POSTED ON MARCH 31, 2010:
Tulsa City-County e-Library
The library can become a hub of knowledge for the city and county of Tulsa
As the Information Age coalesces to one point of access, Tulsa's Central Library can be this center of Knowledge Management for the entire city and county.
Knowledge Management (KM) within Knowledge Societies unites huge databases through one source made available to each personal computer via the Internet. The future of libraries is in uniting this digital information from numerous sources, not necessarily in expanding the physical facility.
Whether a reference, archival or market survey source, KM could access every city document, newspaper and magazine article and historical photos of the Mayo Hotel immediately from any computer with links to the Tulsa Historical Society's documents and every City Council proceeding discussing it, as well as other legal documents, locally, nationally and globally.
Since Tulsa's history was the foundation and business model of today's global oil business, KM can turn this history into a national resource, which will shine like a beacon to the world.
Knowledge Management begins with a basic resource, such as the online card catalog of the library, and connects through hyperlinks to all related documents, books, newspaper articles, theses, digitized historical collections, law cases, high school and college papers, and oral histories of the community; and could extend to other documents online, such as vital records.
With the digitization of almost all books through the Google Book project and once the legal issues are resolved with Open Book Alliance and others, any computer will connect to almost all of the books ever written. This is an advantage to a library system such as Tulsa's, which can access all of this information through computers throughout the system and at home.
Through Google and others, books will be able to be printed "on-demand" at Expresso Book Machines for under $5, or downloaded onto an e-reader such as a Kindle, according to the Financial Times, or onto Apple's new iPad.
In May 2009, an economic survey by Forrester Research of Cambridge, Mass. predicted that two million digital e-readers would be sold in 2009 with the ability to download from one million free public domain books from Google.
The eBooks Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 18, 2010 emphasized how eBooks and social networks, such as Facebook, complement each other.
The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute and the British and Irish Legal Information Institute strive to bring global legal information digitally to the global community. Roberta Shaffer, the new Law Librarian of Congress, envisions her library as a World Law Library for the 21st Century by unifying technologies and materials in multiple languages.
As an example of further linked online resources, the Great Library of Alexandria (Egypt), Bibliotheca Alexandrina, has undertaken a huge digitization project described recently at the University of Tulsa by Ismail Serageldin, Librarian of Alexandria. He said the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina is to be: the window of the world on Egypt; the window of Egypt on the world; an instrument for rising to the digital challenge; a center for dialogue between peoples and civilizations. Tulsa can take a similar strategy with the Tulsa City-County Library system being a window of the world on Tulsa and be the window of Tulsa to the world.
Knowledge Management can also serve as an "economic survey" for potential sales for Tulsa businesses through the U.S. Department of Commerce National Technical Information Service and their National Technical Reports Library through an alert system of recent government-sponsored research grant projects. These would be available to everyone and will invite business opportunity and tourism to Oklahoma.
For individual personal growth, the New York Public Library has always prided itself as "Everyman's University," where citizens can be self-taught. Now more than ever, resources are available digitally to do this in Tulsa. Now is an opportunity for Tulsa to take a lead in the march to digitization of Knowledge Management within the current facility.
As an example of this approach working in another city, Brian Gambles from the Birmingham (England) City Council described their library this year as "a hub of the local knowledge economy" at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). Also, individuals could add content, such as high school, community college and university term papers and theses, to the KM system by using a Drupal-based system similar to the New York Public Libraries.
Further, Art Murray and Ken Wheaton in "The Future of the Future: Rise of the Knowledge Librarian" state that the knowledge librarian should be the "content czar," understand strategic information needs and be a lead agent of change.
In other words, instead of trying to "catch up" on collections and buildings, let's jump ahead to the digitized future. We are at an historic juncture when important information (books, writings, records, transactions) will be digitized and soon connected.
For the future, the next City Librarian of Tulsa should bear these ideas in mind to connect Tulsa. This position is crucial if Tulsa is to develop as a knowledge economy on the global scene for the future.
Larry Guthrie, a native Tulsan, served as a law librarian for the current Attorney General of the United States for eight years.
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