Marie Reddan, Librarian, NUI Galway, observes; "INULS is unique in attracting such a mix of library staff to its conference. NUI Galway Library staff have a genuine curiosity in developments in other libraries but can take great pride in embracing huge change both socially and technologically and not least seeing a doubling of student numbers since INULS was last hosted in Galway."
The theme of this year's conference is Collaborating and Competing. Libraries have a strong tradition of collaboration but competition is an increasing factor and the boundaries between the two are often fuzzy as universities strive with each other to attract the best students and researchers. Speakers will address a range of issues including:
- Collaboration and competition between universities
- Relationships between libraries and departments within the same institution
- The impact of global forces like Google and the social networking movement
"A university cannot effectively meet the needs of its various stakeholders unless it operates at the level of excellence. If, for instance, NUI Galway is to support the further development of the medical-devices industry or the marine sector in Ireland, it must create and sustain excellent research and teaching programmes in these areas. Anything less is a disservice to an industry that competes in a global market."
The increasingly online environment in which libraries now supply their services, and the extent to which collaborative initiatives like IReL (the Irish Research e-Library) deliver a common pool of resources, highlights a need for distinctiveness too in support of institutional competitiveness. But competition for libraries and universities comes not only from each other, as services like Google promise instant gratification to information searchers. Libraries need to identify themselves clearly and to maximise partnerships with the rest of the university in delivering an enhanced learning experience.
Delegates will have opportunities to engage fully with these topics through presentations and workshops, a sponsors exhibition, and a very active and social programme. A first for INULS this year will be the publication of some of the conference papers in the journal Library Management.