Back from Croatia

I spent last week in coastal Croatia, which must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. I was there for LIDA: Libraries in the Digital Age, an annual conference that attracts an international crowd of librarians and researchers to talk about digital libraries.

The conference itself, unfortunately, wasn’t completely analogous to my own interests (though fortunately Croatia was completely analogous to my interests), but there were a few thought-provoking presentations.

Invited speaker Kathleen Kern, who hails from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (the school with the great abbreviation UIUC), spoke on “The Mediated Digital Library.” Kern commented that we reference librarians are often all too content to leave digital libraries to special collections. We refer people away, even when the collection of interest might be fully available online.

This had me thinking. I agree that we non-archivists often send people down the hall or across campus quite readily. We’ll help students navigate databases til the cows come home, but, at least in my case, rarely dive into collections themselves.

But, what does the reference transaction with a digital library look like? Especially considering we wouldn’t necessarily need to limit our searches to our own institution’s digital content.