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18 Jun 2008 / Julie

You are the Future of Libraries, no pressure (or Be the conversation people)

On Wednesday, June 18th, David Lankes spoke at UMCP. “If libraries fail, is (our) fault. no pressure.” Here are some of my notes:

The Question you ask is important.
What is the future of libraries?
What should be the future of libraries?
What should be the future of libraries and librarians?
What should be the future of libraries and librarians in a democracy? (especially in a time of the Patriot Act and habeas corpus. You want to live in a land of freedom? It’s not because of what we shelve, but because we tell the truth.

We need to stop talking about whats going to happen TO us and start talking about what we are GOING TO DO. We need to be proactive, not reactive, in defining our roles. Librarians aren’t done- we’re redefining, reimagining, reworking who we are and what we do.

We spend too much time worrying about process. We need to think about the end goal and let the processes and technology help, not hinder, those goals. What is our fundamental and recognizable contribution? (market this!)

Conversation is exchanging language (meaning and symbols) seeking agreements. [library jargon- how much accommodation do we have for people who don't know our language?]Knowledge is created through conversations. Libraries are the memory holder of the human story/cultural record. Are we capturing these conversations? No! By the time they come to us, they’re inviting us into the conversation but very late in the game, not starting the conversation WITH you! How awesome would it be to be able to say, “conversations around this topic tend to go here…” instead of “here’s a mound of resources with no context for you to look at.” Access isn’t the answer and is insufficient for knowledge creation. Context is just as important, if not more so, than content. Context is lost in things like databases- articles don’t appear within the whole of their journal, and there’s no e-margin writing! We need to capture the context and the conversations, not get in the way of them. We need to worry about their long term storage!

A syllabus is a map of a conversation. Academic libraries- are you saving them?

Libraries are in the “knowing business” and that spans disciplines. Instead of library usage statistics, we should be analyzing the conversations that are happening in our community (inside and outside of our physical and virtual doors).

Public and academic libraries need to partner up to even out the bumps in learning.
public and academic libraries should partner to even out the waves

Don’t create another vision statement, just go out and change the world.
If you chase, you will only ever be 2nd.
Don’t ride the wave, be the wave machine. Function as your community does. Are your librarians your customer’s interface? Know your communities.
Who are you serving? What is their language? Where are there? Are you there?

You have to care. You have to have a voice. Manage up. Lead up. We need to teach people how to be change agents (here’s the admin, here’s how to win them over or overthrow them). Dysfunctional innovation = looking to the young kid who knows about wiki but has no idea about the politics of the organization. There needs to be a communal conversation.

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