Excess of Democracy?
Interesting Rooms

Librarians Unnumbered

I found myself wishing that some of the Library 2.0 crowd could be listening in at the AAHSL New Director's Seminar last week.  A dozen participants, appointed to their first director's job between 6 and 36 months ago, and four of us old guys trying to talk about what we've learned in our combined century+ of experience.

On buildings & technology:  "I had lunch with the new director of the campus library and told her that I wasn't interested in helping fund a new ILS -- I don't even need the one I've got...   We're doing journal check-in at the circ desk now -- we don't get that many journals and since we've got to have someone at the service points they may as well do check-in while they're sitting there.  The people in the back are assigning metadata to the objects in our institutional repository...  That's where we think the future is..."

On budgets:  "There is always money...  it's a matter of building alliances and making choices...  A budget is just a way of planning and describing your priorities...  You need to understand the system, and then be very creative in making it do what you want..."

On human resources:  "It is essential to be developing and grooming staff at all levels all of the time...  Every open position is an opportunity to re-think how you're doing things...   The quality of the person, the energy and excitement that they bring to a position, are generally more important than any particular set of previous experiences..."

On the library's position within the organization:  "Relationships are the key -- you've got to be constantly thinking about what the community's goals are and how you can help move the organization forward...  Sometimes that means doing traditional library stuff, but often it will mean doing things that nobody ever thought to ask the library to do...  That's how you come to be seen as essential..."

I don't mean to suggest that the four of us (or any other random handful of our colleagues) have figured it all out, but whenever I hear the denizens of the biblioblogosphere proclaiming that we need to figure out how to embrace change and use technology effectively and engage our users in new ways, etc., etc., as if these are startling new ideas, I'm left scratching my head.  For many of us, this is what librarianship has always been about.


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