OF the People

“OF the People.” National Assembly Busan Library. Busan, Korea.

Abstract: National and parliamentary libraries are searching for a new mission. In this presentation I argue for a public facing mission reinforcing the infrastructure of democracy through local public libraries.

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Future of Libraries

“Future of Libraries.” National Library of Korea 77th Anniversary Conference. Seoul, Korea.

Abstract: There is no future for libraries. There are, instead, as many futures as there are libraries. And that means we need to rethink everything from networks to certification to who we call librarians.

Slides:

Speech Script

SLIDE 1

Greetings. I would like to thank the National Library for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today. They have asked me to talk on the topic of the future of libraries. It is perhaps then, somewhat surprising that in my work and in my discussions with librarians around the world, I have come to the conclusion that there is no future for libraries.

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A Final Message for the Newcomer Project

The Newcomer Project, an EU funded effort to bring together librarians across borders to discuss support of community and particularly older adults, had its last meeting. I was unable to join in person, and so prepared these remarks. Text of the speech is below the video.

Video Script:

I’m just going to say it. I’m jealous.

For me this will be the project that could have been.

When we started, I wasn’t going to be an occasional video or Zoom, but be there, in person, becoming part of a community of librarians dedicated to their communities and their profession across borders. I’m jealous because that is exactly what I see there now. Every one part of that community.

Through our rough start in lockdowns, and the move to Zoom, and then the trips and dinners and meetings, you have built a new community. One that I don’t think will stop after this meeting.

We have seen examples of great librarianship. Been challenged with new ideas, and found common ground. But more important, we have seen the value of what we don’t hold in common and how that is the strength of diversity.

For too long our profession has been focused on replication and adoption. Under the name of best practice or toolkit, for too long folks have seen libraries as variations on a theme. For too long through the 21st century we have fought about what is the ideal blueprint of a library. Associations, standards committees, and yes library scholars, have looked to be efficient and universal.

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Bowden Professor First Year Highlights

The following are some of the highlights of my work as the Bowden Professor.

The New Logo for the work of the Bowden Professorship

Invited Speakers with Students:

Angela Craig, Director Charleston County Public Library

Roosevelt Weeks, Director Austin Public Library

Dianne Connery, Pottsboro Public Library

John Chrastka, EveryLibrary

Bowden Capstone Scholars:

Chloe Santiago – framework for a grant-fundable program to train library leaders on power building and political and financial literacy specifically geared towards libraries who struggle to receive adequate funding, particularly those in low-income areas and historically BIPOC communities

Sarah Varenhorst – With San Diego State University’s health science librarian developed resources related to health science information, with a focus on vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Gonzales – Worked with the Chattanooga Public Library in looking at ways to enhance its Summer Reading Programs and transform them into true early literacy efforts.

Emma Hetrick – Worked with the U.S. Embassy in Rome on the American Corner YouLab in Pistoia and the American Corner in Trieste. The goal of the project was to enhance the reading collections of both Corners, as well as create a better understanding of studying in the U.S.

Miriam Early – Worked with the Georgia Public Library Service to provide management, training, and support for GPLS’s DigEx program, which offers administrative support for public library-created digital exhibits.

Libraries Lead the New Normal:

Podcast hosted by Beth Patin (Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University), David Lankes (Virginia & Charles Bowden Professor, iSchool, University of Texas at Austin), and Mike Eisenberg (Dean/Professor Emeritus, iSchool, University of Washington); 19 Episodes and Counting

Assessing the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC):

Contracted with TSLAC to evaluate effectiveness of federal library funds. Helped to set the next five-year plan for supporting Texas libraries. Developing capacity within TSLAC to use data on library impact and advocacy for the state’s rural libraries. Developing voluntary certification for rural library staff to provide better service, and to defend the free expression of ideas.

Rural Library Development:

Working with rural libraries, such as Jarrell and Pottsboro, to improve library service to rural populations, and the nearly 2 million Texans with no library service.

Externally Funded Projects:

New Librarianship Symposia, IMLS and Others. Organizer. Convened an international series of symposia on the issues of post-neutrality librarianship; diversity, equity, and inclusion; cross-border connections; and a post-COVID new normal agenda. The New Librarianship Symposium Series was sponsored by the University of South Carolina, MIT Press, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the U.S. Library of Congress, the British Library, KB National Library of the Netherlands, OCLC, URFIST de Bordeaux, Enssib, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the American Indian Library Association, the University of Texas at Austin Bowden Folio, and Gigabit Libraries Network. $35,000

NEWCOMER Building a Network Community Centered Librarianship, Erasmus+ European Union. Project Consultant. Build a network of librarians from Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands to exchange best practice in community librarianship focused on inclusion and adult education. $137,798 (€117,250)

LADDER An IMLS funded project to prepare technically oriented future-faculty to teach library science students topics such as AI and data science. Partners include Austin Public Library, University of Texas Libraries, and Navarro High School. Co-PIS, Soo Young Rieh, Ken Fleischmann, David Lankes. $623,501

Presentations:

“Less; Better.” State Librarian’s Program, New Jersey Library Association Annual Conference 2022. Atlantic City, NJ.

“Serving & Saving Communities.” Tennessee Library Association Annual Conference 2022. Knoxville, TN.

“Relationships Instead of Transaction.”  X Congreso Nacional de Bibliotecas Públicas. Online.

