The Cluetrain Manifesto: New Clues

By | 2017-11-27T01:54:14+00:00 November 27th, 2017|Categories: Philosophy/Principles, Technology|

From Wikipedia:

The Cluetrain Manifesto was written and first posted to the Web in March 1999 by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger. A revised and extended version of the text appeared as a book under the title The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual in 2000.

In its central thesis that “markets are conversations”, the work asserts that the Internet is unlike conventional media used in mass marketing as it enables conversations amongst consumers and between consumers and companies, which are claimed to transform traditional business practices. Technologies listed in the printed publication as conduits of such conversations include email, news groups, mailing lists, chat, and web pages. More recent technologies (such as blogs and wikis) are not mentioned.

In its form, the work alludes to Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, a central text of the Protestant Reformation.

The work asserts that the term “cluetrain” stems from an anonymous source speaking about their former corporate employer: “The clue train stopped there four times a day for ten years and they never took delivery.”

The Cluetrain Manifesto was re-published as an extended 10th Anniversary Edition in 2010. In 2015, two of the authors, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, posted New Clues, a follow-up to the work.

About the New Clues
January 8, 2015
David Weinberger
Doc Searls

In 1999, most of the media saw the Web as a new way of publishing, and businesses saw it as a new way to sell us stuff. Meanwhile, the rest of us were getting to know one another, were inventing things, and were having a party.

Four of us got so annoyed by the insistence on misunderstanding the Net that we tried to spell it out in 95 theses that we posted as the Cluetrain Manifesto.

“We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings – and our reach exceeds your grasp.”

That Manifesto had four authors: Doc Searls and David Weinberger who wrote these new clues, and Christopher Locke and Rick Levine. We four also wrote a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto that became a business best-seller. You can read the entire original book (as opposed to the currently available Tenth Anniversary edition that includes copious later reflections) online for free.

Chris writes and cogitates in Boulder. Rick and his brother have Kickstarted a very cool sock company, XOAB.

Doc and David have independently written a number of books (Doc | David) about the Internet. They have also been fellows at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society where Doc continues to instigate ProjectVRM parade, and David is a senior researcher. Until recently, David co-directed the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. In Feb. 2015, he’ll be a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, and will be teaching at Emerson College. Both Doc and David have families, lives, etc., and like long walks on the beach and snuggling under blankets on chilly evenings. We welcome your comments.

 The Cluetrain Manifesto: New Clues (Jan. 8, 2015)

Once were we young in the Garden…

  1. The Internet is us, connected.
    1. The Internet is not made of copper wire, glass fiber, radio waves, or even tubes.
    2. The devices we use to connect to the Internet are not the Internet.
    3. Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and 中国电信 do not own the Internet. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not the Net’s monarchs, nor yet are their minions or algorithms. Not the governments of the Earth nor their Trade Associations have the consent of the networked to bestride the Net as sovereigns.
    4. We hold the Internet in common and as unowned.
    5. From us and from what we have built on it does the Internet derive all its value.
    6. The Net is of us, by us, and for us.
    7. The Internet is ours.
  2. The Internet is nothing and has no purpose.
    1. The Internet is not a thing any more than gravity is a thing. Both pull us together.
    2. The Internet is no-thing at all. At its base the Internet is a set of agreements, which the geeky among us (long may their names be hallowed) call “protocols,” but which we might, in the temper of the day, call “commandments.”
    3. The first among these is: Thy network shall move all packets closer to their destinations without favor or delay based on origin, source, content, or intent.
    4. Thus does this First Commandment lay open the Internet to every idea, application, business, quest, vice, and whatever.
    5. There has not been a tool with such a general purpose since language.
    6. This means the Internet is not for anything in particular. Not for social networking, not for documents, not for advertising, not for business, not for education, not for porn, not for anything. It is specifically designed for everything.
    7. Optimizing the Internet for one purpose de-optimizes it for all others
    8. The Internet like gravity is indiscriminate in its attraction. It pulls us all together, the virtuous and the wicked alike.
  3. The Net is not content.
    1. There is great content on the Internet. But holy mother of cheeses, the Internet is not made out of content.
    2. A teenager’s first poem, the blissful release of a long-kept secret, a fine sketch drawn by a palsied hand, a blog post in a regime that hates the sound of its people’s voices — none of these people sat down to write content.
    3. Did we use the word “content” without quotes? We feel so dirty.
  4. The Net is not a medium.
    1. The Net is not a medium any more than a conversation is a medium.
    2. On the Net, we are the medium. We are the ones who move messages. We do so every time we post or retweet, send a link in an email, or post it on a social network.
    3. Unlike a medium, you and I leave our fingerprints, and sometimes bite marks, on the messages we pass. We tell people why we’re sending it. We argue with it. We add a joke. We chop off the part we don’t like. We make these messages our own.
    4. Every time we move a message through the Net, it carries a little bit of ourselves with it.
    5. We only move a message through this “medium” if it matters to us in one of the infinite ways that humans care about something.
    6. Caring — mattering — is the motive force of the Internet.
  5. The Web is a Wide World.
    1. In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee used the Net to create a gift he gave freely to us all: the World Wide Web. Thank you.
    2. Tim created the Web by providing protocols (there’s that word again!) that say how to write a page that can link to any other page without needing anyone’s permission.
    3. Boom. Within ten years we had billions of pages on the Web — a combined effort on the order of a World War, and yet so benign that the biggest complaint was the <blink> tag.
    4. The Web is an impossibly large, semi-persistent realm of items discoverable in their dense inter-connections.
    5. That sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, that’s what the world is.
    6. Unlike the real world, every thing and every connection on the Web was created by some one of us expressing an interest and an assumption about how those small pieces go together.
    7. Every link by a person with something to say is an act of generosity and selflessness, bidding our readers leave our page to see how the world looks to someone else.
    8. The Web remakes the world in our collective, emergent image.

