Thursday, 25 July 2013

New Librarianship MOOC, Week 3

Week 3 focused on libraries as institutions. It  involved one evening, a lot of videos and half a tub of ice cream (England was still in the grip of a heat wave then. Things have returned to normal now, grey and drizzly).

Section 1 considered the mission of libraries (as distinct from the mission of librarians): expect more than books. Books are tools in a larger mission. The issue has shifted from the old days of a scarcity of available information to a scarcity of attention. A quote from the ever passionate and enthusiastic R. D. Lankes "I don't want any more. I need to make sense of what's here." The same video included talk of the importance of advocacy as a skill in libraries which makes perfect sense but was phrased in a way that I'd never thought of before (libraries advocate for open access, for data portability, for the idea of lack of censorship etc).

It is a really interesting video, well worth a watch:

 The second video covered library mission statements. A good mission statement should be about promoting knowledge and learning, not about promoting the tools and 'stuff' we use to achieve those aims. The mission is an invitation to the community to make them want to be part of the library. I liked the New York Public Library mission statement:

The mission of The New York Public Library is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.

The library I work at does not have a mission statement otherwise I would be critiquing it here!

Section 2 was titled Why Libraries? Why are libraries a good thing for communities? The introductory blurb set this out as "This module covers the primary arguments for supporting libraries. From economic stimulus, to learning center, to promoters of democracy, there are many arguments that can be made for the continued support of libraries of all types."

I hesitate to say it because I'm sure it is a reflection of me, not of the content, but I found the videos a bit waffly.  Maybe it was because it all made such sense that I didn't want it explained in great detail, maybe I don't learn well from watching videos or maybe I'd eaten too much ice cream by that point but I would have preferred it if the videos had been condensed into one and really cut to the chase.

Section 3 considered the library as platform: "Instead of thinking of the library as a service, or collection, it is important to think of it as a platform for community innovation. In some cases it can be a digital platform, in others a physical platform, but in all cases it serves as an enabling infrastructure for the community to learn and improve."

Section 4 was on the Grand Challenges of Librarianship: "What is the larger societal aim for library and information science? Do we simply serve our communities without regard for the larger context of citizenship and the expanding information marketplace?" To me this could be summed up in one line: we seek to build a knowledge infrastructure that helps us all.

Discussion boards here I come!

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