Live in Central New York? I Need Your Blood

On June 4 from 12-6 is the 6th Annual Lankes Family Blood Drive at Holy Cross Church in Syracuse, NY. Ready access to blood has saved my life through my treatments for cancer. One pint of blood can save the lives of several people. Summer is also a high need time for blood donations.

There are spots still available for donors. The Syracuse community has been so supportive of me and my family. I am asking you to extend that love to cancer patients across the area.

Please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit and enter: LANKES to schedule an appointment. Also, there is good chance you can get a $5 Amazon gift card!

My Remarks on Library Neutrality for the ALA MidWinter President’s Panel

Here are my remarks for Jim Neal’s Presidential Program was “Are libraries neutral?” I was on the “con” side of the debate. tl;dr version – no they are not.

The video of the session should be available soon, but some of the participants have posted their remarks (I’ll add as they come online here):

Chris Bourg (con):

Jamie LaRue (pro):

Emily Drabinski (Responder):

Kathleen McCook’s Booklist (Responder):

My Remarks

My fellow librarians I want to get up here and deliver an impassioned speech, full of alter calls and homilies on how you cannot be passionate advocates for the good of your communities and still claim to be neutral. I want to appeal to your emotions and throw out tweetable lines like “I’d rather be damned for honest efforts to improve the world, than lauded for my objectivity.” I want to point out that freedom of speech, that we take as a given, was once a treasonous concept and has never been equivalent to endorsing speech nor a guarantee from consequence of that speech. I want to remind you that you became librarians to make a difference, to uphold a core of values and that you are professionals, not neutral clerks in a library machine.

I want to do that, but I won’t. It would make us feel good. Well, it would make me feel good. But it would ignore the very real consequences of accepting that librarians, and the libraries that we build and run, are not neutral organizations. Nor will I have a philosophical debate on whether human neutrality is even possible as my colleague has already done so including citations to studies and better thinking than I am capable of.

Instead, I will make a single proposition, and ground it in the pragmatic nature of our profession.

Continue reading “My Remarks on Library Neutrality for the ALA MidWinter President’s Panel”

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:

Eisenberg to Give Deans’ and Directors’ Lecture April 3

Postcard for the event

iSchool movement co-founder to deliver annual lecture 

Dr. Michael Eisenberg, dean emeritus and professor emeritus of the Information School of the University of Washington, will deliver the 2017 Deans’ and Directors’ Lecture on Monday, April 3, at the South Carolina State Library, located at 1500 Senate Street. His presentation “South Carolina – Your Time is Now,” will begin at 7 p.m.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the School of Library and Information Science.

Eisenberg served as founding dean of the Information School at the University of Washington from 1998 to 2006. Known as an innovator and entrepreneur, Mike approached the iSchool as a startup—transforming the school into a top-ranked, broad-based information school with academic programs on all levels, increasing enrollment 400%, generating millions in funded research, and making a difference in industry, the public sector and education.

Prior to the University of Washington, Eisenberg worked as professor of information studies at Syracuse University, where he created the Information Institute of Syracuse. A prolific author, he has worked with thousands of students, as well as people in business, government, and communities to improve individual and organizational information and technology access and use. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University at Albany (SUNY).

His address will make the case for the importance of the information and communications fields in every area of human endeavor. Eisenberg will challenge South Carolinians to embrace that importance by thinking and acting big and bold, broad and deep to make the world a better place through programs, research, services, and engagement.

The School of Library and Information Science Deans’ and Directors’ Lecture honors the previous deans and directors of the school. A reception and ceremony for outstanding students and the induction of new members into Beta Phi Mu, the national honor society in library and information science, will take place before the event.

For more information, contact Angela Wright at or 803-777-3858.  Find more information on the School of Library and Information Science at

December Update

[As director of the University of South Carolina School of Information and Library Science I send out a monthly update to faculty, students, alumni, and partners. This month seemed like a good time to sharing them here a well.]

It is time for a December update on the school. Today marks the end of the Fall semester, and the halfway point for my first year as director. Given the end of the year and commencement is coming pardon me if I get a bit reflective in this update.

November and December have been busy months for SLIS. Here is just a taste of what have been up to:

  • Darin Freeburg had an article accepted to the Journal of Information Science.
  • Jennifer Arns presented at the Copenhagen Business School at the Design Conference.
  • Heather Moorefield-Lang had two proposals accepted at ALA Conference. By the way she is also running for AASL region 4 director, so if you are an AASL member in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia please consider supporting her.
  • Cocky’s Reading Express continues to keep rolling and is the subject of a piece for ETV’s Palmetto Scene for their work with SCE&G. Also, our own doctoral candidate Liz Hartnett will join the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy in the new year.

This month caps off a very busy semester for SLIS. Here is list of some of the things we’ve been working on this semester:

  • Began the search for 4 new members of the faculty.
  • Prepared for our ALA Accreditation by drafting a pretty hefty program study.
  • Celebrated the 10th Anniversary ALL Awards and recognized champions for literacy in South Carolina.
  • Raised the visibility of research at SLIS highlighting our research related to the 1,000 year Columbia Flood, our international work, and posting a major presence at conferences such as IFLA.
  • Built strong collaborations with the Honors program and the Schools of Education and Engineering.
  • Made improvements to Davis College including better lighting and an upgraded teaching lab.
  • Continued to work to grow our undergraduate program and improve all of our degrees with your feedback.

Not bad for a semester. And we have no plans to slow down in the new year.

