a particular philosophy. My talk was just another example to present.

[My only regret is that I used a new computer without checking the audio settings first and it was set a little too high so the audio quality isn't perfect. Hopefully it is still intelligible for the most part.]


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