“New Librarianship and Defining the Role of Librarians in Today’s Communities.” National Library of Peru. Online

“Challenges of Academic Libraries in the Digital Landscape: Retaining Value by Retaining the Human Connection” National Library Day Keynote. Sharda University, Greater Noida, India.

“Come together: Librarians across borders for better communities.” Next Library Festival 2021. Online.

“New Librarianship and Our Better Angels.” #vBIB as an independent, digital conference – organized by the Professional Association Information Library (BIB) and TIB – Leibniz Information Center Technology and Natural Sciences and University Library. Online.

“A New Normal – Renaissance of the public Library.” Stelline Conference, Milan, Italy. Online.

“Libraries Leading the New Normal.” Computers in Libraries 2021. Online.

“Librarians Building the New Normal.” Brazilian Federation of Associations of Librarians, Information Scientists and Institutions Keynote. Via Video.

New Logo for the Bowden Professor

Logo: The Virginia and Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship at the University of Texas at Austin with the motto "great libraries build great communities"

For a year I’ve been playing around with a logo for the work of the Bowden Professorship. I know it sounds minor, but for me a logo is a sense of identity. It not only creates a visible mark for sponsored activities, it makes it seem “real” but beyond just me.

The generous gift of Virginia and Charles Bowden supports my work, yes, but also library science students at the Texas iSchool. It supports library experts, speakers, writings, conversations and more as the work progresses.

One note on the logo itself. The motto added “Great Libraries Build Great Communities” is an obvious riff on my quote about bad good and great libraries. I did think to add great librarians build great communities, but wanted to put out a bigger tent to recognize library staff, boards, friends, and the whole ecosystem.

Help! Connecting Great Students with Great Libraries

Looking to get some projects done and help students at the same time?

Library students in the Texas program are required to complete a Capstone project. These projects are 125 hours that constitute: 

“a fieldwork-based project under the guidance of a field supervisor from the organization or department sponsoring the project. Students must produce a deliverable and undertake a single, large project (not several small ones) as one of the aims of a PEP is for students to learn how to manage a considerable piece of work and deal with obstacles and challenges that arise in long projects.”

I am funding students to work with libraries on projects. These could be anything from planning a new type of service, examining the effectiveness of programs, or developing professional development. The only constraints are that unlike internships, this about one big project, students must be able to do the work remotely, and the results must be shared.

I will be meeting with these students on a regular basis to provide support and mentoring. This should minimize the amount of time you or your staff need to supervise the students. If you are interested in capstone projects, I will need an abstract of the project and a point person. Also, beyond the paid scholars, I will happily connect students to interesting projects.

If you are interested in supporting Capstone projects, please let me know (rdlankes@utexas.edu). As this work evolves, I would be very interested in your ideas on improving it for future years. Also, please feel to share this with colleagues that might be interested.

Here’s a list of previous projects:

Collective Individuality

“Collective Individuality: How libraries can support individual action” State Library Victoria Public Library Planning Meeting.

Abstract: Library networks need to change from platforms supporting similar services across libraries, to platforms that allow libraries to better look like and serve their unique communities.

Script below video

Below is the script I used for the video…typos and all.

So, you are meeting to discuss the next 3 year plan for the public library network. As we’ve just seen, a lot can happen in three years. Our phones get smaller, our computers get faster, oh and global pandemics and the first land war in Europe since the 1940s happen. 

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Preparing Future iSchool Faculty in Librarianship: LADDER

Great news! I am part of a team headed by Dr. Soo Young Rieh and including Dr. Ken Fleischmann that just got funded by IMLS. The main goal of the project is to create future iSchool faculty highly skilled in data science and AI with a strong connection to the library field. 

One of the complaints I often here from librarians and library science students is that technically-oriented faculty don’t understand or have experience in librarianship. In this project, rather than “skilling up” library-oriented doc students, we’ll be “contexting-up” data folks with the context, values, and core strengths of librarianship. This is actually how I became attracted to libraries in my doctoral work. 

The grant is also a response to the concerns of library directors that faculty and students don’t get first hand learning in libraries.

Nine iSchool doctoral students will be selected as LADDER Fellows over three years and will be funded by the IMLS. Each year, the three PIs and three doctoral students will collaborate with librarians, rotating across three library contexts: Austin Public Library, Navarro High School Library, and UT libraries. Another aspect of this grant is that LADDER Fellows will be asked to form a doctoral committee like other doctoral students will do. What’s unique here is that each committee member takes a specific mentoring role: a research mentor, a professional engagement mentor, and a teaching mentor. The collaborative mentoring is designed to provide a triangulated educational experience for doctoral students so they will grow to be strong researchers and capable educators who understand the importance of applying their knowledge to authentic library contexts.

Keep an eye out for cohort recruitment!

http://www.imls.gov/news/imls-announces-21-million-investment-us-library-and-archive-initiatives

Less; Better

“Less; Better.” State Librarian’s Program, New Jersey Library Association Annual Conference 2022. Atlantic City, NJ.

Abstract: Librarians are service oriented. All too often that translates into trying to be all things for all people. When you put diverse communities at the core of a library, the pressure for doing more increases. However, trying to be all things to all people is a sure way to pleasing no one, and burning out library workers in the process. In the shadow of the pandemic, our communities need us more than ever, and they need us to find the balance between serving a community, and saving it.

Slides