Johann van Reenen
University of New Mexico, UNM Libraries, and the Ibero-American Science & Technology Education Consortium, Albuquerque, NM, USA
Advances in information technology have created the potential for global markets, virtually integrated work and workplaces, and international workforce development on a scale never before imagined. To capitalize on these developments, countries, organizations and their leaders need to understand the potential, the challenges, the policies and the attitudes that will be required for success in the electronic environment. This chapter provides an overview of the major technology and management trends and the formative role of digital libraries and information science. The characteristics of the 21st century, emerging trends for libraries and information management, knowledge management and technology driven changes, and the response of libraries to these trends are discussed. Finally, the potential of these changes for Latin America is explored.
In a foreword to a special supplement of Nature on "Science in Latin America: A rare chance to progress", Colin Macilwain (1999)1 says:
The relevance of excellent research to the needs of poor countries is often called into question, and scientists in the region are under growing pressure to prove the relevance of their work. Most welcome the chance to work on problems of economic or societal importance. But societies will develop during the next century primarily on the basis of their access to knowledge. In the long term, therefore, countries in the region will benefit by supporting the pursuit of good science for its own sake.
Access to knowledge is probably the most critical component for success in the evolving electronic global economy. This chapter will explore this changing world in the broadest context and what it portends for society and economies in Latin America.
The traditional functions of libraries have been changing during the last decade or more and are likely to change even more dramatically and rapidly in future. These changes are driven by new technologies and new demands placed on libraries by academic administrators, faculty, researchers, students, and the larger economy. Diana Marcum, president of the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, DC, expects that: "On a practical level, a host of changes are in the offing - in the relationships between an institution's library and its information technology division; in the way collections are acquired, organized, and delivered; in the design of library buildings and facilities, in the participation by libraries in consortia; in financial models for libraries; and in the nature of the library's leadership needs." (Marcum, 20002 p.2). To this we can add the overarching socio-economic driving forces which are impacting the way we live and work in an information-based and globally connected society.
The shift from an industrial to information age has altered the nature of the workplace, the worker, and the work. Workers in the Industrial Era were usually located in urban factories doing repetitive and routine work, often on an assembly line. Productive workers were seen as those who were reliable and passive and good at manual work.
Whereas workers in the Information Era can work anywhere with electronic connectivity and can work flexible time schedules. They are required to be innovative, learn quickly and continuously, work collaboratively, and be comfortable with experimentation and risk taking. They require less supervision and more coaching and vision from their leadership.
Information Era leaders and managers therefore have to lead and manage very differently from those of just a decade ago. This chapter will explore these changes in the context of library and information workers and the development of "digital libraries" and collections of digital content across the academic and research landscapes. The immense impact of these changes on academic and research institutions and the economy-at-large will be illustrated.
Characteristics of the 21st Century
Pervasiveness and Growth of Technology
Disequilibrium and Unprecedented Change
Complexity and Paradox
Organizations who want to succeed in the 21st Century must adjust to new leadership and management realities brought about by six primary characteristics of the new century (Tetenbaum 19983):
Technology: The infomedia industries (computers, communications, and consumer electronics) are capitalized at $3 trillion. The new technologies increase efficiency, productivity, speed of production, and consumer power. This creates an attractor condition (Friedman, 19984) that leads still more people to adopt technology and IT becoming increasingly more affordable.
Globalization: Increasingly large numbers of people all over the world are interconnected in the flow of information, money, or goods; thus interdependence is growing.
Competition: Globalization and technology have led businesses to compete fiercely for a worldwide market share. Small companies can out-compete large, established companies based on flexibility and technological innovation.
Change: 21st Century changes are discontinuous and happening at a geometric rate. Organizations must be sufficiently agile to be instantly reconfigurable to meet new demands. The disequilibrium created is unprecedented in our history. The novelty of change is increasing. The environmental changes occurring are so different from earlier conditions that organizations are disconnected from experiences that informed past decisions and it becomes less and less feasible to learn from past experience and tradition.
Speed: The incredible increase in technological speed is matched in business by fast paced product life cycles (measured in months not years) and in people's lives (most of us feel we are running as fast as we can merely to stay in place).
Complexity and Paradox: Paradoxes will be ubiquitous in the new millennium and will present a significant challenge to managers. The above factors in combination contribute to the complex and unpredictable nature of our current existence.
The above characteristics can be debilitating if not confronted with new attitudes and skills that allow us to approach them in an opportunistic light. Halal (1999)5 provides such an optimistic vision of a coming era of prosperity and growth made possible by corporations that foster learning at every level and promote enlightened cooperation. He proclaims three fundamental principles that organizations must adopt to survive and grow:
Entrepreneurial freedom - not centralized planning - is needed to compete successfully in complex global markets.
Cooperative exchanges of information, not closely guarded power, make a company stronger and more efficient.
Knowledge and spirit - not material assets alone - make progress possible.
He thus suggests three major goals for organizations: creating an internal enterprise system, forming a network of cooperative alliances, and leveraging knowledge. The latter implies enhanced roles for information professionals.
Technological development often seems to force chaotic change on human culture. Some respond by ignoring it; others try to purposefully block it, and must live with the consequences. A society which ignores technology places its people at a disadvantage and, ultimately, at great economic risk. Important socio-technological ideas are currently percolating. Some will emerge as viable long term trends which will reshape economics and academics. In the areas of library and information science, these are:
Using the Internet for advertising, buying, selling and, in some cases, delivering goods and services is currently the most significant economic trend. New industries are emerging and old ones are getting a new lease on life. E-commerce is based on digital inventories ("libraries") of people, products and services. Indications are that the widespread adoption of e-commerce will result in more efficient ways of doing business and that benefits will exceed the initial costs. The efficiencies brought about by e-commerce are expected to result in changed employment opportunities and faster innovation driven by customer expectations. This is explored in greater detail in chapter 2.
Using the Internet to stimulate and manage innovation
Increasing numbers of companies are using the Internet to stimulate and manage innovation by putting the best new ideas into the hands of the people who can turn them into products more quickly than their traditional counterparts. In management circles, it's called "knowledge markets." (Stepanek, 19996). The notion is that large companies can harness the Web with small entrepreneurial teams to drive innovation at a rate they've never before experienced. This is a way to bring the startup mentality inside large existing companies.
The majority of library services are becoming Internet-based and many successful models for serving customers at-a-distance have been pioneered by libraries as will be seen in other chapters.
Freelancers on the Internet who work for more than one company at a time and contract for specific long or short-term projects are creating an "e-lance economy". We see it in the emergence of virtual companies, in the rise of outsourcing and telecommuting, and in the proliferation of freelance and temporary workers. Even within large organizations, we see it in the increasing importance of ad-hoc project teams referred to above and in the rise of "intrapreneurs". Managing such a massive and unpredictable explosion of capacity and creativity would have been beyond the skills of even the most astute and capable executives. The Internet had to be self-managed. Malone & Laubacher (1998)7 speculate that " The Internet is the greatest model of a network organization that has yet emerged, and it reveals a startling truth: in an e-lance economy, the role of the traditional business manager changes dramatically and sometimes disappears completely." This has lead them to wonder if big companies will become obsolete, replaced by smaller, more flexible companies.
E-Ink and E-books
Electronic publishing, already a growing force in scholarly communications, will benefit from recent developments in developing E-ink. Electronic ink technologies aim to develop high-resolution displays for personal electronics and laptop computers, and eventually electronic books and digital wireless newspapers. E-ink provides significant advantages over traditional flat-panel technologies, such as flexibility, ultra-thinness, and larger sizes. Information provided in this way can be updated remotely and offer a contrast equivalent to printed media.
Electronic book collections are already commercially available, such as NetLibrary, but are still based on "traditional" digitization, storage and access methods.
Both these technologies will have significant impact on the physical space that printed collections require and on the portability of personal reading.
Telecommuting and Virtual Work
As the trends discussed above develop and mature and as information technology becomes more pervasive, the structure of the traditional work environment is changing. A number of alternatives are emerging where work is performed at remote locations. Existing work practices and managerial strategies are often not appropriate in this environment. "Telecommuting" refers to employees who work in their homes rather than in offices provided by the organization. (Fritz, et. al., 19988). Telecommuting provides an attractive work alternative for many companies as it can lead to reduced costs, enable access to workers with key skills regardless of their location, and provide employees with the flexibility to meet changing life-style demands. Electronic communication with colleagues and management plays an integral role in the efficient performance of organizational work. The virtual worker and "telework" will be discussed in greater detail in the next section because of the far-reaching impact this may have on the manpower and employment issues facing developing as well as the developed countries.
