Your side of the boat is sinking

Reading the posts of conference bloggers is like looking into a window – you can see what’s going on, sometimes you can hear the loudest voices, but you’re left salivating for the scrumptious dinner on the table, which is definitely out of reach for the window peeper. That’s what’s happening to me as I read the blogs of those lucky enough to be at ALA.

Thank you Jennie Levine for this post from “Who Controls the Future of Search?” with Stephen Abram and Joe Janes, narrated by Roy Tennant. Roy asks: “What is your worst nightmare and your finest vision for the future of library search services, and what is your level of confidence in achieving either?” Stephen’s response is that his worst nightmare is that everyone in the field keeps looking at the other and saying “your side of the boat is sinking.” He says we’re perceiving millennials wrong, we’re fighting internally (school libraries aren’t teaching the kids properly) instead of banding together to fight the external problems (like politicans who cut funding) and we have to get better at advocacy and be willing to say cutting library funding is stupid.

Wow, I love the analogy of the sinking boat. His words echo what our State Librarian Suzanne Miller said the first time I heard her speak when she came to Minnesota. She said that we librarians need to speak with a united voice. She chastised us for being splintered and fragmented and not presenting a clear message.

I see too many libraries competing instead of complimenting the services of other libraries in the same community, who are serving the same citizens (especially kids), being financed by the same tax payers. It makes me irate as a taxpayer, saddened as a library professional to see libraries and schools or counties and cities engaged in bitter battle over who provides service or funding. I wish that every single community had a common library advisory group that met regularly to advise and support all the libraries in that community. A library group that worked to find efficiencies, economies of scale, and ways to streamline services to provide for a well-informed community of life-long learners.

Who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters? Or . . . .who does the library, information source for communities, call when they need assistance? The (paraphrased) mission of our regional library is to “. . . foster a seamless network of library services, promote cooperation among members, . . . and to foster collaboration and communication among the members.” As I review my calendar of regional activities for the last couple of weeks, I see an illustration of the mission statement in action and the value of our regional library system. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing with libraries in the region:

  • Jennah, the media specialist at Goodhue School, asked for advice for her summer project, remodeling and re-arranging the media center. We introduced her to a seasoned media specialist from another region, who is well-experienced to offer consulting advice. Additionally we coordinated the collection of advice from other libraries in our region about moving shelves and installing new carpeting.
  • In Northfield, Lynne, the public library director, and I met with the staff at the Northfield History Center and invited them to become a regional library member, thereby facilitating collaborative ventures with their local counterparts as well as other historical archives in the region.
  • At Albert Lea Public Library, Peggy and Sarah discussed and demonstrated their use of reading program and blogging software and other library programs. I will be able to relate what I learned from their experiences to other libraries with similar needs.
  • The Minnesota Digital Library Annual Meeting was informative and inspiring as we are considering implementation of a project to assist libraries and history archives to digitize historical newspapers and documents.
  • At the brand new Rochester branch of Minnesota Business College I met with Rachel and Lee. They are eager to join the regional library to network with other libraries in the area and participate in training. We also discussed options for them to participate in delivery service for resource sharing.
  • Erin from the University of Minnesota Experiment in Rural Cooperation called and invited me to meet with her. They have a collection of books they have gathered to support their project and would like us to facilitate their sharing the books with libraries in the region.
  • At Spring Grove Public Library I assisted the library director, Millie, with problems she was having with her brand new blog. Then I got to help senior citizens attending a Senior Techie class, part of an LSTA funded regional training project.

Wow! It’s been a busy couple weeks full of very rewarding visits with libraries. But really, this is what regional libraries do all the time – just another day at the office ;^)

In the mosh pit of The Generous Web

Web 2.0 is reality because humanity does not want to be alone, and ideas and thoughts are meant to be shared. There may be no new ideas under the sun, but when we share our ideas we find a new level of understanding and new paths of interaction. I believe that I am at my best productivity level when I spend myself sharing time and thoughts with others who are thinking and working on similar efforts. Sometimes those others don’t even have to be thinking about the same subjects, but pursuing parallel courses in the universe of knowledge.

I read 2 posts this evening about this subject:

Kathy Sierra in Creating Passionate Users talks about “knowledge sharers” and “knowledge hoarders.” She talks about the synthesizing of ideas derived on the work of others and the resulting creative leaps of innovation. There is a great chart comparing linear movement on “progress on the ‘shoulders of giants’” to distributed knowledge producing innovation through the “wisdom of crowds” and “progress in the ‘Mosh Pit’”

I then followed Kathy’s link to Bill Kinnon’s Achieving Ends. He talks about “The Generous Web” and a “sea of people generously sharing.” He references the term “A-list bloggers” and says that he has found them “open and accessible . . . which is partly why they are as successful as they are.” He quotes David Freeman’s difference between Arrogance and Pride – “Arrogance is ‘I’m valuable, you’re nothing.’ Pride, or dignity is ‘I’m valuable, you’re valuable.'”

When I entered the biblioblogosphere it was scary. I wrote and wrote, just as I have for most of my life, first of all in a pink mini-keyed diary and later in spiral-bound journals. I started blogging (very privately) after my return from Internet Librarian in 2003. But, I guarded my URL and even put the (perhaps ineffective) meta tag in the header: meta content=”NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW” name=”ROBOTS”.

I blogged for over 2 years before I made my big ta-da into the blogosophere. Well it wasn’t long before I was carrying on exciting electronic conversations with librarians and information professionals from the A, B, and C list of bloggers. I now regularly share ideas with people I previously idoled from afar on stages at conferences or in columns in professional journals. I’m honored when others ask me questions and I’m enlighted when they answer mine. As Kathy says “Issac Newton said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.’ That was just fine in a world where knowledge doubled in half-centuries, not mere months. To make progress today, it’s more like, ‘If I have seen further, it is by being thrown up by the mosh pit of my peers.’ And we all get a turn.”