I’ve got a new job: I’m co-director of the Harvard Library Lab, a part of Harvard Law School. I’m excited.
The Lab (the name is going to change) was created by John Palfrey a year ago when he became head of the Harvard Law Library (and Vice Dean for Information and Library Resources at the Law School). JP had been executive director of the Berkman Center. The key thing to understand is that the Lab was established by someone with a commitment to openness, collaboration, the importance of libraries, and the goodness of the Web. JP’s short form mission for the Lab is to “hack libraries” â€” in the good sense, of course, of innovating to expose even more of their value. Libraries are the centers of communities of scholars and researchers offline, and they ought to be (or at least inform) the centers of those communities online as well.
I’ve been consulting to the Lab for the past year, reporting to the fabulous Kim Dulin, lawyer and librarian, who is now co-director with me. We have a small but extraordinary team of folks who combine knowledge, imagination and vision with the ability to incarnate all three in software. The Lab has been working on a handful of small projects and one very large project. For now let’s just say that the projects generally take advantage of what libraries know â€” content, librarians, the users, all their interactions, all the metadata they generate â€” in order to help researchers and scholars find what they need, understand it, and share what they’ve learned. Something like that.
Also, the projects are awesome. And open source. And, whenever possible, collaborative in every direction. I’m there half-time so that I can finish my book, but my spirit is there 100%. (Also, my spirit works nights and weekends.)
There’s tons to do and a fantastic set of people to work with. I can’t wait to begin next week.
Frequently Asked Questions that no one has actually ever asked:
Yes, I’m still a senior fellow at the Berkman Center.
Yes, the Lab and the Center are independent of one another, but there’s a fair bit of happy overlap.
Yes, we know that Lab’s Web site needs work. We’re working on it! Jeez!
Yes, the Lab is part of the Harvard Law School Library, but we take our mandate as being more general than that.
No, the Law School Library Lab that I’m at is not the same as the new Harvard Library Lab. The latter is a university-wide group that is going to spur and encourage library innovation by funding projects and pulling together the community of people interested in the future of libraries. The LibLab that I’m at will be changing its name soon because it’s just too damn confusing.