Thursday, June 9, 2011

Librarians as thought leaders

Learned of an intriguing project, via Twitter?, today, TEDxLibrariansTO (as distinguished from TED, I'm told,") calling for videos to discuss the theme "Librarians as thought leaders."  The key word is inspiration.  So what breathes life into me and how can I breathe life into others?  And what's a thought leader? 

As a model,the site offers Library 101 video by David Lee King and Michael Stephens.  I have to admire these gentleman for putting it out there and availing themselves of rock, punk and rapper styles, rapid-fire imagery and polished production.  They tell us what libraries should have but not necessarily how to get it or incorporate it.  "We're still about books, meeting rooms and story hours," they sing (or something to that effect,) but incorporation of social tools and collaborative spaces are the direction they advocate.  How will this work?  I'm starting at a college where many students I'm told don't have smartphones, let alone laptops.  Getting more computers into library spaces is important, but what kind of machines, and for what use?  For this college, there has to be a larger conversation about technology.  Where do the faculty want to go with it.  How can the library facilitate learning and collaborative spaces such as have been created here and here and here and here and here.  I'm indebted to Bill Mayer for this information.)  All involve creative use of space for technology, "flexible" environments, places for teaching, for students to work together on projects, try out new or unfamiliar software, all connected somehow to the library where they may otherwise be disinclined to venture.

Does scholarship matter any more?  What is scholarship, other than asking appropriate questions to gain insight, and maybe even scholarship practice is evolving.  How to accommodate it and support it? 

Maybe there is no one right way, but many ways, many futures, many skills evolving into many abilities.  Know what I can do, know what I need to learn, know what I want, and reach out and accept help.

Maybe the thought leader intention is for librarians to direct the conversation, articulate values, rather than be subject to decisions of larger institutions, municipalities. Another aspect of adapting to the future?


  1. Garrett, these are all great questions and worthy of consideration. The first thing we need to do however, is get ourselves into the position where we can direct the conversation, rather than where most of us are, which is subject to others decisions. And that is a challenge in itself.

  2. Hey - thanks for the kind words! It's hard to give suggestions on the "how to get it and incorporate it" parts, because those are usually very specific to individual institutions, to policies, and to budgets. That info is much better done through emails and consultations.

    And an fyi - that was Michael Porter, not Michael Stephens, in the Library 101 video. Michael Stephens is a smart, cool guy though - and if I can get him to sing back up in the punk section of our next video, well ... that'd be pretty sweet!

  3. Hi David thanks for writing and for your cool video and correction, sorry to both Michaels. I appreciate your insightful comments and have long enjoyed reading your blog. A colleague showed me this video today, have you seen it?