New Librarianship Comments

New Librarianship Course

I have enjoyed this MOOC on New Librarianship. I wanted to learn what was new in librarianship.  I wanted to experience why MOOCs and online classes were seen as the future of education.  I was curious about online learning because one of the paraprofessionals in my library just completed her Bachelor’s in Business completely online through Georgia Southwestern University.

I found the Discussion Board in the course useful and overwhelming at the same time. So much information, so much intellectual chatter sometimes way over my head.

The course itself has been inspiring. I have a new perspective of myself as a Facilitator of conversation and knowledge not just facilitator of learning or facilitator of information. I have a new perspective of myself as a Power broker empowering “members” or participants in my library community to be creators of knowledge and not just consumers/users.  I have a new perspective of myself as Coordinator matching library members with resources which may include community resources, persons with expertise.

I can see where an empty room with only a librarian and a phone is still a library. The  librarian is a Connector and Coordinator not just the guard at a warehouse with books and computers, even though it feels that way sometimes.  The librarian needs the phone to communicate and connect people to other people and resources outside of the otherwise empty room.

Reading Fiction to Create Knowledge and Improve Society

In this article by Lane Wilkinson, the writer wonders about fiction. If the mission of librarians is to improve society by facilitating the creation of knowledge, how does reading fiction create knowledge in the community? Are people reading to create knowledge or are they reading for fun?

  • Fiction as a Catalyst for Knowledge Creation

Some people create new works from reading fiction.  There is a whole genre of fan fiction where the writers base their stories on other original works. Shane Peacock has created a whole set of Young Adult books, the Boy Sherlock Holmes series, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I remember when Dan Brown wrote the Da Vinci Code, a whole set of books were written piggy backing on the Da Vinci Code, not all the writers of new works were fans of the Da Vinci Code, like this one.  There was a lot of discussion on television andwritings about Mary Magdalene as a result of Dan Brown’s controversial book. Here is sample on this link.

I would say I am creating explicit knowledge when I read fiction and act by documenting –  writing a book review or writing about the books I have read in my blog or even pinning and collating fiction books  I have read on Pinterest.  Am I really creating knowledge when I recommend the books I have read in a conversation with library community members? That sounds like just passing on information but it is creating implicit knowledge or adding to personal knowledge.

  • Knowledge Acquisition/Consumption/Discovery/Creation for Personal Knowledge

According to the Atlas of New Librarianship, constructivism as a theory says knowledge is created inside a person based on interpretation of experiences.  Following that thinking,  reading fiction and non fiction is about creating personal knowledge.

Personally, I think that I read fiction primarily for fun and happily acquire/consume/discover new knowledge  but I am also learning and creating personal knowledge in the process.  I like reading historical fiction because I get so much historical information about a particular period from it and  for me it is far more exciting than reading an actual history book. Reading the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom has led me to read other books based on the same historical period such as The Crown and The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.

I am a fan of the Louise Penny murder mystery series.  I recall searching for Gregorian chants on the internet and listening to Gregorian chants on YouTube because of her latest book in the series, The Beautiful Mystery.  I was curious. I wanted to distinguish what was real and what was from the writer’s imagination. I was adding to my personal knowledge from multiple sources and learning.

Reading fiction does not always lead me to create knowledge to improve society.  It improves me.  It changes what I knew before. There is an internal dialog, learning, improvement in vocabulary but I do not necessarily read with the intention to apply what I learned  or to improve my community.

Core Values of New Librarianship

Yesterday, we looked at how librarians turn community pressure into library services.  Community pressure has led public libraries to create centers with curriculum built around different subgroups with different interests. Three centers were highlighted:

1. Entrepreneurium – libraries provide the computers, the meeting space and the pitch room for incubating new businesses.  Also, to further business interests of members, they meet at the library for field trips to successful businesses.

2. Writing Centers – libraries provide an intimate setting to talk to authors, provide space for writing, using laptops, hanging out with other writers.

3. Music Centers –  libraries provide space for musical performances, for creating podcasts of performances.

Access. Knowledge. Environment. Motivation.  These concepts are repeated in these lessons (book and video); they are the means for facilitating knowledge creation. Sometimes I feel the lessons are fragmented so I am trying to bring the concepts together in my mind.  Here goes:  In New Librarianship, the library is a place for access – bringing the conversants and the resources together, helping participants acquire knowledge (skills,concepts) by participating in the conversation, ensuring a safe, comfortable environment (physical, cultural, emotional, legal), and allowing members to be motivated by following their interests.

