Late last week, I received an email from the culture editor at the New Republic about writing an article on the next Librarian of Congress. It was the first offer I’ve ever had to write for a non-library-centric publication and the New Republic has a political bent I really respect, so it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It ended up being a really fun exercise in positive thinking and in articulating why regular people should actually care at all about who the next Librarian of Congress is.
What could a truly great Librarian of Congress do in the 21st century? Maybe one who uses technologies beyond the fax machine? Maybe one who shares the values of librarians (or maybe even IS a librarian). Maybe one who knows how to run a complex organization and doesn’t berate their employees. Maybe one who knows that the best way forward in digitization and preservation of our nation’s history is all about collaboration. Maybe one who understands that the DMCA is ridiculously restrictive and needs to strike a better balance on the side of end-users, creatives involved in remix culture, and people who just want to tinker with the technologies they’ve legally purchased.
Clearly I could not be this snarky in the article, but I’m still pretty proud of it and you can read it here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the next Librarian of Congress! And if you’re interested in this issue, check out Jessamyn West’s amazing article on Medium, her terrific website Librarian of Progress, and the #nextLoC hashtag on Twitter.
I will not suggest that you read (not will I link to) Siva Vaidyanathan’s Slate article, where he wrote “but the library needs more than a respected scholar or librarian. It needs a visionary who can leverage the position to lead us through some essential upgrades and debates that could push this vital institution into public consciousness.” Silly me. I thought librarians could be visionaries and leaders too.
Thanks so much to Jessamyn, my husband Adam, and my parents for reading over my draft this weekend and helping me make sure I didn’t write anything too stupid.