I'm blogging the SC Library Association's 2007 Annual Conference. The theme this year is Library 2.0: Taking South Carolina's Libraries to the People. 6th Recipient of the Diversity in Librarianship Scholarship is Annie Young Patrick. Two-time ALA Spectrum Scholar. Currently enrolled at USC's SLIS. In her statement, she said that if not for her hometown librarian and his guidance, she would still be back in her hometown.
David Goble, State Librarian, recorded an introduction to the speaker, as he couldn't be here. Keeping in spirit with the theme, the introduction has been posted to YouTube.
Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director (he's a Red Sox fan!) is the opening keynote speaker. Yes, he's a librarian, altho if you ask him, he'll say no, he's a chippendale, and ALA needed someone who looked good in a suit. Plug for ALA membership: for .30 a day, you can be his boss. Was the state librarian in MA for 10 years.
Six great challenges:
1. Can we really do anything about library funding? Fiels says we can, through (a) advocacy: libraries and citizens working together to achieve goals. New advocacy office has been established at ALA to help local advocates to meet local advocacy goals, by providing resources and support. Advocacy Institutes before each confeence to reach out to trustees, friends, etc., with a focus on practical courses, training, and so on. ALA's I Love Libraries website. (b) Tracking funding. We need to get a much better sense about what is really happening in a timely manner, rather than 2 years out. Workig iwth Gates Foundation, with a grant. (c) We need to make plans, and have those plans in place. Your vision will drive funding growth. (d) Assert our role in education, go head to head with educators and politicians. Libraries are the other half of the educational system. (e) Studies show that children in schools with libraries do a grade level better than those without. Also the impact of public and academic libraries. We need to get the work out.
2. What can we do to improve library services? Continue to attract the best and brightest to library schools. One of the problems is that we need people people... libraries are not just about books anymore. (b) Continue to have more opportunities for continuing education, to keep skill levels at peak. How to defend a budget is not taught at library sschool, but it's a needed skill. (c) We need to train more people. Of 15000, about 8000 are run by people without masters degrees. We need to provide these people with training. Working on a Library Technical Assistant certification for smaller public libraries, and later academic libraries. However, in schools, they do need a master degreed librarian. (d) Resource sharing is critical for libraries. (e) Recognize outstanding service, and acknowledge poor service. Need a national standard to measure this. How can we constructively bring pressure to bear where communities have inadequate library services?
3. How can we improve library salaries? We have to articulate the issue. We need to get the data needed to make the case, comparing our salaries with those in comparable careers. We need to provide this to the local libraries. This can be won at the local level. ALA is creating packets to assist libraries with arguing their cases. In amny instances our jobs are in line with high tech industry...
4. What are the things we can do to make a difference in our societies and our world? We need to serve ALL people. We can lead the way in diversity; we need to reflect our communities. We need to undertake new initiatives to work with library shools and employers. We need to support the 5th Amendment rights of the American people. A significant amount of library use involves research on sensitive issues, and we need to protect their right to do so. Copyright: we need to keep information free. Access to government info is critical. (e) We can lead the world. Globalization is beginning to catch up with us, and is continuing to intensify. We need to be bringing a vision of American librarianship out to the world. We take our library access for granted, whereas other nations don't have any kind of access. We also have a lot to learn from the rest of the world-- in Europe and other places, libraries are ahead of us.
5. What is the impact of the internet going to be on the Libraries we have today? Communication and information are changing rapidly. The collection is rapidly changing... adn now includes user contributed content, e-books, etc. New services: blogs, emails, rss feeds, Facebook, Flickr, etc. My Library pages for patrons. E-Govt will have an enormous impact. So how does this stuff get deployed? Community wikis, homework help wikis, reading club blogs, etc. How are we bringing the libraries out? E-government is making changes.... Fema forms could only be filled out on computers, and people need access to computers. Just the tip of the iceberg. Gaming: wide variety of issues.. Bringing teens in. Also as a way to do bibliographic instruction through games. Second Life. It's unclear at this point the impact of virtual realities. Our users are there, and we have to figure out what constitutes our meaningful presence, and how to deploy our resources. Digital divide still exists. The number of households with internet access has leveled off. Libraries have to fill the gap. The information safety net, where people who don't have access to technology will be able to get to it. Gates Foundation says libraries are at capacity, in bandwidth, physical space, number of computers. Most importantly, people are still at the heart of it all. We need librarians to update, respond, organize, to make these 2.0 resources actually viable.
6. Can libraries even survive? Given the forces against us (those who hate what libraries represent, officials who want to do away with taxes, mangement gurus who say we don't need libraries) we can't let go of the fact that they are not right. People still come to libraries for things computers can't provide-- social. A Library is an institution where a community creates a set of resources share among the community. It's been a perpetual motion machine, since the beginning with Ben Franklin.
In fact, our future is very bright. [Anecdote re: The Cary Library (Lexington, MA).] Things have never been easy, and we lose sight of that. It is a great and important trust. "Library visitors" would visit to determine what kinds of services were being provided. Caution: we can't take it for granted. We must be advocates. We didn't make the lbiraries, it was the community, and they trust us to preserve and enhance...