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The past and FUTURE of libraries

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thanks to dottorpeni on flickr

I really enjoyed reading the Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians. It succinctly puts in perspective the place of libraries and librarians in the world.

It came out of a gathering called: In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries (which I wish I could have attended). This group, composed of some very bright library enthusiasts, undertook the task of thinking about the library in big picture terms. It’s often easy to lose this perspective when you’re going to meetings or sorting through mountains of email, but I find this statement invigorating, and something that we as librarians, archivists, etc. can really draw strength from:

The Role of the Library

The Library:

  • Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
  • Encourages the love of learning.
  • Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
  • Facilitates human connections.
  • Preserves and provides materials.
  • Expands capacity for creative expression.
  • Inspires and perpetuates hope.

I hope that when I and my colleagues are making decisions about our library and what we should be doing, that we don’t lose sight of this big picture perspective. I know personally I will try to keep in mind that my mission is bigger than just myself or my institution. It is about all libraries together and about humanity.

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Drupal4Lib recap

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Last Friday I went to the Drupal4Lib camp in Darien, CT.  It was a wonderful conference and I am very appreciative to the Darien Library for hosting it.

There were people in attendance from all over. I talked to one gentleman who was from Sweden. And the skill levels of everyone ran the gamut from expert Drupal hackers to newbies.  I was near that lower level, though I have played with Drupal a lot and have at least a basic knowledge.

Because of the range of skill levels there were a lot of breakout sessions where people could go to more advanced or more basic talks.  It was very relaxed and people could come and go as they pleased.

During one session I decided to go on a tour of the library, and I am glad I did.  I got to see their RFID-robo-book-sorter and their Microsoft “Surface.” The library was state of the art and beautiful. If it was my public library I would spend all my time there.

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I got a few pretty good lessons and ideas out of the conference.  I realized that you can do just about anything you want with Drupal.  If you see something else on another website, there is a chance there is a module in Drupal that can simulate it.

In addition, Drupal has very fine grained user controls which would allow other staff members to edit the website and create and change content that is in their purview. I think this is a great benefit of using a CMS. It makes it easy for people with zero or minimal HTML knowledge to contribute to a common website.

I also liked an idea that John Blyberg discussed about using external websites like Flickr or Blip.tv as hosting sites. Instead of advertising that you are on Blip.tv you just use it to embed videos on your site without making a big deal about it.  I think that this idea could be very useful.  Often it is bypassing the social nature of these sites, but I can see the value of it.

I have also realized that I should not rush into getting a new website up and running. I want it to be everyone’s website, not just something that I put together. Other librarians have to use the website as well and their input and ideas are going to be crucial to its success.  I know that I have very strong opinions about the current website and a new website, but mine is not going to be the only opinion during a redesign.

I am getting excited about starting the redesign process and seeing the new site start taking shape. I know it will be a lot of work, but it will be a lot of fun too.