Forget the Future: Our Time is Now

“Forget the Future: Our Time is Now” RUSA President’s Program, American Library Association Annual Conference. Chicago, IL.

Slides: Slides in PDF
Speech Text: Read Speaker Script
Abstract: Our communities-our colleges, our towns, our schools, our businesses-need us. As those we serve face growing tensions of nationalism, xenophobia, racism, extremist politics, and social media sites that seems better at building filter bubbles than societies there is a need for a community of professional dedicated to the common good and founded on knowledge. However, our communities don’t need us to gate keep a collection, offer up workshops, or staff a building. They need us adding value to their lives with them in their homes, classrooms, offices, and devices. This talk will explore how reference and user services not only remain relevant, but mobilize to addresses the real challenges of today’s community.

[This is an edited version of the script I used for my talk. However, it is not a word for word transcript.]

Every year the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science have a hooding ceremony for graduating librarians in Rutledge Chapel on the historic Horseshoe of campus.

The chapel is in Rutledge College, the first building built for the South Carolina College – now the University of South Carolina – in 1805. It was built, in part, with slave labor.
Continue reading “Forget the Future: Our Time is Now”

The Social Responsibility of the Library and the Librarian in a Post-Factual World

[Please note that this presentation is only half of the full session. The second half included a discussion with Nicole Cooke of the University of Illinois, Miguel Figueroa of ALA’s Center for the Future, and Scott Walter the University Librarian of DePaul University. Unfortunately I was not set up to record their insightful remarks.]

“The Social Responsibility of the Library and the Librarian in a Post-Factual World” Dominican University School of Information Studies Annual Follett Lecture. Chicago, IL.

Abstract: Introduction to a panel discussion on neutrality and objectivity in librarianship.
Slides: Slides in PDF

The Social Responsibility of the Library and the Librarian in a Post-Factual World from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

A Knowledge Organization in an Age of Alternative Facts

“A Knowledge Organization in an Age of Alternative Facts” Sarasota County Public Library Staff Development Day. Sarasota, FL.

Abstract: Communities need the public library now more than ever. In an era when neighbors are more divided than ever, and even the nature of truth and facts are in question, ho do librarians best serve their community? This presentation makes the argument that our communities do not need more information literacy, a greater emphasis on quality information, or a neutral institution. Rather our communities need trusted partners helping weave together common understandings of events and priorities.

Slides: Slides in PDF


Here’s the actual video of the presentation:

Field Guide Related Links by Chapter

As people are starting to get their hands on the New Librarianship Field Guide I have put up a few items to make it more useful. Check out the Field Guide Related Links by Chapter. It gives you a “tweet able” core concept for each chapter and links to videos and presentations related to the topic. My hope is to keep this as a growing resource, and feel free to send me links and additional resource to add.

I’ve also put up a landing page for the book with quick access to new blog posts and materials around the guide.

Field Guide, Atlas, Expect More? Which When Why?!

[tl;dr version: How does my new book The New Librarianship Field Guide fit into my other books on new librarianship? Librarian or teaching librarians – read the Field Guide. Scholar or librarian looking deeper – The Atlas of new Librarianship is for you. Board member and non-librarians curious about libraries – Expect More.]

While there have been numerous articles and presentations concerning new librarianship, the core of the concept is found in three books:

  • The Atlas of New Librarianship
  • Expect More
  • The New Librarianship Field Guide

The three represent stages of thinking and an evolution of the concepts in librarianship, but each remains relevant and each is targeted toward a specific audience.

The Atlas of New Librarianship

Published in 2011 the Atlas seeks to present a holistic view of librarianship and is focused on answering the question, “what is a librarian?” It dives deep and wide into concepts such as knowledge and facilitation. It seeks to link the what and how of librarianship to a why founded around a mission: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in communities.

Expect More

Published in 2012 Expect More is written for non-librarians about the field and how libraries as institutions are moving from collection-centered to community centered.

The New Librarianship Field Guide

Just released in 2016 the Field Guide is written for front-line librarians and library science students. It is intentionally linear (unlike the Atlas) and accessible by a broad audience. It is loosely modeled as a text book with resources for teaching and discussing the field. It incorporates updated concepts of librarianship from the Atlas and libraries as institutions from Expect More without simply being a digest version of both.

