When the haiku hits the fan…

Last week in Philadelphia, RLG Programs held a two-day event exploring collaborative approaches to managing print collections in a digital era.  The program, entitled “When the Print Hits the Fan,” was attended by 35 collections officers and access heads from over 20 RLG Programs partner institutions in North America, the UK, and Ireland.

On Day One we explored four major objectives in the shared management of print collections — last copy retention, shared access to low-use materials, back-up to online access, and expanding coverage/reducing duplication.  On Day Two we attempted to articulate high-level strategies for addressing persistent challenges in these areas.

In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing outcomes and lessons learned.  I’ll start that process today by sharing the context-setting documents we developed for the program.  They happen to be in the shape of haiku, the Japanese poetic form consisting of three unrhymed lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.

On the library as destination:
(Provost POV)
Use prime real estate
To attract social scholars
Brick and mortar wins!

(Library staff POV)
New books in storage
Coffee shop in reference
Hell must be chilly

(End-user POV)
Gather my gadgets
Destination: library
My friends will be there

On the end user’s expectations:
I want it right now
Your problems don’t int’rest me
I prefer no charge

On lack of space (and users) for print collections:
It’s one in, one out
A static collection plan
Our books are cling-free

Print, print ev’rywhere
And not a user in sight
Toss me a scanner

On ensuring retention of last copies:
I have the last one
Except for yours, and for hers
I get to toss, right?

Rareness is common
Something Yogi Berra said?
Nope.  WorldCat snapshot

On ensuring back-up to online access:
My online access
Is guaranteed by someone
I’m almost certain

On ensuring access to low-use materials:
Full in the building
Even fuller in the pod
Can books become air?

Room to build cheaply
But I can’t do it on spec
Now, who wants to play?

On expanding coverage, reducing duplication:
I bought what I said
You did, too, and so did they
Whew!  So far, so good

This method worked out so well that we’re emboldened to try other stylistic innovations.  For instance, henceforth all RLG Programs meeting summaries shall be composed and published in limerick form.  One trembles before the literary possibilities:

There once was a book from Nantucket…

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3 Comments

  1. How very interesting! Is the format of using the haiku something you developed at the event? Certainly helps you get to the point quickly!

  2. Peter,

    Actually, we came up with the idea before the program, in hopes of injecting a note of fun into the proceedings, and in order to keep the “talking heads” part of the day as short as possible.

    It was a tough crowd in Philadelphia. Some in the audience accused me of writing “low-ku” and one even suggested that perhaps “no-ku” would have been best of all.

    Everybody’s a critic!

    Thanks for asking…

    –Dennis

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