Reinventing Librarianship

“Reinventing Librarianship” Keynote ALA 2011 Virtual Conference.

The session was recorded by ALA and should be available soon (I will update this post).

Excerpts: “This then is your collection and what a truly awesome collection it is: more massive and sprawling than anything in ancient Alexandria. It is composed of seniors have seen their expected lifespan nearly double from 40 to 70 over the past century. Imagine that vast sea of experience and unbridled talent and seeking impact and legacy.

Our collection is in children; realizing that our concept of a childhood was only truly born with the labor laws of the 1800’s and the rise of a middle class that did not depend upon the income of youth.

We see the power in the woman of our community collection. From the right to vote to the majority of college degrees including doctorates in under 100 years.

Our collection is in minorities too long ignored and now actively enriching and expanding a culture of opportunity. Minorities that will soon actually make up the majority of US citizens.

This is your collection this is your business.

And what’s more, this collection doesn’t come with a 28 circulation limit. It isn’t beholden to outdated concepts of intellectual property. And, on the bright side, no one will ever question if this collection is becoming obsolete.”

“At the center of all of this richness and amazing diversity of community lies the facilitating role of librarians. Doing as they have done throughout history: helping communities and members make better decisions, to learn and grow their knowledge. For at the root is learning.”

“The time for introspection is done. The time for trivia is done. The time for looking for the future of libraries in catalogs, and strategic plans is done. The need of our communities is too great, and our promise for improvement too large. Our families worry about jobs and the ability to fight their way into a shrinking middle class. Our education system is broken – students unable to learn, or drowning under crushing debt. Our system of government increasingly polarized, our appetites for energy unsustainable, and the very memory of our society eroding behind walls of commerce and false scarcity. These then are our grand challenges, and just as the physicians before us, if we rise to meet them, we too shall be rewarded.

And I know what you are thinking. I know that tomorrow you’ll be dealing with broken printers, and shelving backlogs, and the rising costs of subscriptions. But you must look up. You must never make what you do replace why you do it. And if you can’t link broken printers and shelving to the grand challenges of our society, then you ought to ask why you are doing them. We must stop reacting to the world around us and start inspiring it!

Now these are just words. If all I do is preach them and return to the ivory tower I have committed the sins of hypocrisy and vanity. But you if you cry hallelujah and wait to seize the opportunity than you have committed an equally great sin. The sin of omission. If you stay silent, or wait for change, or take the easy path or see yourself as less than capable- less than worthy? Then you leave our precious communities to lesser goals and flawed stewards.

We must not let this happen.”



2 Replies to “Reinventing Librarianship”

  1. Now that I have listened to this presentation I am really curious about your thoughts on my “crazy” idea. It seems to me, that if we are community problem solvers, we need more than ever before, to have a handle on our community members. We need to know what they perceive themselves to be experts on, what they perceive their passions to be, what they perceive their needs to be and these perceptions need to be mutable and mappable on a daily basis. If we had this sort of information at our fingertips we could make connections: member to member, member(s) to community and member(s) to non-human resources and that would make us the best facilitators to date. I like the geofencing idea, but I still believe that it would be even better if we could offer an organization of members that is highly accessible at any given moment, highly searchable, flexible and easy to use and open for on-going contributions. Yes, this would be a digital tool, but it would be about the greatest collection we have and it would allow us to view, quantitatively how we make an impact. And if we don’t do something like this, who else will?

Comments are closed.