Libraries Lead in the New Normal Listener’s Guide

For those of you who don’t know, I’m part of a regular podcast on libraries and society in and (hopefully) post COVID. It’ a great time with my partners Beth Patin, and Mike Eisenberg. A great graduate assistant at Syracuse, Jeanne Kambara, put together a listeners guide to all the episodes so far. So, first a blurb on the podcast, and then the guide below. Check out the podcast home here:

Libraries Lead the New Normal is a provocative podcast hosted by Beth Patin (Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse U), Dave Lankes (Professor, iSchool, U of Texas), and Mike Eisenberg (Dean/Professor Emeritus, iSchool, U of Washington) &

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.

Libraries Lead in the New Normal Listener’s Guide:

Episode 1: Libraries Lead! Our very first episode!

January 6th insurrection

First episode of the series, covers the January 6th insurrection and ideological divisions.

News deserts, Insurrection, Information Utility, Neutrality, Equity Discourse, Google, Open Access, Credibility

Episode 2: Shots & Systems

Covid and Information Systems

Covid has put information systems to the test, and many places have failed. Getting appointments for a Covid vaccine is confusing and difficult, and the rules and regulations are unclear. How can libraries support.

Crisis Support, Information Systems, Covid, Pandemic


The Pandemics Effect on Education (an Internal Perspective)

In this episode, Mike and Dave invite Colet Bartow, Teaching and Learning Senior Manager, Montana Office of Public Instruction to discuss the short, medium, and long term effects of the pandemic on education.

Pandemic, Indigenous Education, Information Access, Education Equity, Hybrid Education, Traditional Education, Remote Education, Teacher librarian, Storytelling, Digital Ecosystem

Episode 4: Education: Old Normal No More

How has the pandemic affected education, and will it last?

There is a need to help low-wage earners find out about high demand jobs, requirements, and opportunities for getting access to quality training. The education conversation continues, covering topics of home schooling and hybrid/blended schooling. Mike laments about history and Dave advocates for experimentation.

Education Systems, Home Schooling, Pandemic, Hybrid Education, Alternative Education

Episode 5: Library Activism

Library Activism – Librarian Activism

In this episode, Dave and Mike acknowledge the history of library activism across library types and settings in the US, and then discuss new challenges and opportunities particularly in relation to the education role of libraries of all kinds. In doing so, they emphasize that librarians can’t just sit in their buildings—they need to get out into communities to expand access, to set up knowledge systems and infrastructure (including open-access educational resources), and to provide education and training programs (with alternative modes of validating learning (e.g., micro-credentialing, badges, diploma facilitation, etc.).

Advocacy, Ownership, Copyright, Open-Access Education, Library History, User Tyranny, Educational Barriers, University Endowments, Tuition, Educational Distribution, Learning Evaluation

Episode 6: The Post-Pandemic Workplace

The Post-Pandemic Workplace and the library’s role in it.

Has the lockdown been a catalyst for reconsidering location, work-home balance, and the trade-offs of physical vs. virtual work. And, what about the accompanying effects on the environment, transportation (commuting and traffic), health (physical and mental), and social interaction. As the information infrastructure and services providers of communities, are there new, more permanent needs and demands to meet for businesses, workers, parents, and students?  And, what about the library workforce? Will librarians and support staff also work in hybrid formats?

Pandemic, Infrastructure, Information Utility, Library Space, Community Workspaces, Hybrid Work, Work Culture

Episode 7: “Whatever the Need!” Says Angela Craig

The Role of Libraries During Crises and Supporting Communities

In this episode, Mike bring on Angela Craig Executive Director, Charleston County Public Library, to discuss supporting communities through disaster events.

Hurricanes, Digital Divide, Help Services, Disaster management, Hurricane, Covid-19, Vaccine Clinics, Telehealth, Emergency, Community Gardens

Episode 8: Help, I Need Somebody!

