An Invitation to the New Librarianship Symposia

Hi, my name is David Lankes. When I wrote the Atlas of New Librarianship 11 years ago my goal was to start a conversation about librarians, libraries, and their role in helping communities of all sorts make better decisions and help community members find meaning in their lives. Over the past decade that conversation has spread across the globe. It has also grown deeper with passionate new voices adding new perspectives, expertise, and challenges.

Continue reading “An Invitation to the New Librarianship Symposia”

Goodbye University of South Carolina

Today thinking about what the School of Information Science faculty, staff, and students have accomplished over my 5 years as director. A 280% increase on the undergrad program, a new graduate certificate in equity diversity and inclusion, hosting 2 national library research conferences, 6 classroom-to-school library cohorts, 8 new faculty, over a million dollars in external funding, increased enrollments in the MLIS and PhD, revised curriculum for the masters and undergrad programs, a successful accreditation, moving up the rankings, membership in the iSchools, membership in IFLA. All of this and 4 provosts, 2 presidents, 2 deans, a pandemic, and a bone marrow transplant.

That’s a wrap for me.

“Spring” Cleaning the Website

tl;dr version: I’m going to be making updates and cleaning up files on the site. This may lead to broken links in the next few days.

I’ve had a website before we called them blogs – hell, before we called them home pages. I started my site as hand edited HTML files, mostly linking to presentations I had done. When I outgrew HTML files I built my own PHP database site…then I got busy so I moved through different content management systems (TikiWIKI anyone). They got hacked, and I kept trying different flavors, until I found WordPress, and have been pretty much twisting it to my will for the past decade.

Seriously, if you have nothing better to do check out http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/ in the WayBack Machine.

With all those editors (anyone remember iWeb?) came different servers. Until about 8 years ago servers I ran (Sun Servers, Apple Servers) then ones at Syracuse’s iSchool, and finally GoDaddy web hosting.

The point is, this site has been part information dissemination, and equal part Frankenstein’s Monster for experimentation. So now it has come time to do a little cleaning. Moving things from an external site into WordPress to make backups easier, killing unlinked files, and yes, possibly even jettisoning early PowerPoint files on the wonders of FTP exported to HTML from PowerPoint. My goal is to keep as much as possible (particularly early presentations and papers), but I need to get this in hand.

So, if this week you run across a dead link – wait. If next week you run across a dead link, let me know.

New Librarianship Symposia Invitation

I am so happy to announce a symposia series on New Librarianship.

Ten years ago MIT Press published The Atlas of New Librarianship. We are taking the opportunity of its 10th anniversary to explore some of the key issues in librarianship that have evolved and emerged since 2011 in a series of online symposia in October and November 2021. We would like to invite you to be a part.

The symposia series is sponsored by MIT Press, the University of South Carolina, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the British Library, KB National Library of the Netherlands, the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, Gigabit Libraries Network, URFIST de Bordeaux, Enssib, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. We also expect more international organizations to join as sponsors shortly.

Call for Contributions

We seek abstract and creative format proposal submissions for ideas and approaches that can guide the field over the next decade and address the following areas:

  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Post-neutrality librarianship
  • International influences
  • A “new normal” agenda in a COVID-affected world 

Symposia sessions will be streamed live, free of charge, and with efforts made to meet accessibility needs. Detailed descriptions for each topical area are below.

Accepted abstracts will be presented during a symposium and published on the University of South Carolina ScholarOne digital platform. Three abstracts for each symposium will be invited for development into white papers and awarded $2500 stipends. In addition, selected presentations will be developed into commissioned essays to be included in the Atlas of New Librarianship. Submissions from library practitioners and early career faculty are highly encouraged.

Each symposium will focus on concepts that guide library practice and development, rather than focusing on skills or specific functions tied to a given institution. Participants will be encouraged to seek broad concepts and theory that ultimately determine how librarianship is defined in and outside of the context of a library, as well as beyond sectors (public, academic, school, etc.). These symposia seek the ideas that will guide the field over the next decade instead of the latest trends or services.

Abstract submissions should address one of the four following core topics:

Symposium 1: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: The vital need for diversity in librarianship stems from twin beliefs in the inherent value and dignity of all people and in the fact that the best knowledge is derived from the richest variety of sources. How can this be expressed as a core value of librarianship and what are its implications for the institutions librarians build and maintain? How can we address institutional racism, biases, discrimination, and inaccessibility   in library institutions, education, and practice internationally? How might we integrate principles of inclusion and universal design?

