Approaching the library member

I have finally completed my first MOOC.  I am glad I participated and stayed to the end.

This final section had to do with one of Dave’s Soapbox topics, killing the concept of the library user as a consumer of information. This is because the” library user”  modifying (adding apps), manipulating, controlling the system is building a telecommunication environment.  R. David Lankes prefers “members” but also includes other terms: Participant, Creator, Prosumer.

We were introduced to Herb Simon’s concept of satisficing – members being satisfied with “good enough” when searching for information sources. This led to another of Dave’s Soapbox topics, that we should stop using the deficit model,treating the community’s deficits as problems in need of remediation – homelessness, poverty, low literacy- and should approach members by catering to their aspirations and motivating them to take action.  Community members are tired of being treated as inadequate and of being reminded of their limitations.

Grand Challenge of Librarianship

Today is the start of Week 4 and the focus is on issues within the community and how the librarians engage with the community.  However, I am reading the discussion on the grand challenge of librarianship first because I don’t think I have grasped the concept.

The Instructor, in a video-clip I watched last week, said this is it: The grand challenge is coordinating the knowledge infrastructure (technology, people, sources of information/knowledge, permissions – intellectual property) to unlock the potential and passions of society.  In discussing the infrastructure there were other challenges. These are the ones that I can recall:

  1. How to balance the goal of profit with the goal of information.
  2. How to move from information consumption/production to participation or How to turn people from passive information consumers to active builders of the knowledge economy.
  3. How to coordinate the infrastructure to eliminate the digital divide of haves and have-nots.

Here is one librarian’s view of the grand challenge. The librarian/blogger asked in March 2013, How would we create a library that had the ability to change or grow remotely? I thought the grand challenge of librarianship, the rallying call would be something to do with change or innovation.

Jian on the discussion board came up with a grand challenge template which looks like this:  “A grand challenge [for libraries] is a fundamental problem in the information [knowledge] society with broad applications, whose solution would be enabled by the application of […] that could become available in the near future.”

Another “conversant” wrote her grand challenge for her school community: How  to get more of our students to be proactive [on] their own learning. I can identify with this challenge but is that grand enough?

Daveheart: The Soapbox

@Librarian_Kate tweeted this under the #newlib hashtag: “Also, we need to start a PREACH IT FATHER DAVID hashtag for the stuff in this course we really like.

R. David Lankes tweeted a response : “I once had a class create a twitter back channel using Daveheart after my habit of getting on a soap box.”

For me, this is R. David Lankes’ soapbox:

  1. Librarians should articulate a new worldview of librarianship that goes beyond tools (otherwise called artifacts, products of learning, also known as books, ebooks, DVDs and so on) and founded on theories such as conversation theory, motivation theory, sensemaking and postmodernism.
  2. In the knowledge model, a foundation of librarianship, there are conversants, language, agreements and memory ( a means to capture, preserve and retrieve community agreements).
  3. Library users/patrons should be called members of our community. Members of the community should not be seen as problems but as people in need of power to  improve their lives.
  4. No matter what community librarians lead and/or serve, the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.
  5. To be a librarian is powerful. An empty room with a librarian is still a library.
  6. Librarians are power brokers, advocates of libraries, radical change agents, activists, leaders, trusted mediators, motivators, innovators, facilitators of conversation and therefore facilitators of knowledge and learning.
  7. Librarians must go to the conversation – go to the places in the community where members frequent such as Facebook,  their workplaces, schools, places of worship.
  8. Reading is a conversation that one has with oneself.
  9. Access is a core librarian value and a means of facilitating knowledge. Access means more than equity of access and access to artifacts; it is about connecting members of the community to experts in the community and being a part of the conversation. The Librarian is an information source in the conversation and the community is part of the library collection.
  10. Librarians provide knowledge services and training ( information literacy curriculum in school libraries).
  11. Librarians provide safe comfortable physical and virtual library environments as means of facilitating knowledge.
  12. There is no scarcity of information any longer, there is scarcity of attention.

This one does not fall under Dave’s soapbox but I found it a valuable tip:

“Take a good idea and apply it everywhere you can”.  I think this tip is a #PreachItFatherDavid moment. The Example given was the Big 6 Information Literacy Skills created by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz.  They now have The Super 3 and Little 12  and applied it by creating bookmarks, cards, videos and workshops.

New Librarians’ Values and Skills

I am repeating this mission statement because I constantly want to be reminded that in this MOOC on New Librarianship, the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

I watched two video-clips today and intend to do some reading later from the text. One video-clip focused on the part of the mission that says improve society. This was tied into two additional values of librarianship: innovation for positive change and leadership. One of the many key points I absorbed today was that librarians ought to be constantly learning, changing and improving our community.

Also, today I have learned that librarians are radical (read activist, “on the edge”, “hip”), positive change agents. We are in the conversation business, the knowledge business, and the learning business. We facilitate knowledge creation through conversation.  How do we facilitate?  That’s the complex part.  By getting the conversants and the resources together – access, through a curriculum/learning center – knowledge, in a safe, comfortable environment, and through motivation. 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. We have an obligation to lead and evangelize our profession.

Interesting that the Instructor used the word evangelize.  This librarian/blogger who studied theology said she wrote a paper titled, “The Ministry of Librarianship”.

The second video-clip was about the 5 skills of new librarians:

1. Public service – outreach to the community

2. Administration

3. Information organization

4. Information seeking

5. Collection Development

There has been a lot of conversation of the discussion boards on power and the fact that the Instructor said librarians  value intellectual honesty but are not unbiased.  Here is an interesting link on intellectual honesty. One sign of intellectual honesty is questioning our own assumptions and biases. Another is demonstrating consistency (no double standards) and commitment to critical thinking.

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.

MOOC Course Outline: First Two Weeks

This first week of the MOOC on New Librarianship is almost over. I have listened to and followed the conversation on the mission of librarians (not the library), the worldview of new librarianship, knowledge creation, how librarians facilitate knowledge creation through access, training, environment, and motivation.

Next week the lessons will cover community pressure on librarians, the values, core skills and competencies of librarians. We will deal with the competencies for librarians as set by the Salzburg Global Seminar on “Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture”. This is the curricular framework:  the mission of librarians and museum professionals is to foster conversations that improve society through knowledge exchange and social action.

Knowledge exchange not knowledge creation as in the new librarianship focus sentence: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities”.

Social action in terms of activism and advocacy skills seem to be important.The instructor of this MOOC is also one of the advisors of the Salzburg Curriculum and is described as a passionate advocate for libraries and their role in society.

I am getting ahead of myself here but I notice that the core values of the Salzburg Curriculum are different from the American Library Association’s core values for librarians. These are core values of the Salzburg Curriculum:

  • Openness and transparency
  • Self-reflection
  • Collaboration
  • Service
  • Empathy and respect
  • Continuous learning/striving for excellence
  • Creativity and imagination

The two sets of values only have service in common.

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.