Library 101…Now What?

David Lee King and Michael Porter unveiled the Library 101 project last week. From what I have gathered, their premise is that there is a lot of social and technological change and libraries and librarians need to adapt and develop some basic skills to stay relevant in this new era. I feel there is a lot of truth in this and it can be helpful in framing discussions about libraries.

The response from the library community over this project has been mixed. They have over 2500 fans on their Facebook Page. There has also been a more critical response on Annoyed Librarian (the comments are especially interesting). Whatever your reaction is, I think that this is an opportunity for librarians as a community to think about the future and moving forward as a profession.

The list of 101 skills on their strangely named 101 RTK are links to good resources, but a bit contrived. I think that as librarians we don’t need to focus on whether or not we have Hulu as a skill. We need to focus on the larger issues that they mention like lifelong learning and the ability to quickly adapt and change.

Change is the norm these days. Having the ability and the aptitude to strategically navigate change is the real skill that all librarians need to have. Having the “ability to type” or “handle ourselves during a conference call” are not things that libraries should be focusing on. These skills will constantly change. Hulu is moving to a subscription model. Twitter and Facebook won’t be around forever. Not all librarians need all these skills. There are a variety of skills that people need for their different positions in public, academic, and special libraries. It would be more helpful if we could focus the discussion on which skills all librarians need.

The best part of the Library 101 project in my opinion are the essays. Most of them focus on those basic, overarching skills and bring up some really good points. My question now is “what is the next step?” Now that we have some of these basic skills spelled out, things like fearlessness, marketing, unlearning, and even math, how do we change people? How do we influence cultures of fear at our libraries? How do we help our colleagues develop these skills necessary for a successful vibrant library profession?

I started a discussion on the Library 101 Facebook Page. Let’s come up with some answers.

Andy Burkhardt

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