"The traditional system of management, based on the purpose of maximizing the shareholders' return, is the most well-designed system imaginable to produce consistently mediocre results." (Senge, 19909)
What then must organizations do to manage successful change and integration into the information economy? "Systems thinking" is a powerful way to see the patterns of interdependency that cut across boundaries and drive change and management systems globally. In organizations, the pressure for showing short-term results and fixing symptoms predisposes us to ignore the underlying causes. So all the problems just keep coming back.
Senge (1990)10 shows that thinking systematically, one soon realizes that many of the most important leaders in any organization are scattered all over the place. They are team leaders, business unit heads, engineering group leaders, and local line leaders. Executives are important for initiating change, but so are any workers who network internally and who stimulate new ways of working in loose communities within the organization. Systems thinking refer to the ability to see beyond the surface details and to realize that what currently may make sense to everybody, may soon land the organization in more trouble. Traditionally, we use the term "intuition" to cover what Senge (1990)11 calls "systems thinking." Much of this is primarily done intuitively while our formal education process tends to focus on analytic thinking, not on systems thinking. We will explore this in greater detail later.
New ways to measure
Nature does not measure. Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a renowned statistician, said that 97 percent of what matters can not be measured. Unfortunately, management often seems to focus 97 percent of their attention on measurable outcomes, which means that they are spending most of their time on things that don't matter.
Companies like VISA International, Shell Oil, Toyota, Scania and Interface have found that the key to success is not obsessively measuring costs and profits but in nurturing the passion, imagination, creativity, persistence, patience, caring and desire of workers to contribute. These organizations are managing performance in a way that is more consistent with how nature works. (Senge, 1999 a & b12)
The subjectivity and inadequacy of measures become clear when frontline supervisors explain what makes a work group successful and comprises a great team. They usually mention the same things - energy, vision, imagination, and excitement - intangible assets which are difficult to measure. Yet, managers often attempt to drive change by what can be measured. Senge (1999 a & b)13 points out that precise measurements do not exist in nature, but patterns do. Much of our perceptual apparatus is designed to give us the ability to perceive ratios greater than and less than rather than abstract numbers. Ratios make up the essence of all pattern information. The ability to recognize increasingly complex patterns is becoming crucial for survival and success in the electronic environment.
Learning from chaos and complexity
The incorporation of ideas derived from Chaos and Complexity theories into management thinking is a significant new trend. Such theories enable us to understand why the power of a new technology and electronic networks can unexpectedly and fundamentally change the way we work. The success of the Linux version of the UNIX operating system are seen by some organizational leaders as an accident of hackers in cyberspace but they miss the lessons learned. Malone & Laubacher (1998)14 show how it models a new type of community composed of a temporary, self-managed gathering of diverse individuals engaged in a common task. In fact, this may be a new kind of business organization that could form the basis for a new kind of economy. The fundamental unit of such an economy is not the corporation but the individual. Tasks are not assigned and controlled through a stable chain of management but rather are carried out autonomously by independent contractors. These electronically connected "freelancers" (Malone & Laubacher,199815) join together into fluid and temporary networks to produce and sell goods and services.
Developing new assets
It becomes clear from the above that systems thinking highlights the intangible qualities that make an organization excellent. Intangible assets dominate the information economy and communication is a major building block. Five important intangible assets are employees, our stakeholders, customers, community/public opinion, and leadership. In the new economy information, communication and relationships are a company's most important assets. Respected former Citibank CEO Walter Wriston phrased it thusly: "We have long said that information is power now it is also wealth" (Johnsson, 199816). The switch from products to services and the significance of brain-ware over hardware add to the growing irrelevance of traditional balance sheets. Many of the new assets - employee commitment, customer satisfaction and retention, investor loyalty, respect among opinion builders, confidence in the leadership - are build on mutual respect, relationships, and constant communication of values, company information, and ideas. Communication is key!
The transformation of management and leadership
"Chaos often breeds life, When order breeds havoc." --Henry Brooks Adams
All the above are leading to a transformation of how we lead and manage. We see this already in the development of the Internet, which works because everyone involved with it willingly conforms to certain technical specifications but to few rules. No one needs to ask for permission to become a network provider or a service provider or a user; one just obeys the communication protocols that govern the Internet. Malone & Laubacher (1998)17 believe that standards are the glue that holds the Internet together, and standards will be the glue that binds temporary companies together and helps them operate efficiently. They see large companies that remain in the future playing an important role in establishing rules, standards, and cultures for network organizations operating partly within and partly outside their own boundaries. The key role for many individuals - whether they call themselves managers or not - will be to play their parts in shaping a network that neither they nor anyone else controls. Most of the necessary building blocks such as high bandwidth networks, data interchange standards, group-ware, electronic currency and venture capital are in place. Most organizations and their leaders cannot conceive of a completely new economy where much of what they know about doing business no longer applies. Imagination is lagging behind technology and many are unaware of the influence of two groundbreaking theories derived from physics that may provide a greater understanding of the need for new information and management structures.
Although Edward Lorenz described "chaos theory" at MIT in the 1960s, only in recent years has it emerged as a model for explaining the chaotic business and work environments. The chaos model introduces the idea that chance, changing conditions and creativity can enter a complex system at any point and alter its course. Therefore, in addition to anticipating and responding to change, businesses have another, more powerful option: They can influence change as it is emerging (Sanders, 199818). While chaos theory helps businesses understand how markets and the work place change, we must look to "complexity theory" to manage people and information successfully in an uncertain and volatile environment.
The science of complexity studies the fundamental properties of nonlinear feedback networks, particularly those complex networks that are adaptive. Complex adaptive systems consist of a number of components interacting with each other according to sets of rules that require them to examine and respond to each other's behavior so as to improve their behavior and thus the behavior of the system to which they belong (Stacey, 1996 a & b19). Since these continuously learning systems operate in environments that consist mainly of other learning systems, they form a co-evolving supra-system that is self-organizing.
Chaos as a Self-Organizing Entity
Most readers are familiar with the phenomenal success of Silicon Valley, but how was it "created or managed"? Such geographical economic development events provide real life examples of this paradox of rules and randomness. The existence of Silicon Valley can be attributed largely to the intersection of distinguished research centers at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley and the availability of skilled labor. These are the "rules". While Silicon Valley is unique, other high-tech economic areas have emerged in Austin, Texas, the Triangle Research Center of North Carolina, and the Boston area's Route 128. Their emergence shares a commonality with Silicon Valley in that they, too, arose in areas providing excellent educational institutions and skilled labor. Thus, while these centers differ from one another, clear patterns can be detected: The availability of advanced technology, which attracts electronics manufacturers which, in turn, attracts component suppliers and support companies. The "rules" or common features in these patterns of geographical economic development would seem to suggest that they can be deliberately created, yet when governments attempt to artificially create these geographic concentrations, they often fail (Eisenhardt & Brown 199820). This illustrates the "randomness" of chaotic systems. Chaos is self-organizing and no individual or organization was in charge of creating a high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, it "emerged" based on some natural rules and capitalizing on randomness. It is a prime example of how spontaneous self-organizing systems produce extraordinary outcomes out of chaos.
The Internet and global marketplaces represent yet other types of self-organizing systems. No one is really in charge of the Internet, which is still in the process of evolving. Nor is any particular country or organization in charge of global markets, yet considerable coherence emerges from millions of independent, but connected, decisions. The success of both these developments is undeniable. The implications of insights derived from these theories for managers and leaders will be discussed in a later section.
MAJOR POINT: Leaders need to understand the concepts and management philosophies that drive innovation and success in the information era. It is critical to allow less control and more creativity and risk taking in everyday business.