But oh how we have strayed, sisters and brothers…

  1. How did we let conversation get weaponized, anyway?
    1. It’s important to notice and cherish the talk, the friendship, the thousand acts of sympathy, kindness, and joy we encounter on the Internet.
    2. And yet we hear the words “fag” and “nigger” far more on the Net than off.
    3. Demonization of ‘them’ — people with looks, languages, opinions, memberships and other groupings we don’t understand, like, or tolerate — is worse than ever on the Internet.
    4. Women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive? Meanwhile, half of us can’t speak on the Net without looking over our shoulders
    5. Hatred is present on the Net because it’s present in the world, but the Net makes it easier to express and to hear.
    6. The solution: If we had a solution, we wouldn’t be bothering you with all these damn clues.
    7. We can say this much: Hatred didn’t call the Net into being, but it’s holding the Net — and us — back.
    8. Let’s at least acknowledge that the Net has values implicit in it. Human values.
    9. Viewed coldly the Net is just technology. But it’s populated by creatures who are warm with what they care about: their lives, their friends, the world we share.
    10. The Net offers us a common place where we can be who we are, with others who delight in our differences.
    11. No one owns that place. Everybody can use it. Anyone can improve it.
    12. That’s what an open Internet is. Wars have been fought for less.
  2. “We agree about everything. I find you fascinating!”
    1. The world is spread out before us like a buffet, and yet we stick with our steak and potatoes, lamb and hummus, fish and rice, or whatever.
    2. We do this in part because conversation requires a common ground: shared language, interests, norms, understandings. Without those, it’s hard or even impossible to have a conversation.
    3. Shared grounds spawn tribes. The Earth’s solid ground kept tribes at a distance, enabling them to develop rich differences. Rejoice! Tribes give rise to Us vs. Them and war. Rejoice? Not so much.
    4. On the Internet, the distance between tribes starts at zero.
    5. Apparently knowing how to find one another interesting is not as easy as it looks.
    6. That’s a challenge we can meet by being open, sympathetic, and patient. We can do it, team! We’re #1! We’re #1!
    7. Being welcoming: There’s a value the Net needs to learn from the best of our real world cultures.
  3. Marketing still makes it harder to talk.
    1. We were right the first time: Markets are conversations.
    2. A conversation isn’t your business tugging at our sleeve to shill a product we don’t want to hear about.
    3. If we want to know the truth about your products, we’ll find out from one another.
    4. We understand that these conversations are incredibly valuable to you. Too bad. They’re ours.
    5. You’re welcome to join our conversation, but only if you tell us who you work for, and if you can speak for yourself and as yourself.
    6. Every time you call us “consumers” we feel like cows looking up the word “meat.”
    7. Quit fracking our lives to extract data that’s none of your business and that your machines misinterpret.
    8. Don’t worry: we’ll tell you when we’re in the market for something. In our own way. Not yours. Trust us: this will be good for you.
    9. Ads that sound human but come from your marketing department’s irritable bowels, stain the fabric of the Web.
    10. When personalizing something is creepy, it’s a pretty good indication that you don’t understand what it means to be a person.
    11. Personal is human. Personalized isn’t.
    12. The more machines sound human, the more they slide down into the uncanny valley where everything is a creep show.
    13. Also: Please stop dressing up ads as news in the hope we’ll miss the little disclaimer hanging off their underwear.
    14. When you place a “native ad,” you’re eroding not just your own trustworthiness, but the trustworthiness of this entire new way of being with one another.
    15. And, by the way, how about calling “native ads” by any of their real names: “product placement,” “advertorial,” or “fake fucking news”?
    16. Advertisers got along without being creepy for generations. They can get along without being creepy on the Net, too.
  4. The Gitmo of the Net.
    1. We all love our shiny apps, even when they’re sealed as tight as a Moon base. But put all the closed apps in the world together and you have a pile of apps.
    2. Put all the Web pages together and you have a new world.
    3. Web pages are about connecting. Apps are about control.
    4. As we move from the Web to an app-based world, we lose the commons we were building together.
    5. In the Kingdom of Apps, we are users, not makers.
    6. Every new page makes the Web bigger. Every new link makes the Web richer.
    7. Every new app gives us something else to do on the bus.
    8. Ouch, a cheap shot!
    9. Hey, “CheapShot” would make a great new app! It’s got “in-app purchase” written all over it.
  5. Gravity’s great until it sucks us all into a black hole.
    1. Non-neutral applications built on top of the neutral Net are becoming as inescapable as the pull of a black hole.
    2. If Facebook is your experience of the Net, then you’ve strapped on goggles from a company with a fiduciary responsibility to keep you from ever taking the goggles off.
    3. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple are all in the goggles business. The biggest truth their goggles obscure: These companies want to hold us the way black holes hold light.
    4. These corporate singularities are dangerous not because they are evil. Many of them in fact engage in quite remarkably civic behavior. They should be applauded for that.
    5. But they benefit from the gravity of sociality: The “network effect” is that thing where lots of people use something because lots of people use it.
    6. Where there aren’t competitive alternatives, we need to be hypervigilant to remind these Titans of the Valley of the webby values that first inspired them.
    7. And then we need to honor the sound we make when any of us bravely pulls away from them. It’s something between the noise of a rocket leaving the launchpad and the rip of Velcro as you undo a too-tight garment.
  6. Privacy in an age of spies.
    1. Ok, government, you win. You’ve got our data. Now, what can we do to make sure you use it against Them and not against Us? In fact, can you tell the difference?
    2. If we want our government to back off, the deal has to be that if — when — the next attack comes, we can’t complain that they should have surveilled us harder.
    3. A trade isn’t fair trade if we don’t know what we’re giving up. Do you hear that, Security for Privacy trade-off?
    4. With a probability approaching absolute certainty, we are going to be sorry we didn’t do more to keep data out of the hands of our governments and corporate overlords.
  7. Privacy in an age of weasels.
    1. Personal privacy is fine for those who want it. And we all draw the line somewhere.
    2. Q: How long do you think it took for pre-Web culture to figure out where to draw the lines? A: How old is culture?
    3. The Web is barely out of its teens. We are at the beginning, not the end, of the privacy story.
    4. We can only figure out what it means to be private once we figure out what it means to be social. And we’ve barely begun to re-invent that.
    5. The economic and political incentives to de-pants and up-skirt us are so strong that we’d be wise to invest in tinfoil underwear.
    6. Hackers got us into this and hackers will have to get us out.