Symposium 2: Post-Neutrality Librarianship: Librarians cannot be unbiased neutral information professionals and passionate advocates for better communities. To seek an improved society calls for a vision of what “improved” means. How can librarians reconcile the reality of making service decisions in a context of limited resources with a mandate to serve the whole community?

Symposium 3: International Influences: Concepts of diversity, of service, and of librarianship itself are strongly influenced by local contexts. The idea that the work of librarians looks the same in Kenya, Norway, China, and the United States is founded on the strained concept that universal structures serve all. What in librarianship transcends national boundaries, what varies, and what is the process that connects the two?

Symposium 4: A New Normal Agenda in a COVID-Affected World: The COVID pandemic has put in sharp contrast the role of libraries in communities, and made clear how what was once considered normal, must never be normalized again. Librarians must fight for universal broadband, better workforce development, and expand democratic conversations, to ensure the wellbeing of communities and understand their roles in a crisis. What does the new normal agenda for librarianship look like? 

Paper Abstract Submissions:

Abstracts for papers to be presented during a symposium should discuss, analyze, and critique critical ideas, theories, and concepts addressed within the chosen symposium topic. Submissions will be evaluated on quality of content; theoretical, conceptual, or practical significance; relevance for practice; originality; and clarity. The maximum length for an abstract, including references, is 500 words. Appendices should not be included. No author names should be listed in the abstract submitted for review. 

Creative Format Contribution Proposals:

In addition to the call for paper abstracts, we invite multimedia contributions in visual, audio, audiovisual, or hybrid formats. Contributions should include a sample of work and a contributor statement and engage with critical ideas, theories, and concepts addressed within the chosen symposium topic. Submissions will be evaluated for quality of content; theoretical, conceptual, or practical significance; relevance for practice; and creativity.

Editorial Board Review: Submissions will be refereed by an editorial board assigned to each symposium area. Please see the “About” page for Editorial Board Member information.

Important Dates

  • June 30, 2021: Abstract submissions due by 11:59 PM EST
  • August 1, 2021: Notification of abstract and creative format proposal acceptance; notification of abstracts selected for white paper commissions 
  • October 28, 2021: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Symposium 
  • November 4, 2021: Post-Neutrality Librarianship Symposium 
  • November 11, 2021: International Influences Symposium 
  • November 18, 2021: A New Normal Agenda in a COVID-Affected World Symposium 
  • February 28, 2022: Publication submissions due by 11:59 PM EST (GMT -5)
  • July 2022: Processing of materials, copyediting of submissions, and preparation of introductory materials, including audio introductions of selected content, will be completed and published on the University of South Carolina ScholarOne site.
  • End of 2022 (approximate): Target publication date for The Atlas of New Librarianship,Second Edition

Click here for more information and to submit your abstract: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/newlibrarianshipsymposia/cfp.html

Lankes to join Texas iSchool as Virginia & Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship

I am very pleased to announce that I will be joining The School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin as Full Professor and Virginia & Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship. My appointment starts in August.

Click here for the announcement including the appointment of some great new colleagues: https://www.ischool.utexas.edu/news/texas-ischool-welcomes-new-faculty-members

Here is more information on the Bowdens and the Professorship they created: https://giving.utexas.edu/bridging-the-past-and-the-future/

The following is an email I sent out to the alumni:

Greetings Alumni of the School of Information Science,

I am writing you today to let you know about changes in administration of the school. I will be stepping down as director of the school at the end of July. I have accepted the position of Virginia & Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship in the iSchool at University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Karen Gavigan will be interim director for the 2021-2022 academic year. There will also be a national search for a new director.

There is simply no better choice to shepherd the school through this transition than Dr. Gavigan. She has been an integral part of the school as a faculty member since 2010 and has the support of the staff, faculty, alumni, and administration.

I want to be very clear that the school is in excellent shape. Enrollment in all of our degree programs is up. We have a strong financial position and an amazing faculty devoted to students and excellence. The school’s portfolio in research, diversity initiatives, accreditation status, and international reputation are very strong and show an upward arc.

Let me say that I have loved my time as director. Certainly, there have been challenges, a global pandemic for example, but the school’s community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners has always demonstrated resilience and actually grown through these challenges. One may rightly ask why then am I leaving for Texas?

There are two parts to that answer: the Texas position is my dream job, and the school is ready for a change in leadership. Many don’t know, but the director position is a 5 year appointment, and I have just finished my 5th year at the school. While I am eligible for reappointment, I sincerely feel the school is ready for someone to take the achievements of the past 5 years and push even further.