The Virtual worker and telework
Group Support Systems and collaborative technologies
"All aspects of work and business - all products, all activities, all methods - have an information structure at their core that has long been hidden, just like the genetic codes of plants." (Maruca, 199921)
Successful organizations are beginning to understand and organize internal (company) and external information and manipulate its structure for economic advantage. According to Maruca (199922), traditional companies share characteristics with traditional farmers. Farmers followed the same model for centuries of applying improved methods of cultivation incrementally through continual refinement of these methods. This served them well. The advent of genetic engineering, however, changed all that. Genetic engineers changed the nature of corn, soybeans, orange trees, and other crops. They increased yields by 300%, as well as resistance to disease. Eventually they found ways to improve other aspects such as taste and color. They did this at the genetic level by manipulating the information within these products. Farmers can ignore the genetic engineers and go on using all the old, established methods, but they would find it more and more difficult to compete in a marketplace where others are using these advances. The benefits of genetic engineering are too great and too revolutionary. The greatest value in business will ultimately reside in the information within business methods rather than their outputs. As Maruca (199923) pointed out, "There is, after all, more value in manipulating the information structure of the gene than there is in being a farmer. There is more value in being a user of electricity than in being a producer of electricity. There is more value in Microsoft's intellectual property than in its products. Any business that thinks it is somehow insulated from the information revolution isn't likely to succeed in tomorrow's economy."
Managing your organization's information to improve organizational learning and success is knowledge management. We generally focus on the qualities of information which are relatively easy to manage, such as its capacity to be stored, processed, and transferred in vast quantities. Information is treated as an entity compatible with established organizational systems and channels of communication. However, information by itself has little value, much like an isolated fact; it is only when information interacts with other information that it acquires significance and value. Organizations understand this and generally try to have formalized ways of transforming information into useful knowledge. However, informal networks, often personal rather than institutional in nature, have proved most effective (Maas, 199824). Formal systems favor codified information, thus inhibiting innovation. Informal networks, on the other hand, may produce surprising or troubling information; the very kind needed to stimulate genuine change and innovation.
Maas (199825) cautions against institutionalizing informal information networks, which would deprive them of their power. He says that we may have to accept that an organization can do little to encourage informal information flow, but an organization can and should avoid discouraging this flow. The managerial qualities of experience and judgment, not more systems, his study suggests, are what enable organizations to make effective use of information gathered serendipitously.
Knowledge Management Strategies:
The increasing importance of intellectual assets have compelled executives to examine the knowledge underlying their businesses and how it is used. Some companies automate knowledge management; others rely on their people to share knowledge through more traditional means.
Organizational learning (Agres, et.al., 199826; Senge 199027) has become an important concept in management. Improvement of learning processes is viewed as one of the major determinants of organizational effectiveness (Cherniss & Adler, 200028). Maas (1998)29 defines organizational learning as the process by which one unit acquires knowledge from another unit in the same organization. Individual level learning occurs when solutions from one unit are matched to problems of an individual from another unit (problem-solution exchange). Organizational learning occurs when
the problem-solution exchanges and consequences are communicated and known by other organizational members (broadcasting),
there is some form of organizational memory that stores problem-solution exchanges and consequences (memory), and
there is a mechanism for organizations to share their interpretations about the problem-solution exchanges and to update the organizational memory about their experiences (updating).
Organizational learning increases as more workers have an understanding of and accessibility to an organizational memory and as more people can potentially update the organizational memory.
MAJOR POINT: The demands to build effective organizational learning processes in distributed environments are likely to accelerate especially when combined with the rapid developments in information technology.
Companies approach knowledge management in different ways, depending on the nature of their business and their technological capabilities. Below are two examples of knowledge management strategies.
Codification of KM: In some companies knowledge is carefully codified and stored in databases where it can be accessed and used easily by anyone in the company. Such reuse saves work and reduces communications costs.
Personalization model of KM: Another strategy is to tie knowledge closely to the person who developed it and to share it mainly through direct person-to-person contacts. The main role of information technology at such companies is to help people communicate knowledge, not to store it.
Hansen, et.al.(1999)30 advises that an organization's choice of strategy should not be arbitrary, but depend on the way the organization serves its clients, the economics of its business, and the people it hires. "Different strategies requires different drivers and knowledge managers must decide whether the "economic of reuse" or an "expert economics" applies in their organization." Where the efficient reuse of codified knowledge is essential because the organization deals with similar problems over and over, both customers and workers benefit from codified knowledge management. Organizations that offer customers advice that is rich in tacit knowledge will require a personalization model. The process of sharing complex and intuitive knowledge is time consuming, expensive, and slow. It can't truly be systematized, so it can't be made efficient, however, information technology empowers both of these approaches.
Strong leadership is needed to clarify an organization's knowledge management needs and to institute the incentives that will encourage workers to participate in the knowledge sharing process. The two knowledge management strategies discussed above call for different incentive systems. In the codification model, managers need to develop a system that encourages people to write down what they know and to get such documents into the electronic repository. Thus the level and quality of employees' contributions to the document database should be part of their annual performance reviews. The personalization method requires incentives that reward people for sharing knowledge directly with other people.
Investments in information technology also differ depending on the chosen knowledge management system. For example, significant investments in IT support is critical for the codification model but less important for the personalization model. (Hansen, et. al. 199931)
MAJOR POINT: Organizations should understand what type of knowledge management system best suits their needs and the technology and other resources required to created such a system.
The Virtual Worker and Telework
Telework is driven by computers, email, voicemail and the Intemet and marks the transition from working in the industrial age to working in the information age.
The potential strategic and competitive advantages of the mobility and flexibility provided by virtual work environments are beginning to impact all types of enterprises.
Organizations and their workers see many benefits in virtual work and such as lower real estate costs, higher productivity, increased flexibility and others discussed below. Davenport & Pearlson (1998)32 identify five common arrangements:
"telecommuting" refers to situations in which workers with fixed offices occasionally work at home
"hotel"-based workers come into the office frequently, reserving a cubicle where they can use the telephone and link their laptop computers to the network
the "tethered worker" has some mobility but reports to the office on a regular basis
"home" workers work entirely from a room in their homes
"fully mobile" workers are on the road or at customer sites during the workday
More and more, all work places are managing alternative work arrangements usually mixing virtual and non-virtual offices and activities. The number of telecommuters in the US rose to 15.7 million in 1998, and there are estimated to be as many as 18 million telecommuters in 1999 (Alexander, 199933). Research such as that of Hill, et.al.(1998)34 indicates the following benefits:
Improved quality of work life, morale, and less stress
Better balance of work and family, with less commuting pressure. Research in this area is contradictory as will be seen below
Enhanced job performance and productivity. Studies on the influence of the virtual office on productivity note increased work effectiveness and greater productivity in the "anytime-anyplace" office. Conventional wisdom is that telecommuters may give back about half of their commute time to the company in the form of longer work hours (Nilles, 199735)
Increased ability to recruit from larger pool of talent as well as ability to retain workers
Environmental conservation due do fewer people commuting
Some organizational cost efficiencies (Tapsell, 199936) and potential saving of office space
Greater flexibility in the location and timing of work
Organizations who are moving toward telework may loose some of the benefits of traditional office arrangements such as a shared understanding of the corporate culture; a sense of loyalty; informal communication; access to people, information, and materials; and managerial control. Good communication has traditionally been dependent on physical proximity as employees working in conventional offices have attended meetings. Workers develop alliances, think through problems, and learn from each other through communication and conversation with coworkers as a way of getting work done. In addition, individuals must communicate with colleagues to find out about and adjust to shifting organizational priorities and coordinate the performance of interdependent tasks. Other negatives may include a loss of teamwork and some scholars say that the virtual office may blur the boundaries between work and home life (Jones, 199737). Virtual work may also add new levels of complexity as employees attempt to deal with flexibility, personal and family life and new technology and behaviors. In the latter case they may have to adjust to isolation and will have to learn to compensate for social breaks by maintaining contact via phone, email, or visiting the office.
As we have seen, measuring output is another challenge as close supervision is not an option, nor a good practice. Managing from a distance requires objective standards of measurement to assess progress, give feedback and set timetables as well as continuous training.
MAJOR POINT: Whatever the advantages and challenges of virtual work and workers, this trend is here to stay and will impact leadership and the management of information workers as will be discussed later.
Security issues will permeate the workplace of the future even more than they currently do. Data storage and computer security will be discussed in other chapters by Jordan, Abat Mota, and Fox.
Organizational information is an important asset and creator of wealth. Securing access to such information to different levels of users and customers will become increasingly important. For instance, what controls will apply to virtual workers and how will organizational knowledge that goes offsite, be guaranteed? Tapsell (1999)38 suggested the following list of concerns:
The extent to which information is known outside your organization
The extent to which information is known to organizational personnel
The value of the information to the organization and its competitor
The amount of effort or money spent to develop the information
The ease or difficulty with which the information can be accurately duplicated by others
The potential consequences of its disclosure outside of the organization.
