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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > September 2020

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Vol. 40 No. 6 — September 2020
What’s So Special About Libraries? Everything!
by Dick Kaser

This issue on special libraries was scheduled for June, but was put off, given the impact of COVID-19. Just as your libraries were shuttered and workers sent home, publishing operations were negatively affected. But we’re back now, and hopefully so are you—if not entirely adjusted to the new normal.

Terence Huwe, in his Building Digital Libraries column, reminds us to see the opportunity to transform while our lives are disrupted. Special libraries—those catering to professional research communities—Huwe observes, have had to adapt to survive, just as all of us are being forced to do right now.

Public libraries, academic libraries, research libraries—they are all “special” libraries these days. Across the board, there’s a renewed emphasis now on electronic resources, digital assets, remote services, and distance education—all provided in the context of social responsibility.  

Library staffers in Boone County, Ky., were aware that they had a social obligation to reconstruct, document, and make available the region’s African American history, including slavery and the Underground Railroad. Use their tips for building a digital local history collection to reach out to your own underrepresented and underserved communities, as well as to raise awareness.

Similarly, law librarians at the University of Georgia describe how they rescued a collection of master’s degree theses, digitized the paper part of it, and archived everything in their institutional repository, making it remotely accessible all over the world. They also share their tips for constructing a digital library in such a way as to get better Google rankings, improving discovery.  

In this highly digital environment, Google’s algorithm isn’t the only one you need to understand. In his in-depth review, Jeffrey Davis (San Diego Public Library) helps you pick apart how collectionHQ’s algorithm works, so you can make better-informed collection management decisions.  

Finally, with online learning at least a facet of learning this fall, our EDTECH section features a timely article on assessing and evaluating your elearning resources.

There’s plenty that can be done—if even, still from home—in the days ahead. And I hope you will take much inspiration from the case studies presented in this issue.

Dick Kaser, Executive Editor

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