Last year I read William Gibson's latest novel, Pattern Recognition. In it, the protagonist travels from the US to London, and describes the city as a mirrorworld, in that it's pretty much the same as back home, but some things are just a little bit off; just slightly different to make her feel as though she's looking at a reflection of the real thing instead of the real thing.
Last week I finished an article titled, Guerillas in the mist: breaking through boundaries to provide a first-class remote library service, by Heather Keeble and Louise McGill, who both work in the UK. (Serials, 17(1) March 2004 19-24). After I read it I immediately scrawled "mirrorworld!" at the top of the first page because I have so been there with just about everything they describe, and yet usually in just a slightly different way. One example is that one of their students is on a submarine, so they kinda have to work closely with him to figure out where and when to get him his documents. I have a
distant (duh!) student who works on an oil platform in the Black Sea (I think that's where he is at least).
This article offers a good summary of how we distance librarians really need to operate outside of normal channels (thus the guerrilla reference). Some of the passages I highlighted include the differences between equality and equity in service, how student records and library systems are often too rigid to accomodate distance students, how they can't send books to students who don't reside in the same country as the main library, how they have a challenge persuading their academic colleagues that librarians teach rather than train, and how they got a teaching and learning grant to develop an interactive information literacy tutorial to be integrated within various courses, which is exactly what I'm involved in this semester! Freaky, man! ;-)