Global Research Libraries 2020

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park/Gardens

Last week I attended the 3rd Global Research Libraries 2020 workshop, held this year in Taipai, Taiwan. GRL2020 is an event where the participants submit brief position papers (pdf) prior to the meeting, and then present and discuss their activities and ideas related to what research libraries might be in the year 2020. Previous instances of this workshop have been held in Europe and in the U.S.

The participants in this year’s workshop came from the U.S., Mexico, Taiwan, China, India, Japan, Australia, Germany, and Portugal. A fairly good, if not complete, global representation. As with many events, one of the big take-aways was getting to meet the other participants and to learn about their various projects and work. In fact, this was the best part of the workshop – while I was aware of a number of digital library efforts in the UK, Australia, and Europe, I was not familiar with the state of digital libraries in China, Taiwan, Japan, and India. What I learned is that digital libraries around the world are facing similar challenges in regards to information access and discovery, preservation, support of scholarship, and intellectual property.

(Most of the presentations are available from the website, and I highly recommend perusing them.)

One of the challenges with a 2-day workshop is finding an effective method of taking the combined knowledge of the participants and applying some focus to it to come up with actionable outcomes; I think this particular challenge presented itself at this year’s GRL 2020. Because of the wealth of knowledge and breadth of work presented, there was not much time for in-depth discussion activities. In hindsight (it is always easier to look back and critique), there probably needed to be more time devoted to break-out sessions for small group discussion. There were some interesting outcomes from previous iterations of the workshop, but I personally did not get a good sense of this year’s event extending on that work. That being said, with the number of presentations given in the workshop, it is hard to see where more discussion time could be had.

There will shortly be a post-workshop report that will be published to the website; I will write-up a post on that report once it is out. In the meantime, take a look at the position papers and presentations, as they are quite interesting and disseminate the unique and common problems our geographically distributed digital library communities face.

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