Digital Reference, Question and Answer Services, Human Helps vs AI Help

Reference in library has vastly changed over time; patrons are now increasingly coming to libraries with life questions about housing, taxes, etc. Often times, it’s the job of the librarian to teach the patron to ask for something they don’t know they need. In this episode, we dive deeper into the topic of help and information services  of all kinds– human, mediated (telephone, digital), online. What’s going on with consumer help and what’s the status of Q&A, Ask a Librarian, and reference services in library land?

Digital Reference, Information Seeking, Articulating Ignorance, Question Interpretation, Human Value, Privacy, Need Prediction


Is there a new normal in work or are we returning to the old normal?

Are we going back to offices and city living or will a new normal emerge? Judging from the articles and posts, it’s not clear at all. That means it’s likely to be a combination of both depending on contexts of nature of activity (e.g., business), geography, and the economics (jobs, commerce, supply chain). With uncertainty prevailing, what should libraries be thinking about and planning for?

Work Value, Educational value, Socialization, Human Interaction, Remote work, Geographic Pay Wages, Online Learning

Episode 10: Data to the Rescue?

Data to Protect You Oxymoron; The Role of Libraries and Data Collection.

“Data to protect you” is an oxymoron. Data can be dangerous–particularly in the hands of corporations, governments, hackers, scammers, & even well-intentioned non-profits, public service providers, and even libraries and librarians. We understand the well-meaning intentions to help. But do we really want anyone to be able to collect and aggregate all this data about anyone & everyone? This episode features we are joined by Megan Oakleaf, Associate Professor, Syracuse University iSchool.

Data, Information Sharing, Public Safety, Student Success, Productivity, Quantification, Vendors

Episode 11: Emergency! Being Prepared in the New Normal.

Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness: The Role of Libraries and Information Organizations during times of Crisis

Unfortunately, the dire future predictions of crises due to environment and climate change, disease, poverty, and social justice are today’s realities. In this episode, Beth Patin, Assistant Professor at Syracuse University’s Information School (iSchool), joins to discuss her experiences with crisis management.

Community Resilience, Crisis Management, Leadership, Resiliency, Disaster Response, Information Equity, Information Infrastructure, Access, Epistemicide

Episode 12: Truth or Dare: A New Normal in Education and Human Services?

What is the “New Normal” for education and human services as a result of the pandemic.

In this episode we question the reality and nature of an emerging new normal in education on all levels as well as in other human services workplaces such as healthcare, medicine, and libraries.

Mis and Dis-information, Telemedicine, Bias, Access Barriers, E-Government, Politics in the Library, Virtual Burnout

Episode 13: Politics are Us -The Politicization of Everything

The Politization of Everything – Have Things Gotten More Political?

What is the politicization of everything – its nature and scope – and what are the implications? In this episode, Mike, Dave, and Beth discuss partisan division and the apparent politicization of everything. How it has operated historically and how it affects things today.

Politics, Wartime Information, Information D­­­­emonization, Inclusivity, Narrative Manipulation

Episode 14: Info Literacy – Now More Than Ever!

Information Literacy

Information literacy relates to every aspect of human existence – individually or in communities. Almost all human activities and endeavors are information-based, especially in our turbocharged, networked, overloaded info world. In this episode, we explore a range of info literacy issues including information skills, relevance, credibility, mis- and dis-information, bias, technology, media, and equity.

Literacy, Information Literacy, Credibility, Knowledge Systems and Infrastructures,

Mis-information, Bias, Credibility

Episode 15: Life, the Universe and Everything Social Media.

A Broad Overview of Social Media, How it Functions Today, and How Libraries can Utilize it.

This is the first of a series of episodes about the phenomenon of social media. Social media dominates and affects almost all aspect of life and society, sometimes purposefully and often not. In the series, we hope to inform as well as identify some recommended good practices, and to discuss how libraries can and are helping people to engage effectively and safely. Here in episode 15 we will take a broad view of social media highlighting some of the nuts and bolts, the “why” of social media, and to begin to discuss the impact and issues.

Social Media Echo Chamber, Mental Health, Online Discourse, Online Community, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Self-Protection, Discourse Escalation, Virality, Politics

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