To be clear each represents an evolution of thinking from the previous work. These seek to both promote and document the learning of the field through conversation. As always these works seek to be of value, but don’t seek to be definitive. Any active and vital field will continue to evolve as the world evolves. The goal of any of these books is not to have everyone agree, but to provide a foundation for dialog and healthy argument.

I end with a request to the field. I know that there are aspects of my work and views that people disagree with; that is how it should be in scholarly discourse. From the treatment of knowledge, to the focus on communities, to the political implications of the work there is great room for debate and experimentation. These conversations have and should continue to happen on social media and in conferences. I ask that these conversations be constructive.

Let us all use social media and journals and other forums to debate and argue on the ideas. In the pages of these works you will find an evolution of my thinking that has come from engagement. Librarianship (new, old, or other) is ultimately about society making smarter decisions. I get smarter from engagement with those who disagree often more than a discussion with those who agree. Please share your thoughts in journals, books, and practice. And let us never dismiss useful ideas for failures of the messenger.

Customer, Consumer, Users, and Other Mistakes

“Customer, Consumer, Users, and Other Mistakes” LIANZA Annual Conference 2015. Wellington, New Zealand.

Abstract: Librarians and the libraries they build are turning towards the communities they serve. Librarians have found renewed relevance and purpose in unleashing the knowledge and aspirations of the world’s towns, schools, universities, and businesses. However, this realignment can go too far – to a place where the values and unique contributions of librarianship get lost in a rush to meet every demand and fad. This talk will focus on the new compact libraries and their communities must forge for the benefit of both.



Libraries as Platforms of World Domination

“Libraries as Platforms of World Domination” ILEAD USA. Springfield, IL.

Abstract: Integrating the community into the collection is not a gimmick or a fad. Making community expertise a direct part of what the library offers – what the library is is not only possible, but essential. This session wraps in 9 states to work on the issue. Special thanks to Cheryl Gould for sharing her facilitation methods.
Twitter Stream: PDF


Libraries as Platforms of World Domination from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

Radical’s Guide to New Librarianship Update

Greetings all. There was a great deal of activity around my new book, a librarian-oriented follow-up to the Atlas of New Librarianship, at the beginning of the year. Well, it is 4 months later and there has been a lot of progress. Of course most of that progress is between me and my word processor, so I thought it would be useful to bring folks up to speed.

The first update is that the working title of the book has changed. The Radical’s Guide to New Librarianship is now The New Librarianship Field Guide. Folks made it very clear in my call for input they were looking for a book that was more linear, filled with more actionable examples, and was at it’s core about implementation. So the Field Guide now includes lots of examples, discussion questions, and field observations on implementing and teaching these ideas. To be clear I still talk about librarians as radical positive change agents.

I’m changing the pages on my site to reflect the new working title over the next few days. All the “Radical Conversations” will remain.

The other reason for the change is that Field Guide is being designed for use on the go. Not only will it be a highly portable paperback, but it will be available from the get go as an ebook. So the hope is that you can use it on the front lines with librarians and other library staff.

The big update is that the first really rough draft is now out for comments from the New Librarianship Collaborative (Wendy Newman, Kim Silk, and Lauren Britton). I’m including the current table of contents below and I need your help.

You’ll see that Chapter 19 is titled “FAQs (Frequently Argued Questions).” I’m looking for your questions or the issues that pop up when you are trying to implement the community-centric, community as collection idea. I can’t promise to include them all, but I would like to provide responses to as many as possible. You’ll see a few examples already under that chapter (and a special thanks to Lane Wilkinson for letting me use his blog post to get the ball rolling).

So email me, or use the comments below.

