April 08, 2005

What Mission Statement?

A librarian’s professional mission statement would be pretty darn impressive. Sure, Google says they want to “do no evil” but we library professionals are really striving hard to “do only good” while swimming in an increasingly Googlefied information world. Because of this, my professional mission statement is in what seems to be a permanent state of flux. I like it like this, even though I get dizzy on occasion. Like many of the fine folks reading this, most of the flux in mission is due to technological changes and the speculations that can be extrapolated from reading a great deal and talking with smart library and technology professionals.

Along these lines, while doing a bit of my daily professional reading, Panlibus had a post about the super keen new PSP and emerging hacks for the device. I talked about the PSP and Nintendo DS in a blog post last year in the same spirit that Panlibus is today. In reference to hacked PSPs they say:
Taking one speculative step forward, a constituency of young people carrying around high quality screens that are Wi-Fi connected, with browsing, video, audio, e-book capabilities, and storage, will be a fertile community for new innovative ways of delivering services.

Just a couple instantly come to mind. The PSP enabled museum, would be a great place for kids, and adults, to wander around taking in the exhibits with the assistance commentary, explanatory video clips, relevant games. Or how about the PSP enabled Wi-Fi exam revision guide download point in the school library?

Now take this four steps and ten years down the road. Now throw FOLED into the mobile handheld computing mix. Now welcome to my vision of what libraries will be for the next century.

My professional mission statement now involves understanding as much as I can of the sea change we are in the midst of in the library and information science world then using this understanding to ensure the growth and strength of the library as an indispensable community resource, regardless of community size and wealth.

My readings and watching and discussions and thoughts tell me libraries will be drastically different than what they are now. My gut tells me a lot of folks reading this won’t have a job in libraries in 20 years if we aren’t very, very careful, active, thoughtful, creative and hard working. What will libraries do and be in 20 years? They will be all about technology (however small and portable), resource sharing, partnerships, training, and acting as physical spaces to play, learn, share and develop community. Yep, those are all words in my professional mission statement. I hope they are in yours too.

Posted by libraryman at April 8, 2005 01:58 PM

wow. you are always inspiring me to dream about the libraries of the future. but part of me wants to believe that the library as a physical space for books and other old-fashioned information sources will not fade from view quite as fast as we imagine. i know i'm ready to start experimenting with all these new things. i applaud the libraries who have purchased ipods and are allowing patrons to download audiobooks onto mp3 players. but there are not enough libraries doing this. there are budget restraints and technology fears. how are we going to know what to spend our money on? with digital rights management restricting formats, will libraries bankrupt themselves chasing after the lastest technologies? or will we just shut out those patrons who use formats different from the ones we have chosen? i'm so fascinated to see how this will all unfold. i'm definitely optimistic.

Posted by: Donna at April 8, 2005 03:48 PM

I believe aspects of the traditional library as we know it will always be around. Many libraries may very well die though due to weak leadership and ineffective planning and staff. The changes will just be too big for some though. I think we will always have children's print collections and fiction print on hand. Some ready ref too. There will always and should always be some "real" books, regardless of technology. Community space and interaction will increase in importance as will training especially for staff, but for patrons also.

I think DRM is an important issue to stay on top of (Boing Boing is good for this imo) but I also tend to think that issue will resolve itself in large part.

Knowing what trends or tech to follow is sticky. That's why we read blogs and attend conferences, right? (I'll see you at Internet Librarian, right D.?) Technology planning and avoiding "
" is vital

I too applaud the libraries that circ or have ipod listening stations or other such innovative tech. I also think circing lots of ipods at this point is silly for most libraries (some will hate that statement).

Your point on budgets is not lost! We need lobbyist and community involvement now more than ever. Libraries must become stronger centers of community that facilitate learning and access to technology in ways no other part of society can or will.

Posted by: Michael Porter at April 8, 2005 05:08 PM