Man, it seems ìonce a librarian, always a librarianî. The other day I heard a man explaining how it was ìbloody brilliantî what Joseph in the OT went through. We could easily see as his time in prison and such as a time of ëbondageí, when really it was a time of training and equipping for when he would be second in command over an enormous political power: he learned to move in, work in, communicate with government channels. I used to work at a library – at the time, I thought it was simply because I love libraries (and because itís the first/only place that offered me a job with my non-descript/useless degree), but now I wonder if it was something more.
Iím not working in a library now: my only contact with them is to put books/movies/books-on-tape on hold, and to frequent storytimes when itís not too close to nap- or lunch-times. But I do stay connected with the library world online through weblogs. You know whatís really interesting? Much of what I hear talked about on Quaker/Emerging/Christian blogs is the same stuff thatís on library blogs:
- Where are the patrons?
- Why is funding being cut?
- What should be done with less funding?
- Where are the young adults?
- Why are libraries seemingly irrelevant to society nowadays?
Just as the internet is entering ìWeb 2.0” (or at least a few mouthy bloggers are pushing that on folks – pointing out the shift to more social-networking type of sites), libraries are entering Library 2.0, and many donít know how to make heads or heels out of it. But a few cutting edge folks are working at being in tune with the needs of their community as well as providing gentle examples for librarians so these changes donít push them over the edge (or at least too far over the edge). Hereís some highlights from a great and relevant interview with Michael Casey, who coined the phrase Library 2.0, posted on ALA TechSource.
[One librarian says:]
If I sound frustrated, I guess I’m a bit of a Veruca Salt about what I want to do in my daily work. As much as I love learning about Library and Web 2.0 and finding ways to make technology work for patrons and colleagues, I’m not sure that many (most) libraries are ready to take even the baby steps suggested by Michael. I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’m mistaken (and I hope that I am).
Hmmm: how many times have I heard folks say, ìI feel like I need to be ministering more, and I hear about this emerging conversation, but itís so overwhelming that I have no clue where to start. It seems so far away from my church: how can we participate?î
Well, I agree when John says ìif weíre arguing over semantics, weíve been derailed.” I hope we can see L2 as a path toward change, toward improvement of services. If we try to overdefine it, weíll never get out of the gate. In some ways, yes, I do think we are our own worst enemies. We get stuck in ruts, providing the same services to the same groups of people, without looking beyond our world to the masses that do yet not use our services. I often speak of reaching for that “Long Tail,” the concept of trying to drive toward the large numbers that don’t even think of the library as a resource to be used. If we cannot break out of that mold, that way of thinking, then we will never progress.
How many folks try to define whatís going on? And how many of us get stuck there – instead of doing, weíre blabbering. Instead of ministering to all, we focus on ministering inside of our walls. Instead of following the Spirit, weíre trying to control. Hmmm . . .
I know L2 will not just be about books or libraries as boxes of books, but about a wide range of services and access points, dependent on the community of users the library supports.
You mean the library/church is there for the people, not the other way around? ðŸ™‚
What was a bit disquieting about the OCLC study were the negative associations that younger people make with library staffóthis is an area where, I hope, our efforts to reach out to teens and younger adults will really pay off. Embracing the change needed to go after this group should pay dividends.
Speaks for itself.
I hate to sound like a broken record but Iím going to suggest taking this question to your community. Talk to your users, look at your community, go out to those people who do not use your library, and ask them why theyíre not using such a great and free resource. Are there barriers to bringing those people into the library? If so, how can they be torn down?
Look at your servicesóare you allocating valuable resources in inefficient ways? Library 2.0 is more than integrating new technologies into your libraryóalthough that is a wonderful part of L2. Itís about taking the time to examine all youíre doing and finding out what we can do to welcome an entirely new group of users into our wonderful libraries.
Itís true: libraries do tend to focus on bringing people into them – not very missional. But thatís somewhat the nature: itís not easy to haul around books and such. BUT they ARE missional in different ways: reaching out online to resources available on the web, having reference chat programs so that you can IM a question to a reference librarian from home, working in communities to provide special reading programs. And the bookmobile: good Lord, I donít think you get much more missional than that!
Iím really looking forward to seeing how this shapes libraries and how we might borrow/steal from them: after all, theyíre all about lending, arenít they?