Here’s the current Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1: Librarianship Full Stop
    • The New Language of Librarianship
      • “Radical”
      • “New Librarianship”
      • “Member”
    • Acknowledging the Atlas in the Room
    • Structure of the Guide


  • Chapter 2: They Named the Building After Us
  • Chapter 3: The Mission of Librarians
    • A Very Brief History of Libraries
    • A Two Part Mission
    • Your Mission is Not Unique
    • Stand for Something or Fall for Everything
  • Chapter 4: Knowledge Creation
    • Information is a Lie
    • Knowledge, Knowing, and Pragmatism
    • Recorded Knowledge is a Lie Too
    • So What is Knowledge?
    • 1+1=Climate Change?!
    • I’ll Have the Dialect Theory with a Side of Constructivism Please
      • Conversants
        • Trust Me, I’m a Librarian
      • Language
      • Agreements
      • Memory
    • The Practicalities of Being in the Conversation Business
  • Chapter 5: Facilitation
    • Access
    • Knowledge
    • Environment
    • Motivation
    • All Together Now
  • Chapter 6: Participatory Systems
    • Pressure for participation
      • The Pressure to Converse
      • The Pressure for Change
      • The Pressure for Social Interaction
      • The Pressure of Limited Resource
      • The Pressure at the Boundaries
    • What Should Be
      • Go to the Conversation
      • Focus on Aspirations not Problems
  • Chapter 7: Improve Society
    • Service
    • Learning
    • Openness
    • Intellectual Freedom and Safety
    • Intellectual Honesty
    • So What is a Librarian?
  • Chapter 8: Librarians
    • The Salzburg Curriculum
      • Transformative Social Engagement
      • Technology
      • Asset Management
      • Cultural Skills
      • Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation
      • Management for Participation
        • Advocacy and Librarianship by Wendy Newman
        • Assessment
  • Chapter 9: Pragmatic Utopians


  • Chapter 10: What is a Library
    • A Library is a Funded Mandate
    • Facilitated Space
    • Stewards
  • Chapter 11: Saving Money and the World
    • Collective Buying Agent
    • Economic Stimulus
    • Center of Learning
    • Safety Net
      • An Assured Path to Irrelevance or An Outright Impeachment of Our Basic Principles
    • Steward of Cultural Heritage
    • Third Space
    • Cradle of Democracy
      • Democracy and Transparency
      • Democracy and Access
      • Democracy and Education
      • Democracy and Higher Expectations
    • Symbol of Community Aspirations
  • Chapter 12: A Platform for Knowledge Development
    • A System of Systems
    • From Lending to Sharing
    • What’s Your Passion
    • Components of the Library Platform
      • Access Provision
      • Knowledge Creation
      • Environment
      • Motivation
  • Chapter 13: Fitting Knowledge in a Box
    • Daedalus’ Maze
    • Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, But What About Academic Libraries
  • Chapter 14: Academic Libraries
    • A Library with an Integrated Research and Development Agenda
    • Integrating Students Across the Campus in Library Service
    • The Library Serves as a Hub for New Forms of Instruction
    • Reinventing the Academic Press to be a Publisher of the Community
    • Making the Most Important Decision a Faculty Makes More Informed
    • Academic Library Conclusion
  • Chapter 15: School Libraries
    • iTeams by Sue Kowalski
    • iTeams Take-Aways
  • Chapter 16: Public Libraries
    • Community Reference
    • Public Library Summary
  • Chapter 17: Engines of Advancement

From Mission to Missionary

  • Chapter 18: Battle Plan for the Faithful
    • Continuing Education
      • Expect More World Tour
        • Lack of Staff
        • Fear of Failure
      • ILEAD USA
      • New Librarianship Master Class
    • Key Success Factors
      • Emphasize Teachable Skills
      • Link to Longstanding Concepts
      • Build Cohorts
      • Use Projects and Inquiry When Possible
      • Cross Boundaries
      • Demonstrate Comfort with Ambiguity
      • Build Communities Not Websites
      • Provide Opportunities for Introspection and Inspiration
  • Chapter 19: FAQs (Frequently Argued Questions)
    • Open question #1: What about fiction?
    • Open question #2: What about librarians who don’t work in public services?
    • Open question #3: What about the autodidacts?
    • Open question #4: What about non-institutional libraries?
    • This Approach Doesn’t Work for Small Libraries
    • New Librarianship is Just for Public Libraries
    • Your Turn
  • Chapter 20: Coda