Radical Conversations on New Librarianship

There are several new topics the Radical’s Guide: notably libraries as institutions, the role of collections, and a deeper understanding of community. We are seeking input from the library community on these topics. To facilitate this input, we’ve set up a series of online and in-person conversations. Each question consists of a brief introduction, a pre-recorded conversation on the topic, and mechanisms for community input.

Defining a Library
Dates: December 8-12, 2014
Question: the Atlas was all about defining a librarian, not libraries. While there are certainly a lot of definitive statements on what a library is, do these hold up when you change the definition of a librarian? Also, many of these focus on collections, not communities. How do you define a library in a truly participatory way.
Why It Matters: Understanding the underlying definition of library builds communities and can guide librarians and their communities in developing services, policies, and support models. There are a near infinite set of services a library could offer, but which ones make sense and how do we chose? Are there tools and similarities across library types that still make sense.

The Role of Fiction and Storytelling in Knowledge Development
Dates: December 15-19, 2014
Question: There is an almost throw-away paragraph in the Atlas about how people learn from fiction as much if not more from text books and articles. This idea clearly needs to be strengthened. There was also a great discussion int he MOOC about how the stories we tell (the variety) show us possibilities as we develop. For example, some women in the developing world are told a very narrow type of story to reinforce their traditional roles in society. By telling more and different stories communities are empowered to dream bigger and see a broader range of possibilities in their future.
Why It Matters: Are we doing story hour right? Do we need to change readers advisory, or at least understand it as a form of advocacy? How can we incorporate oral cultures into the library and librarianship?

The Value of the Collection
Dates: January 5-9, 2015
Question: Books, databases, and so on are artifacts from a knowledge creation process. As such, while important, are of secondary importance to true knowledge in our communities. That said, centuries have shown the power of collections to knowledge advancement. This question was not explored deeply in the Atlas because the focus of that work was about people, not institutions. We must challenge the belief that simply buying a book (resource) means you are providing good service to a community.
Why It Matters: How do we evaluate collection strength and the utility of the collection as tools for knowledge development? Is there a way of increasing the value of a collection by making it better reflect the conversations and expertise of the community?

Definition of Communities
Dates: TBA
WhereComing Soon
Question: The Atlas is a little light in terms of a working definition of communities. Right now it is based on some known commonality (where I live, where I work, the topic I care about). We need a deeper understanding. Of particular interest is the University of Maryland’s Brian Butler on defining communities by a resource they must share, and often ration.
Why It Matters: It is too easy a statement that librarians must serve a community, when we know that any community is made up of a variety of needs, and requirements. How do you balance community needs and mediate community disputes.

Community Gathering at ALA MidWinter
Date: 10:30-11:30, Monday February 2, 2015
Where: SEE NOTES https://davidlankes.org/?page_id=7048
Question: New Librarianship is librarianship recast through a focus on communities and knowledge over collections and buildings. It is about the “why” of libraries and librarianship over the “how.” This session seeks to extend the conversations of New Librarianship started in the Atlas of New Librarianship to include libraries, collections, and communities. Come and contribute to the conversation, and the forthcoming MIT Press book The Radical’s Guide to New Librarianship.

New Librarianship Home
cover-tm.jpg Cover Image: Expect More Atlas Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.07.33 PM
The Atlas of New Librarianship Expect More New Librarianship Master Class Radical’s Guide to New Librarianship

4 responses on “Radical Conversations on New Librarianship

  1. Sylvia Hetzel

    Dear Prof. Lankes. I’m Library Operations Specialist at Syracuse University’s study abroad center in Florence, Italy. I’ll be starting the MLIS program in July 2015 and, in the meantime, look forward to reading both your books on new librarianship. You’ve got my attention!
    All the best and Happy Holidays!

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