Global Content

With thinking through the implications of learning everywhere, along with the work in Mod 10 on mobile device use, it’s clear that we must be thinking of ourselves as information professionals to the world.

Full disclosure – I am white, male, Protestant, and I haven’t left the country since I was 10. I live in Southern California, which I will willingly admit is an extremely self-centered place. I work at a private, majority white, Christian college. I’m not the ideal candidate for a “global citizen” campaign.

BUT! the digital collections that I work with, the content that I am in charge of getting online, is traveling the world. The image shows the last 12 downloads from our repository, and only 3 of them are from North America.

I take two primary things from this:
1. The internet is awesome
2. If I am doing a user community assessment, I really REALLY have to think about a global audience.

What does this “global audience” mean practically?
– I can’t assume everyone has reliable high speed internet. (so a repository that creates highly compressed images for slower connections is very important, as is efficient, broadly compliant web design)
– I MUST keep mobile-only users in mind
– My metadata must meet international standards and avoid jargon
– I must ask questions about discovery tools and metadata exposure that keep the global audience in mind.

Barbara Ford contributed to The Portable MLIS with a chapter titled “LIS Professionals in a Global Society.” She makes two penetrating observations, firstly “Ubiquitous, open, free access to information is a key prerequisite for a peaceful, equitable world in the twenty-first century” (2008). My primary reaction to this observation is actually a concern about Big Deal content distributors. With pricing & ownership concerns like with University of California vs Elsevier, similar concerns about academic ranking publications buddying up with Big Deal providers, I’m worried. The problem I see is that the content that is supposed to educate and enrich the global community will be tailored and leveraged by the powerful to further their own agendas. [I’m aware of the irony that my own institutional example, and the presentation linked in this paragraph, are both available because of an Elsevier product. Sigh…]

Ford’s second observation is this, “Expanding people’s access to relevant information about their global futures, so that they can act upon social and environmental issues, is one likely result, once information is a totally free good” (2008). This is simply another angle on the concerns shared above. The best tools for distributing content are already being steered by powerful groups with a documented record of self-service and unfair play. I wish I had a solution, and that my institution had another option. I will continue to keep my users’ needs at the forefront, which means making sure that they have access to as much as I can offer. At the same time, I’ll keep making sure that we retain ownership of our content so as soon as I see a better boat, I’ll jump ship and start swimming.

Ford, B. (2008). LIS professionals in a global society. In The Portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Ed. Haycock. Libraries Unlimited.   

3 thoughts on “Global Content

  1. Britt Liukkonen says:

    @cdkoontz I really appreciate your insight and dedication to catering to patrons all over the globe! It’s very interesting your repository gets hits mostly from outside the U.S. I agree that we all have to keep accessibility in mind when thinking about our patrons. With mobile being a main access point to the Internet, it is crucial we make our sites mobile friendly and be sure they don’t take up too much space or bandwidth.

  2. Sharon Vigil says:

    @cdkoontz I enjoyed reading your blog. Next semester I am going to be doing a virtual internship for the Open Access Digital Theological Library and will be working on collections development. I have no experience in this area but I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a “global audience.” Reading your blog gave me insight into how much we can impact users on a global level. I don’t like the politics but I do agree that we need to keep the needs of our users as our top priority.

  3. This:

    “I will continue to keep my users’ needs at the forefront, which means making sure that they have access to as much as I can offer.”

    Yes! Thanks for this thoughtful exploration of your global collection!

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