MAJOR POINT: The security of competitive information and software systems must be balanced with selected openness to allow cooperative exchanges of information with another organization (even the competition) when both can benefit.
Group Support Systems and Collaborative Technologies
Telecommuting and any form of electronic work require the correct tools. For the types of workers we discussed above that means having an armory of reliable, portable tools which facilitate communication, organization, and performance. Such technology, however, is not only essential for telecommuters, but is also used by those working in the conventional office. In addition, technical support must be available for both groups.
An array of new information technologies is available: the World Wide Web; electronic mail and other Internet services; desktop video conferencing and application sharing; workflow software; group-ware work environments with scheduling, discussion, contact, and other shared work tools; intelligent agents; nomadic computing and many other telecommunication support systems.
Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) holds great importance and promise for the new workplace and for society at large (Mills, 199939). Organizations will need to improve the ability of teams to work together through networks of computers.
People who work together in cross-functional or even cross-organizational teams must quickly establish a work plan, divide up tasks, and determine means of coordination and self-regulation. Often team members work asynchronously, but their work must still be coordinated effectively.
Problem resolution, idea generation and innovation are enhanced when using group support systems. From a theoretical perspective, electronic communication can provide three components that may significantly change information exchange: parallelism, anonymity, and group memory. Parallelism is the ability for all members to exchange information simultaneously. This allows a group member to participate when he or she has an idea without having to wait their turn. For instance, if there were ten people in a verbal meeting that lasted sixty minutes, each person could speak for an average of six minutes given the norms of most meetings wherein people do not try to all speak at once. Given the same constraints for an electronic meeting, however, it would be possible for each person to participate for the full sixty minutes. Most studies have found that GSS groups using parallel brainstorming techniques produce more ideas, experience increased equality of participation, and report a higher level of satisfaction than groups that did not use GSS (Mills 199940).
Group memory is the electronic capture of the group's work. This is then available for review by the group and others in future to stimulate new ideas and add to the value of organizational intellectual capital. All the members of a group thus have a common, shared memory that can be used during or after the meeting. One of the underlying assumptions of the impact of group memory on group idea generation is that this feedback will have an impact on the ideas generated by an individual which is also an assumption of the electronic brainstorming technique (Satzinger et. al. 199941).
An interesting example of group thinking in an open forum using Internet technology is the Texas A&M University Libraries virtual learning community site on Academic Libraries of the 21st Century at http://library.tamu.edu/21stcentury. Here one can see upcoming live Chat Room topics with distinguished participants, participate in these and read the archives of previous live chat sessions.
"We welcome you to this website, which has been designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to foster fruitful discussions among information professionals about the direction and growth of academic libraries in the 21st Century. We invite your participation and welcome your comments as you use this resource."
MAJOR POINT: The use of group support systems (GSS) to enhance idea generation, asynchronous group work anywhere/any place, and to improve productivity is important for organizations functioning and competing in the electronic era and require significant investments in information technology and worker training.
The role of leaders
Evolving management theories and strategies for the electronic environment
Communication and relationships
Decision making and Risk taking
There is a need to adjust the organization through its leadership to operate effectively in a digital global environment as shown in the section on The Transformation of Management and Leadership. Successful leaders are moving away from component-based, linear thinking toward holistic, nonlinear thinking, involving the following shifts:
from microscopic, local views with a focus on the marketplace to global views, with focus on the environment
from a model wherein structure creates process to a model wherein the interactions within a system create self-organizing structures
from a focus on organizational pathology to a focus on organizational potential
from paying attention to policies and procedures that are fixed and inflexible to paying attention to perking information and emerging events
from planning steered by strategic-planning committee or consultants to whole-system input into planning process
from a focus on quantitative data to visual thinking in the big-picture context
from seeing change as a threat to seeing change as an opportunity
from leadership being responsible for success to everyone being responsible for success. (Sanders 199842)
The Role of Leaders
"The leader's job is to enable an organization and its members to operate in dynamic balance with a changing world so that collectively they grow in strength, effectiveness, and legitimacy." (Nanus 199743)
The modern leader has four roles - direction-setter, change agent, communicator, and mentor. Nanus (199744) believes that these provide the answer to all the turbulence, exploding uncertainty, change, and complexity that face leaders in the global economy and the rapidly changing electronic environment. The leader, as change agent, makes critical choices or influences the choices of others about investments and personnel, customers and markets, partnerships and new products. The leader is also the primary person who communicates and negotiates internally, but particularly, externally and who models new behaviors through coaching, mentoring and teaching. In previous decades, leaders and their managers spend most of their time creating order out of chaos. However, based on our new understanding of complexity and chaos, it is clear that such systematized and orderly organizations are now challenged to respond effectively to the fast-changing electronic environment. In the next section we will explore what this means for leaders and the management of organizations.
MAJOR POINT: The role of leaders in this kind of world is not to direct others in what to do but to establish the conditions in which workers can realize their own creativity on a much larger scale than is currently the case. This is also true for governments.
Evolving Management Theories and Strategies for the Electronic Environment
"So, when you insist on your vision, when you try to stick to your blueprint, when you cling with so much determination to control, are you destroying the capacity of your organization for complex learning? " (Stacey 1996b45).
Stacey (1996b46) postulates that all modern management thinkers share an unquestioned assumption that successful organizations are systems tending to states of stable equilibrium and adaptation to their market, societal and political environments. The assumption is that they will continue to move to equilibrium unless they are disturbed from such states by perturbations in their environment. Most bureaucracies, especially governmental, believe the same. Successful organizations identify these changes as soon as possible and align themselves to fit these changes. Senge (1990)47 sees organizations as nonlinear systems changing through learning. Ansoff (1987 & 1991)48 believes that strategic choices can be made in highly rational, analytical and intentional ways, while Mintzberg and Waters (1985)49 point out that many strategies simply emerge. However, Stacey (1996b, 1999)50 disagrees that success depends upon being "in control," or at least on achieving control faster than rivals, by whatever means. He suggests balancing traditional management systems with parallel internal systems that are under less control and function on the edge of chaos, relying on creativity to achieve breakthrough ideas.
The almost spontaneous development of the Linux version of the UNIX operating system, is an elegant illustration of this point. Linux software was developed as free-ware. It attracted the attention of more and more programmers over time who contributed their own ideas and improvements. The Linux community grew steadily, soon encompassing thousands of people around the world, all sharing their work freely with one another. Within three years, this loose, informal group, working without managers and connected mainly through the Internet, had turned Linux into one of the best versions of UNIX ever created (Malone & Laubacher 199851).
How would such a software development project have been organized by one of today's major software companies or in our own organizations? Malone & Laubacher (1998)52 speculate that "decisions and funds would have been filtered through layers of managers. Formal teams of programmers, quality assurance testers, and technical writers would have been established and assigned tasks. Customer surveys and focus groups would have been conducted, their findings documented in thick reports. There would have been budgets, milestones, deadlines, status meetings, performance reviews, approvals. There would have been turf wars, burnouts, overruns, delays. The project would have cost an enormous amount of money, taken longer to complete, and quite possibly produced a system less valuable to users than Linux."
They suggest that the Linux community, a temporary, self-managed gathering of diverse individuals engaged in a common task, is a model for a new kind of business organization that could form the basis for a new kind of economy.
MAJOR POINT: Today's leaders are challenged to create an environment that encourages unexpected advances and unleashes creativity in traditional organizations such as our universities and research establishments.
Ideas from the literature for creating such an environment are discussed below.
Leaders question linear thinking to create a nimble organization
Experts say that adaptation is the heart of competing on the edge. Organizations must become complex adaptive systems (CASs) that resemble the nonlinear feedback systems one can find so abundantly in nature as we have discussed in the section on Complexity and Paradox. An important characteristic of CASs is that they are composed of autonomous agents whose interactions with each other produce the emergent structures that form the unique properties of a system. The flocking behavior of geese - i.e. flying in a V-formation - illustrates this concept. They appear to follow a few simple rules; don't bump into each other; match up with the speed of other geese flying nearby; replace the lead goose when it gets tired; and always remain with the group. Yet a complex and efficient flying pattern emerges from these few rules. The group relies on constant feedback and adaptation to achieve its goal of remaining resilient in the face of changing circumstances such as encountering geographic or weather obstacles.
