The Library as a Movement

A conversation between Marie Østergaard, Library Director Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark and R. David Lankes, Director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science on the idea that the library is a movement of communities members, librarians, politicians, partners and more.

If you would rather just listen, here’s an MP3 version.

Audio only of the conversation

Library Renaissance: Building the International Knowledge School

tl;dr version:

Two years ago I did a world tour where I talked about a librarianship based on knowledge and community engagement. I ended up doing a lot more listening than talking. I met amazing librarians, I found common cause, and ideas of how we all could work closer together. So, now it’s time to bring together those seeking a new librarianship into an emerging school of thought. We’re having a planning meeting in Florence, Italy on September 18th. If you are unable to join us in person, we will also be bringing in folks virtually. At that meeting a group of amazing librarians, library organizations, and partners will plan a sort of international progressive conference. Want to play?

Full Version:

There is an emerging school of thought around librarians, libraries, and their relationship to their communities. This school of thought seeks to go beyond data, materials, and information to knowledge, helping people make meaning in their lives, and focusing on communities making smarter decisions. A school of thought goes beyond a smattering of innovative services, or single lighthouse agencies. It is a comprehensive approach to a discipline that ties in theory and practice. The power of these schools of thought can be seen in architecture (modernism that transformed urban living with skyscrapers), economics (changing how countries see debt and how to build global financial marketplaces), to the arts (impressionism), and research (naturalistic inquiry, critical theory, postmodernism).

Right now, this new school of thought in librarianship can be seen in a FabLab driving through the Netherlands, an advocacy campaign in the United States focused on transformation, on new service models in the cities of Brazil, in an atlas of new librarianship, in the advocacy MOOCs of Canada, and a distributed digital library master’s degree in the European Union, and a new public square in Pistoia. It is being shaped in the field, the classroom, and the halls of academia. It is championed by an international cast of librarians, scholars, government workers, and library supporters. The work has resulted in numerous publications, videos, and Internet sites.

There is a loose and growing network of people across the globe working to push the field of librarianship forward. This network exists in email threads, Tweets, Facebook groups, and conference sidebar conversations. It is time to pull this network together, forge a common narrative for the future of libraries, and produce an actionable agenda to equip global change agents to enact new library service in communities across the face of the Earth. While this change will happen with and within existing associations, institutions, and agencies, there needs to for a separate conversation to share knowledge, tactics, and resources to make these changes possible.

To this end, I am proposing a series of national “inventories” leading to an international academy where delegates of the national events share and learn with colleagues to build a strong collaborative network. The shape and nature of this network will emerge from the process and is seen not as an organization or “place,” but rather as an inter-personal connection for projects, mentoring, and support. The ultimate goal of the network is to constitute the new school of thought around a librarianship of knowledge and meaning over materials and buildings. The ultimate goal of the school of thought, what in South Carolina we have been calling the Knowledge School, is to improve society through helping our communities make smarter decisions.

As you can see there are a lot of details to be worked out. However, we already have a number of resources developed from text books, to curricula, to project plans, to documentaries. We also have initial buy in of several international organizations. On September 18th we will be gathering (in person and virtually) in Florence, Italy to plan for the international events.

I’ll be keeping folks up to date here as details and concrete plans emerge.

If you and/or your organization are interested in helping organize this endeavor let me know: rdlankes@mailbox.sc.edu

Hearst awards major grant to College of Information and Communications

Hearst awards major grant to College of Information and Communications
Posted July 5, 2017
by Rebekah Friedman
Photo: Students, faculty and staff participate in South Carolina’s “Read-In” at the State House.

The College of Information and Communications has received a $100,000 Hearst Foundations grant to strengthen South Carolina communities through comprehensive literacy efforts.

The grant will fund the Community Based Literacy Initiative, a partnership between the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy (SCCCBL) and USC’s College of Education. The initiative builds upon work already being done by Cocky’s Reading Express, SCCCBL’s statewide outreach program.
Continue reading “Hearst awards major grant to College of Information and Communications”

Help Enhance South Carolina’s Emergency Response for Persons with Disabilities During and After a Crisis

Hurricane Matthew Survivors with Disabilities

Are you a survivor of Hurricane Matthew with a disability living in South Carolina?

If so, The University of South Carolina needs your input regarding your experiences during the Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent flooding. The information collected will not be identifiable and will be used to enhance South Carolina’s emergency response services for persons with disabilities during and after a crisis.

COMPLETE SURVEY HERE: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCHurricaneDisability

If you have any questions or if you would like assistance (ie. have the survey read to you, alternative format, etc.) completing the survey, please contact Dr. Robert Dawson at 803-386-1711 or email at crisisawareness@gmail.com.

Fear of the Dark: Crafting a Security Narrative in Libraries

[tl;dr version: Rather than simply fight the current false dichotomy of security versus freedom, librarians should craft an alternative narrative around security through knowledge.]

We fear the unknown. It is a truism from fairy tales to military strategy. The other, the alien, the undefined sets people on edge. It is also apparent in the recent reaction to the Paris attacks and the attacks in Africa and the Middle East. It is leading to a dangerous and misguided narrative around migrants and Muslims.

