Monday, August 03, 2015

Future of Libraries Summit #fol15

Friday July 31 was spent in Wellington for the Future of Libraries summit.  There are several blogs already about this event and a Storify is embedded below (thanks to @sarahlibrarina).

I was excited to attend the event, enjoyed the day and came away invigorated and a bit frustrated too.  It was a beginning though and I look forward to seeing some consolidated actions come from it.

The first agenda item was to look at the key drivers for the profession.  This is something I'd been thinking quite deeply about as it was the focus for my presentation to the panel for my application to be awarded ALIANZA.

In my opinion the two main key drivers are access and openess - and most other drivers fall out of these.

Such as:
  • Preservation & curation
  • Information & creativity
  • Learning
  • Community spaces
  • People (staff and customers)
  • Literate, knowledgeable and connected citizens

I also like Lankes assertion “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” but this statement needs major unpacking to illustrate it's comprehensive coverage.  (There is a whole book that does this)!

The next agenda item 
What would a flourishing library sector look like in 2025 if we address these key drivers?

I think the library sector is already doing pretty good if not flourishing already.  But we do need to keep agile, true to our professional values and constantly looking for ways to advocate our relevance to our funders.  There is plenty of research out there that can help us with the latter.

If access is a key driver then our profession needs to seek ways to increase access.  One way to do this is to look at making library access ubiquitous and the "norm".  Could we do this though a lifelong library pathway? There are libraries for every age of life but they aren't obviously contiguous.
Perhaps we should be seeking collaborative arrangements with groups such as Plunket to give newborns and their families a library card and introduction to programmes especially for that young group.  Join our mobile library services with Plunket clinics (and a coffee cart)!  How then to link to school libraries --> tertiary libraries -->coporate libraries?  I wonder if the library as a platform is the answer to this?  One library card for all of the nation's public libraries?  How would this address gaps such as people in rural areas, marginalised groups?  I don't have the answers but I think these are conversations we need to be having.

In order to keep flourishing I do think our voice as a profession needs to be louder and our advocacy around the key driver of openess more visible.  

This kind of change starts with me.  I need to learn how to be a better advocate for the profession in the places I have influence over.  This includes my friends and family.  The message I'm giving them when talking about things the profession is concerned about - such as copyright, the TPPA, open access - needs to be clearer and I need to be less reticent.  This is the challenge for myself... to have my "elevator speeches" sorted so I'm an effective advocate. The hard work done on Brand Libraries could assist myself and others with this. 

We are a trusted profession but not one that necessarily attracts a representative diversity we need right now.  Our faces and our profession needs to be on the back of buses as a "go to" vocational option for school leavers.  How can we invite more tangata whenua into librarianship - do we need to be visiting marae around the country with a roadshow?   Although I'm a believer in the value of library qualifications, there is room for diversity in our workforce so lets be open minded and welcoming.  

To me, flourishing libraries are key to strengthening communities - whatever that community is.  

I came away from the summit wanting to see bold statements of a shared vision with backbone.  That didn't happen as such but some provocations were made and I'm keen to see a consolidated report of the event which I hope will include some next steps.

In the meantime... advocacy.  Working on that.

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