The lesson here is that rather than stifling chaos, managers should allow it to flourish. They also must ensure that the work environment encourages interaction and creativity. In nimble organizations leaders should not provide answers but create the flexibility that encourage employees to come up with the solutions. To grow such a collective intelligence, leaders need to create a strong sense of shared meaning so that people have the freedom to make decisions based on local situations much faster. In a complex turbulent environment, the mechanistic, authoritarian and hierarchical decision-making process is too slow and too cumbersome to react to the situation. Employees at every level of the organization need to bring their intelligence and capacity to their work and to make decisions quickly. Any or every employee may hold a piece of the puzzle that is critical to completing the picture.
The next two leadership requirements also derives from these ideas: Leaders give up control to achieve innovation and Leaders share intelligence, information and meaning with a high level of interactivity.
Creating opportunities for discussion and using every communications technology available to the organization will encourage two critical components of creativity: posing questions and involving unlikely partners in conversations, discussions and meetings.
Leaders develop resilient employees who can absorb future shocks
We have discussed the need for interactivity and sharing intelligence but to manage the unknown future an organization must have the capacity to absorb shocks in times of changes and chaos. All information-based organizations such as libraries and universities are experiencing such times. Employees will need the following characteristics to become more resilient: be focused, organized, proactive and acquire a positive sense of their ability to deal with change. This is encouraged through training, building an understanding of the external world and global socio-economic changes and creating an organizational culture of continuous improvement. Cross-training, developing self-directed work teams and having groups of people who can be moved from one part of the organization to another on short notice, builds resilience. Open forums without any fixed agenda are also conducive to building this culture, as is preparing employees for emerging trends such as those discussed at the beginning of this chapter.
It is especially important for workers in a distributed environment to understand how their jobs are integrated with those of their coworkers. Managers in distributed work environments can develop strategies that explicitly emphasize and develop the connections among employees to develop common understanding of larger group or organizational goals. Analysis suggests that undirected electronic communication (UEC), such as project tracking tools and electronic bulletin boards, is important for satisfaction with office communication in the distributed work environment. UEC allows "lurking" where workers can monitor a wide variety of work-related events and discussions among colleagues (Tapsell, 199953).
Leaders foster Communication and build Relationships
"In this new world span-of-control mentalities must give way to span-of-communication mentalities." (Leinberger and Tucker, 199154)
Leaders need to communicate obsessively, both formally and informally, to forge relationships and knowledge networks. New research suggests that it is a mistake to think about knowledge networks only in terms of technology. It is important to examining the web of relationships that exist among the units. The way a unit is linked to others has a dramatic effect on its performance (Cliffe, 199855). The difference in performance can largely be traced to two organizational factors: a unit's centrality in the corporate network and the types of relationships it maintains with other units. The relationship between two units should be tailored to the type of knowledge that needs to flow between them. Cliffe (1998)56 categorized knowledge as either explicit or tacit. Explicit knowledge needs little interpretation and can therefore be communicated quickly and easily electronically, e.g. research reports, simple software code, and market data. Tacit knowledge, in contrast, requires a high degree of interpretation; it can't be transferred quickly and easily, e.g., scientific expertise, product technologies, and operational know-how. The exchange of tacit knowledge requires a great deal of face-to-face contact. Leadership actions are important to ensure that this happens.
Leaders ensure effective Decision Making and encourage Risk Taking
Clearly, leaders must be able to manage the paradoxes of chaos and order as they juggle creativity and experimentation along with control and efficiency. In the evolving electronic workplaces, leaders must "push the envelope to survive, we live in a constant stream of tensions: balancing work with play, creativity with competition, complacency with outrageousness" (Tetenbaum, 199857). This means honing the decision making skills at all levels of management. Decision making is the most important job of any executive. It is also the toughest and riskiest because of the ways in which human psychology can sabotage decisions. Decision makers display a strong bias toward alternatives that perpetuate the status quo as you may know from your own experiences! These are called decision-making traps by Hammond, et.al.(1998)58. In the electronic environment, especially when investing in information technology, many leaders and their management teams are treading new ground. Understanding and awareness of such traps are more necessary than ever. Below is a discussion of some of these decision traps from the work of Hammond et. al. (1998)59.
The Anchoring Trap refers to the common phenomenon when the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. Initial impressions, estimates, or data anchor subsequent thoughts and judgments. This can be as simple and seemingly innocuous as a comment offered by a colleague or a statistic appearing in the morning newspaper
The Status-Quo Trap reflects on the biases that influence the choices we make. Decision-makers display, for example, a strong bias toward alternatives that perpetuate the status quo. On a broad scale, we can see this tendency whenever a radically new product is introduced. In business, where sins of commission (doing something) tend to be punished much more severely than sins of omission (doing nothing), the status quo holds a particularly strong attraction.
The Sunk-Cost Trap deals with our deep-seated biases to make choices in a way that justifies past choices, even when the past choices no longer seem valid. Sunk costs are irrelevant to the present decision such as investing in a digital library when we have already invested in a traditional system, but nevertheless they prey on our minds, leading us to make inappropriate decisions.
The Framing Trap affects the first step in making a decision, which is to frame a question. The way a problem is framed can profoundly influence the choices made. A frame can establish the status quo or introduce an anchor. It can highlight sunk costs or lead you toward confirming evidence. It often traps decision makers into making estimates or forecasts about uncertain events based on past experiences that may be meaningless in the electronic environment.
There are also a number of Uncertainty Traps that can cloud our judgement. The most common of these uncertainty traps are:
The Overconfidence Trap. Some decision-makers tend to be overconfident about their accuracy in estimating. That can lead to errors in judgment and, in turn, bad decisions.
The Prudence Trap. Another trap for forecasters takes the form of over cautiousness, or prudence. When faced with high-stakes decisions, they tend to adjust estimates or forecasts to play it safe. Over cautiousness may result in creating expensive and delaying worst-case-analyses which may have no practical benefit. Too much prudence can sometimes be as dangerous as too little.
What can you do about these traps? Leaders in the evolving electronic environment should study the work of Hammond et.al. (1998)60. The best protection against decision traps is awareness. Forewarned is forearmed.
MAJOR POINT: The main message of this section on management and leadership is the ability and need to integrate opposites. The challenge for managers and their teams is to create coexisting, highly differentiated and highly integrated organizations. Differentiating units is easy; achieving integration is not. Tushman & O'Reilly (1999)61 stress that innovation (either incremental or discontinuous) stems from two component processes: those structures, people, incentives and cultures that promote creativity and those that facilitate implementation. The need for creativity must be balanced with the need for execution; they state that: "Organizations can sustain their competitive advantage by operating in multiple modes simultaneously - managing for short-term efficiency by emphasizing stability and control, and for long-term innovation by taking risks and learning by doing. Organizations that operate this way may be thought of as ambidextrous - hosting multiple, internally inconsistent architectures, competencies and cultures, with built-in capabilities for efficiency, consistency and reliability on the one hand, and experimentation, improvisation and luck on the other."
Evaluation takes on even greater significance in the evolving electronic marketplace where intangible assets predominate. Cost savings from successful web initiatives must be evaluated and explicitly identified. Such savings should be aggressively re-allocated to develop more electronic and human assets. The best measures of the success of intangible assets are customers. Web-based services are ideally suited to getting constant feedback from them.
"Innovation is everybody's responsibility"
Math Kohnen, director of GameChanger Initiatives at Shell (Stepanek, 199962)
All of the above trends point to the importance of organizational learning. Developing electronic assets such as digital libraries and acquiring information technology infrastructure require traditional start-up learning but more importantly, maximizing the benefit of these through innovation and organization-wide learning. Below are examples of successful approaches.
How can we bring the startup mentality inside our large existing organizations?