For some this is a narrative built on racism. For some it is clearly fear-mongering for political gain. It ignores the facts (such as 18-24 month background checks-more review than any other entry point into our nation) and frankly ugly truths (a clear bias of one religious affiliation over another).

However while the “fear the Muslim” narrative is abhorrent and must be challenged for the good of the soul of this nation, I want to talk about a parallel narrative. It is one that librarians can have a powerful role in countering and in crafting an alternative narrative that ensures the values we hold as a profession. We must directly challenge the narrative of freedom versus security.

The security narrative flattens the complexity of preventing harm to citizens as a choice: give up some freedoms to ensure security. Give us (the government) your private information, your freedom of transport and right to assemble and we will take care of you. These freedoms, so goes the argument, are not really losses since if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. The narrative is a false dichotomy: it is either freedom or security.

The primary flaw in this narrative is the belief that security ONLY comes from restrictions of rights and freedoms. This is a misguided as the racist and reactionary belief that terrorism only comes from the Muslim faith, ignoring both the overwhelming number of Muslims that condemn violence and the terrorism perpetrated by Christians and other religions. Terrorism has nothing to do with a love of God, but of a hatred of our fellow man.

Librarians must craft a narrative of security through knowledge. Every day I work amongst Muslims and Buddhists, Christians and Jews, atheists and deists and I’m sure a bit of Wicca thrown in as well. I stand shoulder to shoulder with a diverse body of faculty staff and students every day. A large portion of our student body comes from India and China. We have students from the Middle East and the former Soviet Block. I stand without fear because we are all a part of a common community bound around knowledge.

Many will rightfully point out that this is a privileged community. In essence I stand with people able to afford and have access to higher education. It is a fair point. So I ask, instead of this invalidating my point, why not ensure equitable access to knowledge and learning to all as a way of countering hate, and insecurity.

Our libraries – school, academic, public, special, all libraries – should be platforms where communities can come together to learn, and learn side by side. Libraries should craft a narrative that says the most secure societies are ones that learn together. Stop watching who I call or what I buy, and start helping me to learn. Give me a stake in opportunity (in this nation and beyond), give me something to lose

Neighborhood watches shouldn’t be citizens looking out for strangers, but libraries working to introduce strangers and transform them into allies. Librarians can’t simply fight the surveillance state, they must model an alternative where openness of debate and ideas brings security. As librarians we shouldn’t be seen as simply obstructing the work of security, we should be seen as pillars of security through knowledge, learning, and community engagement. Library cards instead of ID cards. Databases of articles instead of databases of Muslims. In times of crisis libraries are places of refuge AND places that fight disinformation and paranoia with facts and research.

This is a constructive narrative that transcends political point of view or party. It is a narrative that says to our communities (towns, colleges, schools) we are keeping you safe by making you smarter. Dispelling the unknown, the dark woods, the other, the alien is a click and visit away. We are havens not to escape misinformation and fear, but havens from ignorance where you can embrace your fellow community members and build a strong diverse community.

I’m Looking for Doctoral Students

Come study with me…come help me change the world. Below is the recruitment announcement for Syracuse’s Ph.D. program. I am looking for good folks to come and work with me. It is increasingly vital that we have information scientists and new faculty in the field. Let me know if you are interested. I’d love to talk.


Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies welcomes applicants for our doctoral program. Admitted students are assured of at least four year’s funding (including summers) along with tuition and other support.

The interdisciplinary nature of our program is visible through the backgrounds of the 30 current doctoral students.  These students hail from ten countries and have academic training in the social sciences, communications, business, computer science, librarianship, linguistics, information science, and others areas.   Our doctoral program is a welcoming and inclusive place for scholars from under-represented populations, something we see as a defining element of our program.

Doctoral students pursue individualized course plans that are tuned to their particular research interests and needs.  This means advising and, more importantly, close working relationships with faculty members is a cornerstone of the Syracuse University iSchool Ph.D. program. This is why it is both residential and full-time.

We celebrate the success of our recent graduates who are taking up tenure-track positions in premier research institutions and exceptional liberal arts colleges, excelling in academic and policy think tanks, and pursuing entrepreneurial success! Current students are earning awards for their publications and dissertation work, continuing a long tradition of such recognition.

For 2016, we are particularly interested in speaking with applicants and seeing applications from those whose interests align with one or more of the following research areas

  • Text and data mining, Natural Language Processing and Information Retrieval
  • Computational social science, visualization, and data analytics
  • Agent-based modeling
  • Information policy, Internet governance, and telecommunications policy
  • Librarianship
  • Mobile computing
  • Data infrastructure and services in support of research
  • Organizational impacts of ICTs (e.g., Citizen Science, FLOSS, Wikipedia, mobile work, distributed scientific collaboration, and infrastructure studies)
  • Information security and privacy
  • Social computing, social media, social networks, and crowdsourcing
  • Wireless telecommunications policy and telecommunication service markets

You can learn more about the Syracuse iSchool faculty and interests at https://ischool.syr.edu/research/faculty-research-areas/

You can learn more about the doctoral program and application (due 3 January, 2016) at https://ischool.syr.edu/academics/graduate/doctoral/information-science-and-technology/

Please reach out to the faculty member whose interests draw you forward, the program director, Steve Sawyer, at ssawyer@syr.edu , or our program manager, Jennifer Barclay, at istphd@syr.edu with questions!

