This is an outstanding year for ICPL! The quality of the presenters, their presentations, the attendees and their participation ranks at an all time high. Allow me to provide a flavor.
An introduction around the room revealed a wide variety of institutions represented and topics to tackle: big research institutions, public and private, small privates and some in between. Issues ranged from media production and literacy in academic computing to asset and data management, information security and policy governance. Librarians chimed right along with IT professionals with concerns about disclosure of metadata, security of resources and information literacy in the digital age.
John King and Mike Roy got us going on specific topic, mainly the question of whether the role policy plays differs between small and large institutions. (Please refer to the main page for full information and bios.) The difference in size may matter, sometimes, in a difference in the degree of control a leader has to effect change. Small schools, by virtue of size, may be more nimble, while larger schools follow the old saying that it is difficult to change the course of a big ship. But other circumstances, for example the culture and tradition of a particular small college, may also make it reluctant to change, so the "rule" is subject to many exceptions. But the overall sense by the end of the session was of more commonality than clear lines of distinction. Policy is tricky business no matter what the institution and depends more often on the role of process, the virtues of leadership and the dynamics of the institutional overall more than any one category of big or small, private or public. (Please note the Comment section below to disagree, expand or contract on my interpretations.)
After lunch Klara Jelinkova, Mairead Martin and Mike McPherson spoke about the challenges of making cloud computing decisions. Nicely dividing their talks among issues of architecture, education and policy, they addressed some of the nuances that go into institutional decisions, beginning with the important point that cloud computing did not begin yesterday but has been with us in many ways as long as higher education information technology has been dealing with vendors. One consideration that stood out for me was the notion of letting go of some of the anxieties that we have about these issues. It was attractive thinking because it implicitly identified the inclination so many of us administrators to want to control every aspect of our work when in fact for any variety of reasons, the pace of technology, not least, often leaves us without an ability to control developments perfectly. Theirs was also a great introduction to the next topic, legal issues in cloud computing, that really got the audience going!
Beth Cate, Steve McDonald, Patricia McClary and Joe Storch told war stories, made us laugh, almost made some of us cry and then we stood in awe of the documents prepared by a special committee of dedicated people who have constructed a model vendor contract and RFP. Because EDUCAUSE will be hosting these documents, with the full documentation of the people who have worked on them, I will leave this information as a teaser for the future full posting. Stay tuned to various listserves of NACUA, NACUBO and EDUCAUSE for an announcement on this topic!
Finally, Cliff Lynch offered a tour de force of challenges that academic libraries face in a world of digital technologies. Because that session was streamed I will leave it up to readers to view and make their marks with questions and comments.
Join us today at 3:30 EDT for a live stream of a conversation on the Future of the Academic Library!
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