By creating entrepreneurial units within the traditional organization from which the rest can learn. What Stepanek (1999)63 calls "rebel bands" and Tushman & O'Reilly (1999)64 call "skunk works" Such groups are relatively small, have loose decentralized product structures, experimental cultures, loose work processes, strong entrepreneurial and technical competencies and relatively young and heterogeneous employees. Entrepreneurial units build new experience bases and knowledge systems; they generate the experiments, failures, and they create the variation from which possible dominant designs or technological discontinuities can emerge. The ambidextrous organizations referred to earlier build in contradictions as they operate both for today and tomorrow. Tushman & O'Reilly(1999)65 believe that management must protect and legitimize entrepreneurial units and keep them physically, culturally and structurally separate from the rest of the organization. There is not enough evidence, as yet, that the latter is always true. There is good evidence that this "rebel culture" pushes decision-making deep into the organization and cuts through layers of bureaucracy, begetting more innovative teams. Here are some examples provided by Stepanek (1999)66.
Nortel allocates "phantom stock" to those who volunteer for special high-risk innovative projects. Nortel "buys" the stock, as if it were an internal IPO. Staffers get paid twice - once when a product is finished and again after it has been on the market for about a year. Nortel now has 17 products under development in this program.
PROCTER & GAMBLE
P&G has created a group called Corporate New Ventures, an autonomous idea lab. Its mission: to encourage new ideas for products and put them into speedy production by funding the best ideas. By 1999, seven ideas have already gone to market in half the time of previous new products.
The company holds weekly "GameChanger" sessions to brainstorm for new ideas. By 1999, more than 300 new-product and process-improvement ideas have been implemented, including four of the company's five most crucial initiatives that year.
Acquiring, growing, and keeping Creatives
Learning organizations are challenged to grow and keep creative people. Creative types design the software, Web pages, and special projects that convince people to use our services and continue using them. It is not advisable to manage creative people in traditional ways. Cook (1999)67 provided useful ideas for keeping and encouraging creatives:
Structure without control. It is generally unwise to try to manage creative employees at all; leading them is more effective. They require more freedom, with the only structure provided through deadlines and guidance, rather than management techniques. "High-tech and artistic people don't accomplish anything without structure, but the structure needs to be primarily unknown to them and unconscious." (Cook 199968)
Forget the 9-to-5 jive
Right brain and left brain workers. Teams usually consist of right brain (creative), left brain (technical), and strategic (synapse) members. Although there are some inherent difficulties in getting creative and noncreative types working together effectively, allowing employees' unique personalities to shine through helps even the most seemingly different people find common ground.
Feedback gets amplified. Knowing how to give feedback is a crucial aspect of fostering good relationships between creatives and non-creatives. Because the creative process is such an intensely personal pursuit, improperly presented feedback can be extremely damaging. Therefore, it's necessary to help creatives articulate how they feel about the feedback they've been given. By setting clear expectations in the beginning, a manager can tie criticism back to the initial expectations and explain why certain aspects of the project don't work. Integrating peer reviews into the evaluation process generally provides greater credibility as most creative work is highly subjective.
The creative career track. Creative types generally do not make good managers and another career path needs to be developed for them. They must have assurances that they can rise high in the organization without being forced to manage people.
Managing smarter people. Frequently non-technical people manage technical people and, in some sense, they may feel less smart than their employees, however, leaders and managers need not be as technically proficient because their role is quite different. This should not be a stumbling block in hiring and keeping creatives.
Another strategy to keep new types of workers is to "sculpt" jobs specifically for them. Job sculpting is used as a competitive strategy by many electronic-based companies. It is the art of matching people to jobs that resonate with the activities that make them happy. Butler & Waldroop (1999)69 say that managers do not need special training to job sculpt, but they do need to listen more carefully when employees describe what they like and dislike about their jobs and their deeply embedded life interests. They then work together to customize future work assignments. Employees stay at jobs only if the job matches their deeply embedded life interests. These interests are not shallow and temporary, but deeply embedded life interests that drive what kinds of activities make them happy. At work, that happiness often translates into commitment, keeps people engaged, and keeps them from leaving your organization for the competition.
MAJOR POINT: There is a shortage of technically skilled workers and even more so of innovators. Retention and recruitment is one of the greatest obstacles to developing digital library services and information products.
Fostering Creativity and Innovation
"Creativity is the process of bring a novel idea into existence. Innovation is the practical application of creative ideas, i.e., the implementation of the ideas that are new." Sullivan, (2000)70
The development of digital library services and functions require innovation and creativity. There are 4 key elements for a creative workplace (Sulivan 200071):
individuals who are willing to tap their creativity and express ideas
an environment which supports creativity and innovation, i.e. risk taking, trust, openness, play, and humor
allowing time for idea generation
having the necessary resources (time, money, energy, learning)
There are many different processes that have been used to stimulate the generation of creative ideas. Below are listed just a few of these. It behooves organizations in the rapidly changing electronic environment to explore as many of these as possible.
Electronic meeting and brainstorming systems are useful in generating ideas. Everyone in the meeting can "talk at once" by typing into his or her computer. The system then instantly distributes the contributions throughout the group. This means that participants do not lose track of their ideas while listening to other contributions, nor do they lose track of what others are saying while they are contributing - because all ideas become part of a real-time and permanent written record. Strong personalities can no longer dominate or sidetrack a meeting. Weaker personalities have equal access to the "floor." And because individuals provide input anonymously, participants evaluate each idea's merit independently from the personality of the person delivering it. Participants can float unconventional or unpopular ideas without evaluation apprehension.
More information on virtual collaboration can be found by visiting the web site of the Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work at http://www.crew.umich.edu/ and examples of software applications are provided in the resource section.
Scenario planning is a process that enables us to visualize a range of opportunities from trends intelligence and to facilitate a departure from traditional thinking - to spark creative "what if" thinking. Arranging trends in some type of logical story form can facilitate comprehension and relevancy. This brings to the surface unspoken assumptions about the future, challenges mental models, and, more frequently than not, lifts the blinders to creativity and resourcefulness. (Tucker 199972)
Thinking exercises can be employed when work groups are stuck for new ideas. The Six Hats method is a well known thinking tool kit developed by Edward de Bono, a man many regard as the authority in teaching thinking as a skill.
The arrangement of office spaces that, for instance, allow frequent interactions, the use of unstructured meetings and unusual meeting locations, and other non-traditional arrangements also stimulate creativity and help foster a new organizational culture.
The changing role of the OPAC and Information Portals
Changes in Scholarly Publishing
The foregoing discussions are important in the context of Digital Libraries (DL) because digitized collections of information products and structured data sets underlie all web-based applications as will be seen in Chapters 4, 6 and 7. The authors will provide an overview of DL developments and a digitization case study and its technology implications, respectively. Digital libraries are really part of a hybrid system comprised of traditional and paper-based resources integrated with digital collections, web-based services and tools for integrating local, national and global resources. These can be free or purchased information services. The latter can be bought as part of a purchasing consortium, a national plan, on a pay-per-use basis, and an ever-growing variety of purchasing options. Some information products could be purchased for the organization, created by the organization, purchased for certain employees or groups of employees. Whatever the case, information is expensive and its use may be controlled by a variety of restrictions.
When we speak of digital libraries we generally refer to three facets of an ideal integrated library system. Most current projects incorporate some of these facets in various phases of development. Digital collections of journals, conference proceedings, directories, almanacs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference sources, as well as abstracting and indexing databases represent the first facet. The second are search engines and other finding tools. Some of these could be freely available on the Web, such as Yahoo, or purchased or developed in-house for local customers. Which requires the third component; the creation of digital resources and integrative technologies.
Service functions in libraries are also impacted by global connectivity. Regional, national, and transnational Online Digital Reference Services have been proposed as a solution to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week (24/7 service) reference expectations of customers. One such project by the United States Library of Congress (Kresh, 200073) proposes to coordinate a global digital reference network that would allow libraries to provide 24/7 online reference service. Three pilot projects were done between March and August 2000. Countries represented in this initial pilot included the United States, Australia, and Canada. The types of libraries involved included public libraries, academic libraries, national libraries, an art museum library, and a regional library cooperative. Ideally, being in different time zones, regular work hours will cover electronic reference during each area's normal work hours. LiveRef(sm): A Registry of Real-Time Digital Reference Services was established by Gerry Mckiernan (2000)74 to provide a categorized listing of libraries that offer real-time library reference or information services using chat software, live interactive communications utilities, call center management software, Web contact center software, bulletin board services, or related Internet technologies. LiveRef(sm) is available at: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~CYBERSTACKS/LiveRef.htm. It also includes a hot-linked list of software used to provide such services, as well as links to two of the major digital reference service e-lists. Kathy Kerns of Stanford also developed a similar registry http://wwwsul.stanford.edu/staff/infocenter/liveref.html
The role of librarians is changing accordingly and they are faced with many of the same technological challenges that computer scientists and engineers are, as we will see in chapters 5 and 6. Guenther (2000)75 says "The digital library concept requires that librarians be information architects in order to build effective, scalable Web sites to serve the digital demands of patrons. Headline news pushed to the desktop; Web browsing from a palmtop; cyber bookstores, flower stands, and auction houses: All these are examples of how the Web has fundamentally changed where, how, and when we do business. 'Just in time' applied to libraries [means] information delivered where you need it, when you need it, and in a format that is useful. This strategy requires libraries increasingly to adopt 24/365 service to keep up with the demands of their patrons for core services, and to offer services through what is often called the digital, electronic, or virtual library or reference desk." Non-traditional job advertisements are now a common occurrence in professional library publications. An example of an advertisement for a "Knowledge Architect" is appended to the resource section.