My job over the past years was to create a strong faculty and shared governance. I was tasked with increasing the reputation of the school, ensuring continued accreditation, and growing the undergraduate program. We have gone up in the national rankings, we received a flawless reaccreditation, and our undergraduate program enrollment has more than doubled. I am not taking credit for these achievements. My job was simply to coordinate the work of our community.

It is time for a new leader to create stronger bonds with alumni and partners while connecting directly with students. I have little doubt that Karen, and her successor will continue the growth of our strong school; growth in numbers, but more importantly in reputation, quality, and impact.

In closing, let me thank you all for your support, your thoughtful challenges, and your excellence. I will always value our time together.

Libraries Lead the New Normal

Libraries Lead the New Normal is a new podcast hosted by Mike Eisenberg (Dean & Professor Emeritus, Information School, University of Washington) & David Lankes (Director & Professor, iSchool, University of South Carolina).

There’s an emerging new normal. 2020 was brutal and has affected all aspects of our lives. As we come out of the pandemic in 2021 and beyond, we must ask, “Are these changes temporary and short-lived or are more fundamental and long-term?” It seems like this is a good time for re-examination and possibly reset of home-life and work-life, education, commerce, social life, politics, and even recreation. We think that this can be a valuable time for life-altering, ground breaking, and transformative change.

Continue reading “Libraries Lead the New Normal”

Lankes Awarded Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award

Portrait, Isadore Gilbert Mudge, dated April 1897 and "circa 1932", Historical Photograph Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Portrait, Isadore Gilbert Mudge, dated April 1897 and “circa 1932”, Historical Photograph Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.

I am humbled to be “selected as the 2021 winner of the Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award, the Reference and User Services Association’s highest honor. In recognition of his 30 years of visionary leadership in reference services; for his national leadership in virtual reference; for his ongoing work in expanding reference services to build stronger communities; and for his excellence as an LIS scholar.” RUSA Website

I have to give great thanks to the selection committee. I am also indebted to the incredible Joe Thompson (who should be the next winner) for nominating me.

I am proud to join a list of awardees with some of my reference heroes on it like Joe Janes, Marie Radford, Cheryl LaGuardia, Nancy Huling, David Tyckoson, Linda C. Smith, Joan C. Durrance, Anne Lipow, and William A. Katz.

Lankes Named Visiting Researcher at French National Library School ENSSIB

I am proud to announce that I have been appointed as a Visiting Researcher to ENSSIB (École Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l’Information et des Bibliothèques), the national library school in France. Previous Visitors include: Marie Martel, professeur et bibliothécaire à l’université de Montréal and Michael Buckland, Professor Emeritus at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Information.

This year I’ll be working virtually with faculty and students to organize some master classes on the topic of post-neutrality librarianship and some other projects. Thanks to ENSSIB director Nathalie Marcerou-Ramel and to Raphaëlle Bats for this amazing opportunity. I can only hope enough folks get vaccinated for me to actually travel to Lyon in the fall.

To prevent confusion, this is in addition to my current position as professor and director of the iSchool at the University of South Carolina.

How Libraries Can Help Us Make a More Perfect Union – The Long Version

On January 22nd Publisher’s Weekly published on OpEd of mine in their Soapbox. It was based on a longer piece I wrote on Facebook. Here is the longer version.

On January 6th insurrectionists invade the Capital in Washington DC to attempt to subvert the will of the American people by attempting to overturn the presidential election. They did so after a morning, and indeed, months of instigation founded on misinformation, false grievance, and a climate that increasingly defines politics as a pursuit of power over the judicious use of power at the behest of the people.

It has taken me several days to begin to make sense of this, to get over my anger, and to affirm for myself a way forward. For me, as an information scientist; as a director of an academic program that prepares librarians and information professionals; as an author and speaker, the way forward is clear: we must rebuild the civic and educational structures that bring communities together.

This is not a shocking conclusion. One could even rightly say it is a self-serving one. After all, as a scholar, educator, and author I am invested in the success of these institutions. However, I am invested because I continue to see their value and positive transformational potential.

I am invested because I have seen when libraries break out of the artificial bounds of collections and neutrality, they become instruments of community cohesion. I have seen libraries host difficult conversations on race. I have seen libraries bring together a people on issues of immigration. I have seen libraries fight for the poor, and the incarcerated, and the all too forgotten in attempts to remove the alien nature of neighbors. From drag queen story hours, to human libraries, to simply providing a collection that captures the value and richness of the human experience, our public libraries must continue to weave together a fragmented social fabric one person, one neighborhood, one nation at a time.

