Monday, June 06, 2005

Some Sunday sessions

I went to the Academic Librarians Roundtable on Sunday morning and the session was quite good. It opened with Dana Roth continuing his long series of presentations on exchange rate profiteering by certain European publishers. The RT part of the RT had each table discussing one of three topics and reporting back to the group at the end. The topics were: OA/institutional repositories, strategies for outreach librarians and virtual reference. Each topic generated some interesting ideas from the tables. The breakfast was good but quite basic (scrambled eggs, potatoes, pastries). I guess convention centres aren't noted for their budget value meals.

Another Sunday session was the SciTech Vendor update, featuring three presentations on document delivery by CISTI, The Linda Hall Library and The British Library. The presentations themselves were quite standard marketing pitches, outlining their various collections and ILL services. Each was done quite well -- it's hard to see how anyone could go wrong using any of the above services. I did learn a few interesting things, however. I'd always thought the Linda Hall Library was a for-profit doc delivery service, but I was wrong. In fact, it's a privately owned not-for-profit public library (in Kansas City) which was set up in 1946 by the wills of Herbert and Linda Hall. It operated in their home until 1956. Learn something new every day.

The other interesting bit was a story told by the BL presenter. The BL, according to the presenter, has always been viewed as the source of last resort. If no one else has it, many will finally try the huge and eclectic BL collections and find it there. Well, apparantely recently someone was researching the history of the design of coffee percollators. How to find that kind of weird info? Well, the BL has an extensive collection of old department store catalogues!

At the end of the session, someone in the audience basically asked the BL representative why someone should choose them instead of CISTI. I would like to commend both the BL and CISTI reps for handling the situation diplomatically. No blows were exchanged.


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