The greatest challenges currently for the development of effective digital information services are the issues of interoperability and integration. Without these users would still be confronted by a disorienting array of access and searching choices and face significant learning curves to get to the information they need. Seamless access to information of all types at all times will require the integration of standards for system architecture, information structuring, and markup languages, e.g., XML and SGML, and the adoption of metadata (data about data) element standards to describe digital items and collections. HTML is the commonest markup language used to present information, while metadata is used to describe the details about, for instance, a Web document. The use of a standard metadata increases the chances of having Web pages indexed properly across search engines. OCLC's Dublin Core, the W3 Consortium's Resource Description Framework (RDF), and Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) all represent description standards under development to effectively describe digital objects on the Web. Chapter xx will provide a detailed information on the creation and maintenance of a digital library. Sources for finding more information about metadata projects and standards are listed in the resource section.
Another challenge, not surprisingly, is funding. Traditional libraries struggled to keep up with escalating prices, but hybrid traditional/electronic libraries find keeping up financially an even bigger problem. Why? Because electronic products and services are not necessarily cheaper and are in fact mostly more expensive to implement and maintain. Information technology personnel also cost considerably more than traditional library workers, as do the hard and software needed to run library catalogues and services. Carol Montgomery (2000)76 studied changes in the library's operational costs associated with electronic subscriptions. She concluded that "Preliminary cost comparisons...indicate that the electronic collection is substantially more expensive to maintain."
The role of the online library catalogue is changing radically with commercial examples of innovation, such as Amazon.com, showing the potential for direct customer service.
However, the persistence in some libraries and among some librarians of traditional practices in structuring and organization information prevents it from becoming a truly innovative information service. Ortiz-Repiso & Moscoso (1999)77 discussed the repercussions of continuing rules and formats that were developed for manual systems and that are no longer appropriate within the evolving new technological environment.
Maximizing the potential of Web-based OPACs.
Davis (1999)78 advises companies to embrace certain truths about web-based services to capitalize on unprecedented business changes. Libraries can benefit by taking these truths to heart, especially in the context of online catalogues, which are more and more just one of many electronic information resources offered by them. His suggestions for optimizing web access has been adapted to be applicable for libraries:
Deploy interactive experiences that enhance customers' perception loosely and openly, providing them opportunities to tell you their future needs.
"Experience builds brands." Customer experience on your library web site will be the single largest builder of brand I future, i.e. credibility and quality of information services. He suggests allocating resources, talent and budget NOW to support this belief.
Give library customers the right self-service tools and they'll return the favor by decreasing support overhead, happily and willingly. The majority of customers prefer to control their own destiny.
Remove the mysticism of library tools and markup languages (HTML, XML, and such) and put the library user directly in touch with vendors, e.g. self-service ILL and direct purchasing.
The majority of customers' transactions with library products and services should be web driven. Users will allow then allow libraries to track use patterns to the benefit of both parties, similar to Amazon.com's customer recommendation services.
As I have shown in previous sections, success in the electronic environment does not occur through mutation of current business models but requires separate and distinct cross-functional teams to consciously and consistently work to make existing business practices obsolete. This is called "organized abandonment" by Drucker (199979, p.66)
Focus on a few critical initiatives that is driven with factual information such as customer trends in your library and satisfaction ratings.
Davis shows convincingly that the most important criteria of web success are convenience (saving time), ease of use (intuitiveness) and utility (adding value). Make sure each new piece of content or functionality fits these criteria. It is therefore important not to guess how these are met, but to ask your customers.
It is extremely important to bring a new idea or service up and running and exposed to library customers as quickly as possible. Librarians tent towards perfection or nothing. This attitude will severely impair a library's ability to implement new and innovative services that meet and exceed customers' expectations. Most web-based services are works-in-progress and built with the help of customer input.
All priorities should be based on solving issues and challenges faced by the information-seeking customer. If they want your catalogue to function like that of amazon.com, strive to make it so.
Every customer transaction can and should be measured for both satisfaction and improvement.
Other ideas for "new age OPACs" can be found in Gerry McKiernan's clearinghouse web site at http://www.public.iastate.edu/~CYBERSTACKS/Onion.htm. Many libraries are experimenting with more inclusive and integrated catalogues and with more intuitive ways to search for information as well as better evaluation tools once information lists have been created. The Tacoma Public Library (Washington State, USA) has a web-based public online catalog which is powered by Tandem Non-Stop Computers. They are members of the amazon.com Associates Program with links to the amazon.com on-line bookstore for reviews, recommendations, availability information and book purchasing. More examples can be found in the resource list at the end of the chapter.
Serving Virtual Communities of Information Customers
Services such as Amazon.com and My Yahoo bring those with similar interests together by gathering information from their users and returning that information into more useful information to help them make purchasing and information-based decisions. In similar ways libraries can build research information communities around their services and products and the web sites of departments and individual faculty and researchers. Although controversial, data mining can be utilized with user consent. Data mining is the collection of electronic data to determine both patterns and trends of web usage to anticipate future needs. Guenther (2000)80 argues that with so much information now online, "the information glut that librarians navigate on behalf of patrons is also a data glut, and requires us to extract knowledge from data produced in both our physical and virtual environments. Analyzing the server's log files is now an integral part of library-wide statistics gathering. Data mining provides the tool to tie both physical and virtual libraries together to recognize trends and patterns among users. Understanding the needs, preferences, and behaviors of patrons ensures the creation and delivery of quality products and services."
An information literate person is able to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."
American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy; Final Report. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)
Learning outcomes at educational institutions are beginning to focus more and more on the student's experience not only on what students know. This includes the types of skills they develop, what they are able to accomplish with these skills and the attitudes that characterize the way they will approach their work over a lifetime of change. This approach requires that students are evaluated and curricula are built based on learning outcomes realized by students themselves and with a strong research component. The expectation is that students must become proficient as members of teams, in communicating their solutions, and effectively taking advantage of access to information and the use of technology.
The information literate individual is defined as one who can recognize the need for information, can locate it using a variety of media and technologies and can evaluate information in order to use it effectively. Information literate students have the flexibility to take these skills from their formal education and use them throughout life as citizens and professionals and as a means toward continued learning. (From the Florida International University Library's Information Literacy Mission Statement at http://www.fiu.edu/~library/ili/mission.html.)
How does the focus on learning outcomes affect the mission of the Library? Like other communities at the University, the library must move from a content view (books, subject knowledge) to a competency view (what students will be able to do). Within the new environment, we need to measure the ways in which the library is contributing to the learning that the University values. Like the general education program, the library has a direct and an indirect interest in the learning outcomes for all the students at the University. Like the Physics Department, the Library should be able to contribute to the achievement of learning outcomes for various academic programs across the University.
It is useful to begin by asking, within their own expertise and their understanding of what will make students successful, what do library professionals consider key learning outcomes. One potential answer to this question is provided by the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, approved by the Association of College and Research Libraries on January 18, 2000 (Smith 200081).
Portals provide search engines, online shopping, news, reference tools, and communications services including e-mail, chatrooms, and online conferencing. Portals generally provide some level of personalization. Libraries should adapt these to allow users to create their own information environments based on the library's electronic resources and services and those provided by the Internet at large. Portals should offer a full inventory of the library's electronic resources and display the subject expertise offered by the library's information and human resources. The use of portals for customized delivery of information in many organizations and their libraries is growing. Portals will be explored further in chapter 10 and the processes and tools to manage, identify, and structure content in digital form and to create web-based library and information services will be discussed in chapters 4, 5, and 6.