I also had a great trip to Maine for the Maine Library Association Conference in November. A shout out to our Maine alums (and current students). I learned a lot about the history of bringing the South to the North.

At the conference, I talked about how these days of fake news and an unprecedented presidential election make it an extremely important time for librarians and librarianship. You can hear the whole thing here:

We have all been doing a lot of thinking about these kinds of issues as we work through our Knowledge School Initiative. Through listening sessions and site visits to iSchools it is becoming more and more apparent that it is time to move the conversation of Library and Information Science as a field forward.

For too long we have participated in a semantic game with librarianship and information science. Are they separate? Is information science the evolution of library science or the transferrable parts outside the context of libraries?

Here is where I keep finding myself: library science is the soul of information science and must act as the conscience. It is the necessary question about why we organize and how we should use our knowledge, technology, and tools. It is the quest for social justice in social science.

The knowledge school we are envisioning at SLIS – that we are building in South Carolina with our students, staff, faculty, alumni, and partners – is one grounded in great scholarship that makes a difference in society. As a scholarly community, it is our obligation to identify important issues in our communities, to investigate them, and then to make our communities better with what we find.

That is the signature we have at SLIS. I am only the latest steward of a tradition that sees the role of academia to be an engine of optimism and positive change. It is a tradition that sees illiteracy and works to bring the right of reading to all. It is the tradition that sees the importance of faith communities to community knowledge and seeks to ensure those communities get beyond echo chambers of like ideas. It is a tradition that has examined the history of our profession in social movements and seeks to keep that spirit of activism alive. We marry statistics and data science with marches on the capital. We prepare students in a classroom and on the front lines. We use busses, and YouTube, and journal articles to not only hold up a reflection to our society, but to spur action.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or simply enjoy the bright lights in the dark winter day I wish you peace, and rest, and rejuvenation. Take this time to seek out and model the best of our values. You are part of an important movement and we have need of each and every one of you in the New Year.

Announcing a School of Library and Information Science Listening Tour

headphones with cord isolated on white background

Greetings. My name is David Lankes and I am the new director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. The staff, students, and faculty of the school have been busy over the past few months building and refining a growth plan for the school. We’re calling it the “Knowledge School,” and we need your input and help.

The plan covers ideas to improve the professional image of librarians, expand the undergraduate program in information science, and grow the national and international reputation of the school. It seeks to build on a strong foundation, but it requires your input. What are your thoughts on our current programs? What opportunities do you see for greater partnerships? How can we both support the library community, and expand our reach into industry and government all while retaining our core values of helping communities make better decisions? What tools do you need to better connect to the school?

I hope you can make one of the following sessions. Each one will layout our current plans as a starting point for discussion and input to move us forward.

Tuesday, November 8, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library
Hollings Library Program Room

Thursday, November 10, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
South Carolina Library Association Conference
Columbia Marriott, 1200 Hampton St, Columbia
Palmetto Balllroom

Tuesday, November 22, 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Richland Library Main, 1431 Assembly St, Columbia
2nd Floor Theater

If you can’t make the meeting I hope you’ll still share your ideas with me at We are open to all your ideas and suggestions both now and in the future.

If you would like to host a session in your community please let me know.

Light the Night with Mission Remission

Hi! If you are reading this right now it is because folks like you, and thousands more who support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at events like Light the Night. It is through their work and your generous support, that I survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Funding supports research and service that lead to treatments and stem cell transplants. It has transformed what was once a death sentence into cures.

This year my family is once again going to Light the Night to raise funding and awareness of blood cancers. Please join them as they walk Thursday the 27th here in Columbia (at the State House). If you can’t make it to South Carolina there are walks all across the country, or donate to support our team, Mission Remission.

Thanks again for your support and, you know, my life.

Expect More Orlando Workshop on Librarian Advocacy

We had a great turn out for the Expect More workshop on librarian advocacy co-organized with Collaboratory partners EveryLibrary and Tech Logic. Thanks again to all Collaboratory partners for supporting this important work.

Below is a recording of the event, slides, and audio only version.

Orlando Collaboratory Event from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

Slides: Orlando Workshop Slides
Handouts: Orlando PowerMapping Handouts
Audio Only:

Best Practices for Supporting Your Entrepreneurs

Nicolette Warisse Sosulski is a great librarian and a great friend as well. I asked her if it was OK for me to put something about her upcoming free webinar “Libraries and Local Businesses: Best practices for supporting your entrepreneurs.” Here is what she had to say:

image-169x300I am really looking forward to the webinar I am doing for SAGE publishing this Thursday—after 11 years in biz librarianship, I still meet people nervous about business reference—and for good reason. Business patrons are directed, motivated, assertive, and know what they want to find, whether it may exist or not. They are rather like genealogists. Whether it is a product usage statistic or a 17th century ship manifest, their searches tend to be narrow, focused, and—at least to them—high stakes.

In my webinar I concentrate on the tasks of reaching out and demonstrating what libraries and librarians can do for entrepreneur patrons (some of them think we are no use, and it is our task to show them that the contrary is true), as well as clarifying and articulating the respective roles of the librarian and the entrepreneur patron (some think we are their onstaff 24/7 personal–as in just theirs–info consultant for free. Unfortunately not! ), so that we can transform them from skeptics past unrealistic customers to enthusiastic users.

Nicolette Warisse Sosulski, MLIS

Not every library is going to focus on business users, but for those who do, this should be great information. Nicolette is always looking to better serve library members, and in helping us all do so as well.

The webinar is Thursday, March 31, 2016

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Mountain | 1:00 -2:00 p.m. Central | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern