On the Passing of Fred Roper

I just learned that Fred Roper has passed away. Fred was a previous dean of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. When I joined as director in 2016, Fred was not only welcoming, but extremely generous with his time. He was an invaluable mentor in my first true administrative role.

We would have regular breakfasts to talk about the school, and he was always forthcoming with advice and learned experience. He always said he would never offer advice unless I asked…he mostly stuck to that. In the end his advice was always welcomed and sought after.

I leave it to others to write about his academic achievements, his love of Chapel Hill, his award winning baking abilities, and his deep caring. I can only remark on how I will miss our discussions and his giving nature. I send my deepest condolences to his spouse Jon, and to the entire South Carolina community. Today we lost a great one.

Expect More now in Arabic

Thanks to Mahmoud Rashwan, Expect More is now available free in Arabic. You can download the PDF on the Expect More page or directly here.

Here’s a brief biography of Mahmoud, the translator:

“As a passionate advocate for Guided reading and lifelong learning, I have served as a High School Librarian since 2002. My mission is to foster a love for reading, critical thinking, and information literacy among school community members.

I work closely with both students and teachers to facilitate access to information in a wide variety of formats and guiding students through research for their projects, I’m here to empower our school community.

One of my passions is introducing young adults to literature. I spend quite a lot of time daily discussing with students how to choose their readings to improve their skills and increase their knowledge. There’s nothing quite like seeing a student’s eyes light up when they discover a new favorite book!

I hold a master’s degree in library and information science from University College London [MLIS UCL2020].

I believe that a librarian isn’t just a keeper of books; we’re navigators, linkers, and champions of knowledge. If anyone needs a book recommendation or has a research question, we are here with a warm smile and a wealth of resources! ?”

Thank you for all your kindness and work Mahmoud! And if there are any publishers looking for print and/or distribute this translation, please let me know and I can put you in touch with Mr. Rashwan.

Libraries of the Future, Wildest Dreams

Erik Boekesteijn made a fantastic video on some library thinkers talking about the library of the future. It was an honor to be on the virtual stage with Nick Poole, Jane Cowell, Sandy Hirsh, Futurist Lidewij Edelkoort at the Computers in Libraries 2024 conference.

What’s in Store for Libraries with AI? State Libraries Initiative

“What’s in Store for Libraries with AI? State Libraries Initiative” Computers in Libraries 2024

Abstract: Hear how this group of state libraries plans to explore the varied roles state libraries play in the use of AI and in their support of efforts around workforce development in AI. They plan to gather data, build an environmental scan, and interview library staff to provide focused explorations of the topic with participating state librarians. They plan to equip state libraries to proactively respond to the opportunities and perils in AI, gain insight, and participant-specific ideas for projects and applications to better position them in growing efforts in AI workforce development, and in their own outreach and support missions. Hear more and get excited by their idea to create an “AI Petting Zoo” where state library staff can experiment with AI products.

State libraries to explore strategic use of AI around workforce development

February 1, 2024

AUSTIN, TX—The Collaborative Institute for Rural Communities & Librarianship (CIRCL) today announced the launch of the SLAAIT Project. The State Libraries and AI Technologies Working Group is a joint project of 14 state libraries and the Gigabit Libraries Network to understand the opportunities, challenges, and risks associated with AI and the library sector.

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already profoundly changed the way people find information, communicate, produce media, and learn about the world. AI will continue to change work; from automation in manufacturing, to how energy is distributed across a smart grid, to the use of generative AI to produce marketing, the workforce of our states will change,” according to the SLAAIT web site.

Participating state library agencies to date are from: Texas, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio. Participation remains open and more states are anticipated to join. “It feels like we are at another seminal crossroads in libraries and access to information,” says Jennifer Nelson, New Jersey State Librarian.

Following the release of a federal executive order in October, an increasing number of state governments are also proposing or implementing new regulations and guidelines for the use of AI. This is creating a demand for strategic response from the state library agencies. “We’re so appreciative of Don and David’s leadership to ensure that Delaware Libraries, and all libraries,
can continue to stay ahead of the curve as technology evolves!” says Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian of Delaware.

More information on the project can be found at https://slaait.circl.community

Coordinated by The University of Texas at Austin, the Collaborative Institute for Rural Communities & Librarianship is a think tank by, for, and of the rural library community and aligned partners including universities, government agencies and companies. https://circl.community

Book Bans: Changing the Narrative in Libraries

“Book Bans: Changing the Narrative in Libraries” Leadership Staff Meeting. Central Arkansas Library System. Little Rock, AK

Abstract: While librarians should never surrender the fight for intellectual freedom, there is utility in changing the narrative of the conversation. Rather than fighting a charged reactionary “battle” against censorship, we should use local narratives that emphasize the professionalism of librarians and the larger societal benefits of public libraries. AI and workforce development provides one such opportunity.

The Lankes Corollaries Redux

Last year I published “The Lankes Corollaries” in the Access: An International Journal of Nepal Library Association. I have recreated it here…and enhanced it a bit (it was published with a creative commons license). To cite it, please support my colleagues in Nepal:

Lankes, R. D. (2023). The Lankes Corollaries . Access: An International Journal of Nepal Library Association, 2(01), 200–208. https://doi.org/10.3126/access.v2i01.58999 

Abstract: This piece explores a series of corollaries to Ranganathan’s five laws of librarianship. These corollaries talk about how librarians work with communities to ensure that service is shaped throughout the community. Such shaping moves libraries away from some pre-determined standard model, and into hyperlocal organizations ultimately facilitating knowledge creation.

Introduction: In 1931 S. R. Ranganathan proposed 5 laws of librarianship (Ranganathan, 1931)

  1. Books are for use
  2. Every person his or her book
  3. Every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the reader
  5. A library is a growing organism

While others have tried to expand/revise/or update them (Gorman, 1998, Simpson 2008), the originals stand up. Clearly today we would expand books to resources and even services (e.g., services are for use) and readers have become members or just “people” – as we see that the library is a part of a person’s life – hopefully a significant part.


However, Ranganathan was clearly being aspirational: what we want to be, not so much how we get there. What I propose are 5 corollaries to the laws–guide post for library workers and organizations to achieve these lofty goals:

  1. The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities
  2. To be a librarian is to be a radical positive change agent with your community
  3. A room full of books is a closet, but an empty room with a librarian serving their community is a library
  4. Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities
  5. A library should be a safe space to explore dangerous ideas.