Highlights of METRO’s 2007 Annual Meeting

Our annual meeting on October 26 broke all previous records for attendance, bringing together 225 leaders from the library community of New York City and Westchester County to conduct METRO business, get updates on library funding issues, network, and enjoy an absorbing keynote presentation on the future of library digitization.

Held at the Museum of Modern Art, the annual meeting began with opening remarks from Board of Trustees President Heike Kordish, who later provided an update on METRO's strategic planning process. Next, METRO Board Member Milan Hughston, Chief of Library and Museum Archives at the Museum of Modern Art, provided a warm welcome on behalf of MoMA, which graciously hosted this year's event.

METRO's Executive Director Dottie Hiebing introduced our three special guest speakers: Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (who represents Assembly District 90 and serves on METRO's Board), Senate Minority Leader Malcolm A. Smith (who represents Senate District 14), and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (who represents the 88th Assembly District). All spoke eloquently about the vital role of libraries and their efforts to ensure appropriate levels of funding and support to enable libraries in our area to continue leading the way in information services in the years to come.

In her update on state legislative and funding issues affecting libraries, Assemblywoman Paulin, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, observed that, " Perhaps the most basic reason for increasing funding is that the public library, like our public schools, is the quintessential democratic institution. It is the door of opportunity that is open to everyone. And it must be open to everyone—to those among us who can't afford a computer or internet service, especially the many children who need a safe place after school to do research and homework."

Following reports from METRO's Executive Director and Board President, an election was held for the Board of Trustees, with Patricia Castel Skarulis (Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) and Milan Hughston (Chief of Library and Museum Archives at the Museum of Modern Art) elected. Next, METRO Treasurer Hal Higginbotham delivered a financial report on METRO's recent fiscal year.

These agenda items were followed by an engaging keynote presentation by digitization expert Roy Tennant, Senior Program Manager, RLG Programs, OCLC Programs and Research. Mr. Tennant's presentation, "Going Digital: Context, Impact, Future" covered a lot of ground, including the tensions surrounding access vs. preservation, best practices in digital capture procedures, considerations in describing special collections that have been digitized, and community engagement issues.

Mr. Tennant's address focused on the need to increase the public's online access to library collections through broader and more vigorous digitization of these collections. Remarking that "the perfect has been the enemy of the possible," he encouraged the audience to value quantity over quality in digitizing their libraries' materials, given that any level of access is better than none at all. He then spoke about how to improve the exposure of digitized library collections to web crawlers, Open Archive Initiative (OAI) harvesters, and other search mechanisms. He also described how to make judicious use of metadata and how to involve researchers and the community in "annotating" digitized content. Mr. Tennant's compelling comments concluded the meeting on an inspiring, thought-provoking note.

The annual meeting was then adjourned. Participants gathered for a wine and cheese reception in the beautiful MoMA Library and Archives, where the terrace view overlooking the museum's stunning sculpture garden was enjoyed by all.

Sam Streed
Author: Sam Streed
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