“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
Abstract: With COVID, Insurrection, war in Europe, inflation, an increasing ideological gap, our communities need libraries to do more than be ready to serve, they need a proactive librarianship dedicated to saving communities. Libraries remain the last standing public service that is local, serves the whole community, and is dedicated to the aspirations and knowledge of a community. How do they feed the souls of the nation?