IMLS Funds Community Profile System

16826031270_745f4698b7_oWe’re aiming to take “The Community is the Collection” from slogan to reality with a new National Leadership Grant from IMLS.

Co-PIs: Yun Huang, R. David Lankes, Jian Qin

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) is partnering with Coulter Library at Onondaga Community College (OCC) and Fayetteville Free Library (FFL – an Onondaga county public library) to respond to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG) Program, addressing IMLS’s Learning Spaces in Libraries priority. This project can best be summarized as: the community is the collection. We propose to design a Community Profile System to expand library collections to include human expertise, particularly in the STEM fields. This system will enable librarians to collect communities’ learning needs, identify relevant community experts, and link the resources to serve the learning needs in a cost-efficient manner. This 3-year project will accomplish four activities: 1) assess community members’ learning needs and identify community experts’ interests and their availability in participating different libraries’ services through survey and interview studies; 2) build data models that capture the various needs and dynamic people resources as collection; 3) develop a workflow by identifying librarians’ roles in data collection, organization, and validation; 4) prototype and implement the system with user interactions and privacy protection features, as well as evaluate the system prototype via a system pilot study and diverse test cases.

Link to IMLS Announcement

Join the Expect More Collaboratory

Four Years ago I wrote Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today’s Complex World to start a conversation between librarians and the communities they serve. Since that time thousands have used the book to start conversations, teach students, do board development, and even shape director and dean searches. The time has come to take Expect More to the next step: The Expect More Collaboratory.

This is a call to join partners in expanding Expect More into a comprehensive and expanding set of community building resources. These resources will include online learning events for library decision makers, a physical and digital workbook, and an ongoing series of engagements to advocate for greater community focus and involvement in libraries. The Expect More Collaboratory will deliver a multimedia web-based curriculum for use by librarians with boards, principals, provosts, and communities.

So consider this a call for crowd sourcing. Please help in preparing our communities for better libraries. I’ve put together a site for more information and a brief video call for participation.

Expect More Collaboratory (http://www.ExpectMoreLibrary.com)*

 

*Please note this used to point to the Expect More World Tour, and you may need to refresh your browser. The direct link is https://davidlankes.org/?page_id=7974

 

Keynotes From ILEAD USA March

My favorite professional development project started a new cohort (in 10 different states) in March. Below are links to just the keynotes from that session. All are awesome and well worth your time (with the exception of that Lankes character who talks too much).

Everything You Learned in Library School is Wrong 

David Lankes, Syracuse University, School of Information Studies, Syracuse, New York.  Professor and Dean’s Scholar on New Librarianship

We all know that Libraries are Good and Necessary Things and Libraries Collect, Organize, and Provide Access to Information. That’s what we were taught in library school right? Except of course, they don’t. Libraries don’t do anything except exert gravity and shield you from the rain. It is librarians and the people in the library that makes the world a better place. Collections are just tools, like buildings, and books, and databases, and 3D printers. This keynote will focus on how librarians are radical positive change agents that make communities better.

Inspired Outreach Inspired 

John Emerson, an activist, graphic designer, writer, and programmer based in New York City creator of  http://backspace.com/notes

How do you engage the hearts and minds of your audience? Connect and empower with outreach that makes people say “Aha!” and “Let’s do it!”

FLATLAND:  A Statistical Romance of Many Dimensions.

Eli Neiburger, Associate Director, IT and Production, Ann Arbor District 

In which our Hero, A. Librarian, must search for scalars amidst an increasingly flat landscape, with which to earn the favor of capricious higher-dimensional beings, before her entire world collapses to a single ultradense font of information, only to find that the only dimension that truly matters is   LOVE.

Perspectives and Advice on Accessibility and Universal Design

Sina Bahram, an accessibility consultant, researcher, and entrepreneur

Join Sina Bahram as he walks through the concepts of accessibility and universal design. These core principles are fundamental to understanding how to be relevant in the 21st century to all audiences regardless of physical or cognitive ability. Through exploring a narrative about technology, access to information and the physical world, and practical tips and tricks about steps any of us can take, Sina will both motivate and show us how to augment our content, interactions, and thinking to become more inclusive.

“Great People Make Great Libraries:  Know Yourself.  Grow Yourself.  And Take Your Library With You!”

David Bendekovic, President, The B. A. David Company, Syracuse, New York  

Your ability to reach your goals has as much to do with how you choose to see the world as it does with your level of education and intelligence.  This keynote will give you the keys to thinking in a more powerful way about yourself, the people around you, and the work you want to get done. What You Do Makes A Difference. You Just Have To Figure Out What Kind Of Difference You Want To Make.