Monday, May 16, 2011

Another take on a familiar theme

I recently read through an article by Aaron Schmidt, The User Experience: Revamping Reference out of Library Journal's May 1, 2011 issue.  It was a fantastic article and I think Mr. Schmidt made some really great points.

His article challenges our profession to really provide the type of approachability we keep saying is important.  It reminded me of a discussion I had while I was obtaining my MLS about how most professionals spend a considerable amount of time interviewing their customer but librarians rarely have this luxury.  The classic example is of the rushed patron coming to the reference desk demanding an answer to a ready reference question we have little time to figure out.  I remember at the time sympathizing with the librarian.  "Oh the poor professional that isn't allowed the ability to adequately service the patron", and to a certain degree I suppose I still feel that way.

But there is another side to that, as Mr. Schmidt points out.  Even though our own practices encourage customer service training and approachability we still seem unapproachable, burying ourselves behind tall desks, "essentially ignoring what's going on..." 

I'm going to play on that statement a bit and say that we have ignored what's been going on.  Case in point; the difficulty we have had in defining ourselves in the new digital world.  How can we as a profession create a new image if we don't see how we fit within another system?  Why are we so afraid to move in a different direction?  What would be wrong with a library not buying desktops and instead outfitting every team member with a tablet?  What would be wrong with walking around the library and actually seeking out our customer (patron, client, whatever) to see if they need help?  And I'm not being sarcastic here, I'm really looking for an answer, what's the down side to doing that?  Guys, we are suppose to be showing people the best information let's work with the technology, not against it!

I could go on and on with the questions but let me stop here and pose a challenge to you.  If you are a librarian, please share a specific example of how you have helped show the changing image of our field.  Or to think of it another way, what have you done that goes against the stereotype of the shushing old lady?

If you aren't a librarian share what you think the new library/librarian is or what the old library/librarian was.  Do you have a librarian friend that has changed your perceptions?  

*As I was writing this I was directed to a post on Seth's blog about the library's inability to do this and the roll that plays for our societies.  You must read it - it's awesome.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blogging Rationale

I struggled with creating a blog.  Why was I going to do it?  What was my goal?  What was my message?  I discovered the reason I struggled with these questions (and a whole lot more) were because I think in multiple layers.  I wasn’t able to single out any one area or topic that I was more interested in than others.  You’ll get to see what I mean by that as you follow these posts.  I can find impact and meaning in more than one area and I finally figured it out - that is what I should focus on.  How do ideas, topics and concepts intersect?  That’s where I found the title of my blog.  Consider this, is an invitation to find perpendiculars in our thinking; to look outside of conventional thought and see another perspective.  To find the second point of view; or maybe even the third and fourth.

So what do I spend most of my time thinking about then?  I mean, how do you know you’ll want to keep reading?  Well let me start with my profession, I’m a librarian.  I say that with pride because librarians are super cool.  There are some that feel our profession is a dying breed but the realities are librarians are more important than ever.  What is changing is our focus.  No longer are we gatekeepers to information.  No, our calling is much more.  Now we must help with determining the essential quality of information.  With so much information available the real task is for librarians to help organize and manage information.  I want to try and help motivate the change in our society to that end.  I will probably spend a lot of time talking about new developments in the library and how that impacts our world.  And believe me it does.  I love technology and since I’m a proponent for open access I’m sure I’ll spend time talking about any and all things open source and social network.  The most important part though is this; I will discuss these topics from an unorthodox way of thinking.  I’m going to ask that you take some leaps of faith with me.  Not to say that I’m right and know all the answers (certainly I don’t), but to maybe ask some really different questions.  I’m going to ask that you dig deep and go way out of your comfort zone.  I‘m hoping to hear some great answers from you.

The reason for that is pretty simple really.  I’m also interested in people and how people think and act.  I know for real change to happen you have to (as the Buddha said), be the change you want to see.  People thrive on predictability and the norm.  What if we could create a new norm?  What would it look like, how would we do it?  I’m not an anarchist.  I get the reason for social rules (every social animal on the planet has them) but is it possible to think about some of them differently?  That will sort of be my quest, my journey.   I hope that you decide to hang out and hope on for the ride with me.     

Until next time, Consider that.