Scholarly Publishing in Turmoil
There is a revolution of sorts taking place in scholarly communication practices. This is not based on change-for-change's sake or even the electronic revolution, but on unacceptable market practices and threats to the free flow of research and scholarship so critical for a health society and commerce. This will be discussed in Chapter 3.
The reader may wonder why so much time has been devoted to the larger issues of global change, new management theories and practices, the development of new skills and attitudes for workers in the digital area, and the importance of matching human behavior to information technologies. Without this broader context the importance of digital libraries and information services cannot be fully understood by governments, administrators or funding agencies. And without an understanding of how the electronic work place, electronic collaborations and virtual work impact organizational outcomes and worker behavior, many digital initiatives will fail. Without grasping the global electronic and information challenges, countries that are tradition-bound and slow to change, will not benefit from the tremendous opportunities provided by electronic commerce. They will also miss the opportunity to empower their citizens with timely and quality information that ensure democratic freedoms.
The capacity of Latin American countries and institutions to compete in the evolving information economy is tremendous. Statistics on Networking in Latin America is available at http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/tilan/statistics/index.html such as: Internet Hosts in Latin America, 1995-1999, Internet Infrastructure in Latin America, Percentage of Cable-TV Subscriptions in Latin America, and the size of the Latin American Economies.
Library Associations and academic libraries and information networks are listed at http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/library/.
There is a new stability is Latin America that bodes well for the new millennium and most countries in the region enjoy the political and economic conditions that could enable science to flourish. However, according to the Nature supplement on science in Latin America (Macilwain 1999b82) "among scientists in the region, there is no universal recognition that such an opportunity exists. Most of the larger nations there have enjoyed impressive economic growth over the past ten years, but intellectuals, including scientists, tend to deride this achievement. In particular, they regret the passing of the large, self-sufficient but woefully uncompetitive industrial base that existed behind the trade barriers of the old Latin American economy." They see five problems that the scientific community must face and correct. In ascending order of difficulty, these are the:
reluctance to accept outside peer review
lack of regional integration in science
grudging acceptance of the free market system by some scientists
pressing need for university reform
failure to acknowledge the importance of intellectual property rights in modern research.
All these issues come to play in cross national digital library projects, as will be seen in the following chapters, thus creating ideal opportunities to explore breaking the mold in relatively safe and contained experiments.
It is useful to summarize the major points made in this chapter:
As we have seen, the growth of technology; globalization and worldwide markets and competition; the rapidity and discontinuity of change; speed and rapid turn around times; and pervasive paradox and complexity characterize the 21st Century.
Some specific trends are emerging from the above which will affect library and information services. These include E-commerce, using the Internet to stimulate and manage innovation, the rapidly growing workforce who freelances on the Internet (so-called E-lancers), the development of E-Ink and E-books; telecommuting and virtual work, management models based on systems thinking, the development of new ways to measure and of new assets, and the transformation of management and leadership.
Leaders in the information economy need to understand the concepts and management philosophies that drive innovation and success in this environment. It is critical to allow less control and more creativity and risk taking in everyday business. The demands to build effective organizational learning processes in distributed environments are likely to accelerate especially when combined with the rapid developments in information technology. The role of leaders in this kind of world are not to direct others in what to do but to establish the conditions in which workers can realize their own creativity on a much larger scale than is currently the case. This is also true for governments.
Today's leaders are challenged to create an environment that encourages unexpected advances and unleashes creativity in traditional organizations such as our universities and research establishments.
Whatever the advantages and challenges of virtual work and workers, this trend is here to stay and will impact leadership and the management of information workers as will be discussed later. The security of competitive information and software systems in an electronic world must be balanced with selected openness to allow cooperative exchanges of information with another organizations (even the competition) when both can benefit.
The use of group support systems (GSS) to enhance idea generation, asynchronous group work anywhere/any place, and to improve productivity is important for organizations functioning and competing in the electronic era and require significant investments in information technology and worker training.
There is a shortage of technically skilled workers and even moreso of innovators. Retention and recruitment is one of the greatest obstacles to developing digital library services and information products.
An information age Latin American country, where information itself is key to performing work tasks, must understand and provide effective ways to deliver data and information to knowledge workers, i.e., knowledge management. This is important to good management, innovation and competitiveness in all sectors of industry and society.
The education and training of information professionals and all knowledge workers are key to a successful economy based on a sound information technology infrastructure. Latin American countries and organizations will need to articulate a knowledge base that will enable professionals to lead change in the information era, identify survival skills for knowledge workers and organizations dependent on these new skills and identify and encourage the fundamental attitudes to practice in a fast-changing environment.
The challenge for Latin America is to create a business and academic culture of risk taking, innovation and cross-national networks of cooperative alliances while strengthening information technology infrastructure and skills. National and cross-national digital library initiatives meet all of these requirements and can form the basis of much fruitful experimentation and application.
The development of digital library services and products will require a realignment of organizational priorities and reallocation of resources. More importantly, it requires committed leadership and champions within the organization who can make a compelling case for the benefits of digital library services in managing organizational knowledge. National projects, such as the Mexican digital library initiative described in chapter xx, require commitment from government policy and funding agencies such as national research councils and government information departments. Universities and other research organizations provide fertile ground for creating digital library initiatives.
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E-ink & E-Books:
E Ink Corporation, Cambridge, MA. http://www.eink.com
Open eBook Authoring Group. Involved in creating formatting and other e-book standards. http://www.openebook.org
DocSpace Manager offers a unique approach to the teamwork problem. It is a workgroup-collaboration service built on Web technologies, so it is available any time, anywhere, by anyone who has access to a standard Web browser. Vendor Information: DocSpace Manager at www.docspace.com
ERoom is a group work software application from Instinctive Technology Inc., Cambridge, Mass. The program lets teams create a virtual workplace on the Web.
Resources and Projects from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes at http://www.ifla.org/II/diglib.htm
A comprehensive Latin America Information site is available at the Latin American Network Information Center at the University of Texas <http://lanic.utexas.edu/> including information on Digital Library initiatives in Latin America.
Dublin Core Home Page: http://www.oclc.org/oclc/research/projects/core/index.htm
Dublin Core Tutorial: http://hosted.ukoln.ac.uk/ec/metadata-1997/tutorial/presentation/
CORC at Cornell: http://ivy.mannlib.cornell.edu/corc/
Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository: http://cugir.mannlib.cornell.edu/
Cornell University Library Gateway: http://campusgw.library.cornell.edu/
Data Documentation Initiative: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/DDI/
University of Virginia Electronic Text Center: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/
Metadata Protocol & Standards:
W3C Home Page: http://www.w3.org/
Links to Information Literacy Resources:
Example of a non-traditional job description for a new type of digital library worker from an e-mail posted on the Science and Technology Librarians Listserve, STS-L, STS-L@listserv.utk.edu 08/15/2000, 7:30 AM -0400: "Knowledge Architecht - additional position - CA"
"Our client, a dynamic, successful provider of a product that enables web-site visitors to find what they want without knowing exactly how to ask for it."
*Modeling business knowledge of our customers. Architect Knowledge Maps,taxonomies and templates to guarantee a superior user experience;
*Facilitate knowledge transfer from client Subject Matter Experts;
*Identify top level interaction flows and taxonomies;
*Responsible for modeling the end user experience;
*Be responsible for the implementation inside our ESP of a set of taxonomies;
*Design and develop a user interaction, using a dialog language, a patent-pending technology;
*Participate in the effort of constantly improving our processes and best practices based on experience acquired on projects;
*Interface with Project Managers, User Interface Team Members, Web Development Engineers and QA Engineers
*Previous experience in knowledge-based systems implementation or in linguistics, in building taxonomies or ontologies. Sensitivity to human machine interaction issues;
*Experience in object-oriented modeling (UML);
*Successful experience in user modeling and highly interactive systems;
*Demonstrated success in projects using content management, classification and information retrieval techniques;
*Proven track record of working well with clients and subject matter experts (experience as a consultant a plus);
*Ability to quickly become familiar with content provided by customer;
*Ability to complete projects on time and within budget;
*Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Good analytical skills;
*Willing to travel occasionally to client locations (primarily US);
*Masters degree in Human Computer Interaction, Anthropology, Information/Library Science, AI, Computer Science or with at least 5 years of relevant experience.