Today the video-clip that I watched was about the foundations of new librarianship or the values.  Let us not forget our key sentence about the librarian’s mission. There are two parts to the mission:

1. to improve society

2. though facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

Librarianship we are told is a noble profession founded on ethics, principles and moral standing. What are the 3 core values of librarianship according to the Instructor?

1. Learning – librarians are in the learning business which is different from the teaching business, education business, and the pedagogy business.  I will have to read more on this because I think learning and education are similar.

2. Openness – librarians don’t restrict information.  We value intellectual honesty.

3. Intellectual Freedom and Safety – librarians provide information in a place where members feel comfortable and safe (physically, legally, emotionally).  This is the value that makes librarians unique. This value is also related to two of American Library, Association’s (ALA) core values; Intellectual Freedom and privacy and confidentiality.

Two of the three values, Learning and Openness, are listed among the core values of the Salzburg Curriculum which we will be discussing in this New Librarianship class:

  • Openness and transparency
  • Self-reflection
  • Collaboration
  • Service
  • Empathy and respect
  • Continuous learning/striving for excellence
  • Creativity and imagination (developing new ideas)

Let’s see. So far I have learned that librarians are in the conversation business, the knowledge business, and the learning business. We facilitate knowledge creation and conversation. We are power-brokers empowering communities through all types of literacy.  We are trusted arbiters or mediators and our greatest asset and responsibility is our credibility.  We belong to a noble profession.  We have a point of view and value learning, transparency and intellectual honesty, intellectual freedom and safety.

Week 2: Community

Today the thread or key concept is ‘community’ meaning aggregations of members. This is our key  sentence for the entire course: The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

The first point is that what librarians do, the services provided should be a joint agreement with the community. Community participation exerts pressure on libraries. These are the five sources of pressure that affect what librarians do and how we serve:

  1. Members’ desire to participate in learning.
  2. Members wanting something different but not sure what.
  3. Social nature of members who want to build networks of ideas, agreements, people.
  4. Limitations of resources. When people have limited resources they exert pressure.
  5. Boundary issues: location, institutional

The second key point is that librarians are reliability people and credibility is our greatest asset and responsibility. We consistently point people to multiple reliable sources.

So far I have learned that librarians facilitate knowledge creation and conversations and empower the community. We are reliability people and should be looking at people not in terms of problems but in terms of meeting their needs for service, support, literacy, power.

Day 3 with my MOOC

This sentence is the primary focus of this MOOC on New Librarianship: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities”.  So far the Instructor has opened up a conversation about the “worldview of librarianship” moving from the information age to knowledge society.  We looked at knowledge as dynamic and human and created through conversation. The four parts of a conversation were outlined:

  1. conversants – at least two parties are involved and this includes a person conversing with him or herself.
  2. language we use to converse- oral and non verbal, directional and specialized language
  3. agreements – the reason for the conversation, includes non-agreements
  4. memory – remembering the agreements

Today we looked at the librarian as facilitator which led to the 4 aspects of facilitation:

  1. access – a core value of librarianship – access to library items (artifacts), online access and equity of access but in this class we need to think in terms of access to a member’s conversation and also in terms of a member having access to other members’ conversations
  2. knowledge – so that members can participate in the conversation
  3. environment – place of safety (physical, cultural, emotional, legal)
  4. motivation – incentives that encourage members to engage in conversation

Three other concepts were introduced that I want to absorb and remember.  First, there was the concept of the librarian as a power broker fighting for privacy and intellectual freedom, fighting against filtering and censorship of information, giving power to the community through literacy. Second, the concept of the librarian as community publishers – freelance production assistants.  The third concept is literacy redefined as the ability to recognize patterns and take action.

We have to think of means of facilitation with specific examples.  I can not come up with anything original.  Organizing book club meetings, teaching study skills and critical thinking skills, organizing Meet the Author events and human library events come to mind.  At my library we had a very popular “Literati Lockdown” – an all night pre Halloween event with students writing and performing skits and doing scavenger hunts.

One participant in theMOOC wrote that many internet users are actually performing librarian-related tasks and suggested that pointing this out to them would help the facilitation process.  See more in his article on that topic.