Jeff Scott's Reviews > The Atlas of New Librarianship

The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes
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May 26, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction, library-research
Read in May, 2011

I have been reading many of Lankes posts and presentations and have really enjoyed them. I am very interested in Lankes voice and his talks and presentations always hold my attention. He seems to be right on the pulse of what libraries should be doing and where they are going.



When I saw that he was publishing a book called The Atlas of New Librarianship, I knew I had to get it. I was pleasantly surprised that the book takes a general approach that would put any library student or anyone interested in a fresh approach to librarianship into the right mindset. I realized that the flow of the book is very general and uses language that is easily digestible (and it is more like 200 pages, not over 1,000)



Communication and conversation are the keys to serving the library community according to Lankes. Knowledge is created through conversation. The book is purposely ambiguous so that all fields are covered, but also puts you into the right head space. I wish that I had this book in library school. I didn’t really learn about strategic planning and collaboration as is discussed in this book until afterward. I didn’t even know of the benefits until I became a director.



This book allows any librarian the ability to think critically and open these conversations with their community, whoever that may represent. This is a book that should be available in all library schools. There should be one class that encourages this kind of community focused conversation and collaboration as I believe that’s the secret to a sustainable future. If we don’t have support from our communities, or viewed as an integral part of them, then we appear to be very dispensable.



Great Passages:



"Don't waste your precious gift of fresh perspective by reading these words or listening to the voices of your faculty and assuming we are right. We are preparing you to be librarians not clones." p.11



"I have long contended that a room full of books is simply a closet but that an empty room with a librarian in it is still a library." p. 16



"The effect of this on the mission of librarians is at least two fold: Librarians must understand that they are only one source among many for a community, and librarians must be at least aware of the view of many sources on topics. This is not new by any means. One could argue that this is exactly how librarians have become seen as honest and credible agents. Not by seeking to be the authority on a source but rather by openly and transparently guiding members through multiple sources seeking consistency. This would indicate that as librarians move forward, they must be willing to move beyond any one class of resources (such as artifacts over experts)." p. 24



Ever wonder why only drug dealers and computer scientists talk of users? Because early models of information systems put the person asking questions outside the bounds of the system. The modern equivalent is the use of the term "customer" or "client". It is a model in which one sets up a system that is used by an actor outside of the system. "Patron" and "member" in contrast, imply that the beneficiaries of library services are part of the service and help to shape it. Remember that the word "patron"comes from "patronage"--to give support. This will loop back to the use of language soon in how the system deals with different language levels (after all, if you are part of a system, the system had better be able to handle your language). p 36



Here is how NOT to stop a rumor: tell people that the rumor is not true. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but brains have a hard tie keeping track of pesky little sdetais, such as the word not. According to Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt,the brain re-creates and then re-stores the information we recall. In the process, it often loses track of the context from which it came. It also tends to remember things it writes down often. So even though you are refuting something, you are also repeating the falsehood, thus strengthening your recall of it. p.42



Identifying needs:

1. Identify key member groups

2. Identify key conversations within and across member groups.

3. Identify regularities in the conversation.

4. Map any existing librarian services

5. Assign a value to the potential benefit librarians can bring to the conversations.

6. Assign a value to the potential value the conversations have to the librarians.

7. Align librarian services to the high-priority conversations (p. 110)



The skills we must retain from public service and integrate throughout all librarian-provided services, are the ability to assess community needs and to be flexible in providing them. We must also take these services and incorporate them into a unified view of the library and take them outside physical walls to the community itself. p 154



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Reading Progress

04/13/2011 page 28
3.0% "My point is that having a mission is important, but if it is not supported by the larger community served, it is useless. There must be a social compact between the community and the librarians. This is ultimately the most important conversation that librarians can have with the community and not just when budgets are on the line."
04/20/2011 page 43
4.0% "Stop thinking in terms of resources. Stop thinking in terms of recorded knowledge. Stop thinking in terms of collections or artifacts, or traditions,or circulation! Think only of knowledge in the community. That is your collection!"
04/21/2011 page 125
12.0% "In too many cases, we create policy to preempt decision making. If we have a policy, then we don't have to make personal decisions, we just implement the policy."
05/09/2011 page 157
15.0% "What you need to realize is that right now librarians exist in a nightmare middle ground between owned and leased collections. It is a nightmare because it is expensive and puts the fate of many library functions at the mercy of external forces such as publishers, vendors, and a fickle public."
05/24/2011 page 177
16.0% "Too often I have talked with library staff who are literally irreplaceable, and yet they don't get the keys to the librarian club. It is reprehensible for a profession about service to create a class system with their services and institutions. To replace a meritocracy...with some sort of librocracy where only accredited librarians count...shows real insecurity."
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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David Lankes Jeff, thanks for the review and comments on the book. Is it OK to share some of this on the Atlas site?


Jeff Scott Absolutely, use what you like.


message 3: by Stacey (new)

Stacey Excellent review, Jeff.


Jeff Scott Thanks Stacey!


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