Some Great Thoughts On Librarianship

There have been several really great posts recently about the philosophies and thinking behind librarianship. I wanted to briefly highlight them here and make sure that folks didn’t miss them. They’re all pretty short. I know they all made me stop and think.

A Stealth Librarian Manifesto:

This first Manifesto is from John Dupuis at York University in Toronto. He argues that in order to

“thrive and survive in a challenging environment, we must subtly and not-so-subtly insinuate ourselves into the lives of our patrons. We must concentrate on becoming part of their world, part of their landscape.”

He focuses on academic librarians insinuating themselves in the world of professors. He suggests instead of always going to library conferences, go to academic or teaching conferences. Give presentations with other faculty members, not other librarians. Some of the things he says may be more controversial like “we must stop writing the formal library literature.” He says instead that we should get our ideas out there in the literature of our users. It seems like his ideas would not just insinuate us with our users but also help us get out of the echo chamber and gain a fresh perspective.

Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto:

This second manifesto is by the ever thoughtful David Rothman. His very short post doesn’t propose anything radically new, but he outlines what librarianship should be about in a very succinct and powerful way. My favorite one is probably #4:

“Whenever possible, obstacles between users and the information they seek should be removed.  Among these obstacles are academic jargon and expecting users to care about cataloging minutia (it is minutia to them, get over it).  Information professionals should be champions of clarity and concision who find accessible ways to describe complex topics.”

In Praise of Ideas:

This last one isn’t a manifesto, but it is a great guest post on ACRLog by Emily Drabinski a librarian at Long Island University. She talks about the ideas we bring to librarianship. She discusses how our personal philosophies and understanding of the world influence how we teach or conduct a reference interview or interact with patrons.

“What it’s possible to know, or even conceive as a question, depends on the context–what has come to count as knowledge over the course of time. It may not be a set of how-tos, but the notion of kairos does provide me a frame through which I work, every day, in my office, at the reference desk, and in the classroom.

Here’s an example: If knowledge is contingent, then I’m never looking for right answers. Instead, I’m looking for ways to engage students in their own active knowledge pursuits, pursuits that happen in time and are never final.”

Go check out these thought provoking posts.


QR Codes At The Tipping Point?

This article about New York City putting QR codes on all of their building permits caught my attention. I found it interesting that a government agency was adopting this technology.

QR codes are pretty cool. Whether it’s videos, pictures or a website, it’s great to be able to attach web content to a physical object. The technology has been around for a while, but adoption in the US has been slow. In the past I have been of the opinion that they were over-hyped and that their time had not yet arrived, at least in America. But maybe now that’s changing.

When governments start adopting technologies they often start becoming more mainstream. It reminds me of how a few politicians began using Facebook and Twitter to connect with constituents, then a few more joined, then everyone rushed to register their Twitter handle. Now everyone is tweeting, from my own socialist senator Bernie Sanders to FEMA.

QR code technology it seems has reached a similar tipping point. I am seeing the little squares much more than I used to. They are all over in our awesome weekly paper here in VT, Seven Days.

QR code in Seven Days

Betty Bargains

They are also around at a lot at our college. I’ve seen them on Student Life and Study Abroad posters. They’re in the cafeteria on the napkin holders. Even the alumni magazine from my alma mater is adding them to their issues.

St. John's University alumni magazine QR code

St. John's University alumni magazine

There are a number of libraries who have started pioneering this technology and have done some really interesting things with QR codes. Syracuse University Library Learning Commons is using them on their bookmarks to link to ways to get help from a librarian. The San Diego State University Library is using them in their catalog, so instead of writing down location info you can scan it. Lafayette College Library used QR codes to create a “Where In The World is Carmen San Diego” game geared towards first years to add some fun to a library orientation. I love seeing all this creativity around emerging technologies.

The time for QR codes might not be ripe everywhere, but I know I’ve seen a lot more of them lately. Is this the case in other places? Are QR codes finally becoming mainstream?