By Meredith Farkas | April 2, 2009
Seriously, I found a lot more to like about John Dupuis’ crititicisms of the Taiga Forum Provocative Statements than about the statements themselves. I’m just not sure what the rest of the profession is supposed to do with these statements — I don’t know what they’re supposed to provoke. Some are really doomy-and-gloomy, others are needlessly vague, and few seem structured to provoke positive action or change. For example, look at #10:
… 20% of the ARL library directors will have retired. University administrators will see that librarians do not have the skills they need and will hire leaders from other parts of the academy, leading both to a realignment of the library within the university and to the decline of the library profession.
What are the skills librarians don’t have that they should? And what can we do about it? Nothing I guess, since it’s the people who are second in line (who apparently don’t have the skills to run the library of the future) who are making these pronouncements. Personally, I see a lot of tremendously flexible, passionate, visionary librarians in this profession who are more than capable of leading libraries into a bright future — Jenica Rogers-Urbanek is a great example of such a leader (congrats on the new job, Jenica!!).
Another one I found curious was #5:
libraries will have given up on the “outreach librarian” model after faculty persistently show no interest in it. Successful libraries will have identified shared goals with teaching faculty and adapted themselves to work at the intersection of librarianship, information technology and instructional technology.
Like John, “identifying shared goals with teaching faculty” seems to me what outreach is all about, at least at my small, non-ARL University. How else do we work with faculty to identify shared goals if not through outreach? I must not understand what the word means. But I certainly do agree that we’re much more interested in faculty than they are in us, and that it’s critical that we align our activities with their goals than to push our own agenda as if it exists apart from supporting their teaching and research. But really, is that a provocative statement or an obvious one?
All these statements provoke in me is a sense that AUL’s and AD’s in ARL’s are living in a world that’s a million miles away from my small academic library.
Has anyone else commented on the irony of their tagline (A community of AUL’s and AD’s challenging the traditional boundaries in libraries)? And they challenge those “traditional boundaries” by being an invitation-only organization that only invites AUL’s and AD’s from ARL libraries (wow! that’s a lot of acronyms). And then, at their invitation-only event, they have their closed discussions and tell the rest of us what libraries are going to be like within five years. Still feels pretty darn elitist to me, especially since they publish their statements as a PDF which allows for no dialogue on their site with others. How about sticking those statements into a CommentPress site and starting an actual conversation?
Updated to add: – not being a member of the elite ARL (Association of Research Libraries), many of you may not know the lingo they use. AD = Assistant (or Associate) Director and AUL = Associate University Librarian. Both of which mean second in line to the throne (which is the position of Director or University Librarian). I remember not knowing what any of that meant when I was applying for jobs while in library school and applying for a University Librarian position because the ad was so unspecific about qualifications and I assumed that it meant “generic academic librarian” position. D’oh!