I am invested because I have not only seen for myself, but read study after study on the power school librarians in the education of our youth. I have seen dedicated educators in out school’s largest and most inclusive classrooms, school libraries, make a safe space for the marginalized. I have seen school librarians go beyond the limits of testing to engage children in true inquiry and spark the passion for learning. I have seen school libraries with books and makerspaces, and hydroponic gardens, and talent shows, and whole programs give students status and meaning in an education system all too often focused on outcomes and curricular standards. And I have seen school librarians from the cities and the states again and again and again sound the alarm that literacy in this era must be more than reading and arithmetic but understanding and the ability to interrogate messages and claims in the media, on the net, and in the very conversations we have as a nation. Alas, I have also too often seen these heroes and their programs cut based on the false premise that the only learning that occurs in a school is tied to a textbook.

I am invested because I have seen academic libraries and archivists not simply preserve our cultural heritage, but make it accessible and meaningful to their universities, and the world at large. I have seen stewards of the record of our history, with a degree, or without, force us all to honestly acknowledge a past of racism, bigotry, exclusion, and authoritarianism that does not simply inform our present, but is part of our present mechanisms of systemic racism and political ideologies. I have seen medical librarians ensure that today’s front-line health workers are prepared to face the savage reality of COVID and the savage reality of non-critical thinkers that dismiss science for adherence to political messaging. I have seen academic librarians dedicate themselves to prepare college students of this nation to do actual research, embracing Google and social media, but also the scholarly record, and the foment of investigation.

I am invested because I have seen the power of the information professional, the IT worker, the social media strategist, the data scientist when they are prepared with the ethical skills to complement their technical ones. I have seen the IT manager and the business process analysts ensure that we never see our fellow citizens as simply consumers or dopamine triggered users, but rather as human beings. Human beings that at their core seek safety and certainty and meaning in their lives – and when an unjust society deprives them of means of engaging in the democracy and the economy, they have no choice but to turn to demagogues who mask narcissism in patriotism, and self-interest in twisted visions of greatness.

The future of this nation is not the sole property of a political party. The future of this nation is in the capabilities and education of its citizens. Again and again and again we see that when “enemies” come together in honest and civil conversations – when they are exposed to “the other”- they find commonality. It is too easy to hate through a screen, particularly when the person on the other end may not be a person at all.

My own work seeks to better understand the role of librarians in society. As part of that I have come to the conclusion that there is no neutrality in the work of information. All views are not equal, all visions for the future are not the same nor must they presented in an unbiased or equal fashion. A vision of the future where elections are overturned by the group most willing to tear down social norms and resort to violence is not as valid as a future where righteous protest over inequity are protected. A future where profit drives national narratives and is preferred over community forums of civic engagement is not the right future. A future where libraries and schools are restricted to providing only a prepackaged version of “objective belief,” must be rejected. In its place we must all embrace and prepare for a complex world where human desire for meaning must temper a baser desire for power and exclusion.

I am invested in the success of libraries, and schools, and academia because I believe they are the essential social infrastructure to move us past the dark actions of January 6th. I ask that we all invest in them and ensure our voices are heard and our democracy strengthened. I am not asking us all to magically agree, but to agree that it is through debate and seeking fair and equitable mechanisms (elections, governance, education) that we will be great. And I am asking us all to acknowledge that we are not there yet. I am asking us to invest not in a person or a party, but in our neighbors whatever their color, or whoever they love, or however they identify themselves.

I also acknowledge that I am making this request from a place of privilege and economic stability. I am making this request on lands taken from indigenous people, and I am asking for peaceful revision to a system that all too often used violent means to suppress people of color.

This country was founded with the following words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

These words were a mission, not a statement of fact. It was the starting point…we did not form a perfect Union, we formed a government to seek one out. We, as a nation, a colonizing power, a slave owning nation, an imperfect collection of very fallible human beings, put in writing not some statement of success, but of aspiration. An aspiration that we MUST continue today. WE ARE NOT A PERFECT UNION. We will never be a perfect union because the definition of such a thing will change with the advent of new understandings of physics that can enlighten or build bombs; with new medical capabilities that both save lives and bankrupt those unable to pay for them; with new understandings of sexuality and gender that can both liberate and evoke fearful condemnation; and, yes, with new technology that can connect mankind and allow the worst of our human nature to seek out its peers.

I am invested in seeking out a more perfect union, and believe such a pursuit begins with equitable education, information, and conversation.