July 18, 2012
Expecting More: From the Library Profession to the Communities Libraries Serve
I think the professional education I acquired from the long-closed Graduate Library School at The University of Chicago has served me fairly well over the past 30-plus years but it never hurts to read learn more about it. Several month ago I heard about R. David Lankes' The Atlas of New Librarianship (MIT Press, 2011) because it was awarded 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. The ALA press release intrigued me:
In his book, Lankes articulates a new purpose for librarianship: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” He envisions a profession based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning which are created through conversations. The innovatively structured text, graphics and accompanying website are designed to stimulate further conversation about the field of librarianship.
The Award Committee praised the book for its unique visual map of ideas and their relationships to theory and practice. One committee member declared, “It made me think critically about our profession and our future…. I was taken out of my comfort zone and that was a good thing.” Other members praised the Atlas as “challenging,” “complex,” and “exciting both in its ideas and its design.”
Describing the book as “rich in optimism,” Kathryn Deiss, ACRL content strategist, said that "The Atlas of New Librarianship" creates "a platform for vital conversations about the future of librarianship.” The book’s unusual format presents more than 140 Agreements (statements on aspects of librarianship) and visually represents the threads that connect key ideas.
Did I run out to buy a copy (read click on the Amazon link)? No, but I should have because Lankes, professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse, has just published a new book. Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today's Complex World (CreateSpace, June 12, 2012)(companion website) (hat tip to Greg Lambert's tweet). If The Atlas of New Librarianship is viewed as a call for re-purposing librarianship, because "touch[ing] on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action," Expect More can be viewed as a call for library patrons and their sponsoring agencies to demand that the profession do so.
From the blurb:
Libraries have existed for millennia, but today many question their necessity. In an ever more digital and connected world, do we still need places of books in our towns, colleges, or schools? If libraries aren't about books, what are they about?
In Expect More, David Lankes, winner of the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature, walks you through what to expect out of your library. Lankes argues that, to thrive, communities need libraries that go beyond bricks and mortar, and beyond books and literature. We need to expect more out of our libraries. They should be places of learning and advocates for our communities in terms of privacy, intellectual property, and economic development.
Expect More is a rallying call to communities to raise the bar, and their expectations, for great libraries.
I think I better start with The Atlas for New Librarianship but these days I prefer reading eBooks and one appears not to be available! What's up with that? Curiously, there is a companion app for the book but no eBook. [JH]