To build and to plant

  1. Kumbiyah sounds surprisingly good in an echo chamber.
    1. The Internet is astounding. The Web is awesome. You are beautiful. Connect us all and we are more crazily amazing than Jennifer Lawrence. These are simple facts.
    2. So let’s not minimize what the Net has done in the past twenty years:
    3. There’s so much more music in the world.
    4. We now make most of our culture for ourselves, with occasional forays to a movie theater for something blowy-uppy and a $9 nickel-bag of popcorn.
    5. Politicians now have to explain their positions far beyond the one-page “position papers” they used to mimeograph.
    6. Anything you don’t understand you can find an explanation for. And a discussion about. And an argument over. Is it not clear how awesome that is?
    7. You want to know what to buy? The business that makes an object of desire is now the worst source of information about it. The best source is all of us.
    8. You want to listen in on a college-level course about something you’re interested in? Google your topic. Take your pick. For free.
    9. Yeah, the Internet hasn’t solved all the world’s problems. That’s why the Almighty hath given us asses: that we might get off of them.
    10. Internet naysayers keep us honest. We just like ‘em better when they aren’t ingrates.
  2. A pocket full of homilies.
    1. We were going to tell you how to fix the Internet in four easy steps, but the only one we could remember is the last one: profit. So instead, here are some random thoughts…
    2. We should be supporting the artists and creators who bring us delight or ease our burdens.
    3. We should have the courage to ask for the help we need.
    4. We have a culture that defaults to sharing and laws that default to copyright. Copyright has its place, but when in doubt, open it up
    5. In the wrong context, everyone’s an a-hole. (Us, too. But you already knew that.) So if you’re inviting people over for a swim, post the rules. All trolls, out of the pool!
    6. If the conversations at your site are going badly, it’s your fault.
    7. Wherever the conversation is happening, no one owes you a response, no matter how reasonable your argument or how winning your smile.
    8. Support the businesses that truly “get” the Web. You’ll recognize them not just because they sound like us, but because they’re on our side.
    9. Sure, apps offer a nice experience. But the Web is about links that constantly reach out, connecting us without end. For lives and ideas, completion is death. Choose life.
    10. Anger is a license to be stupid. The Internet’s streets are already crowded with licensed drivers.
    11. Live the values you want the Internet to promote.
    12. If you’ve been talking for a while, shut up. (We will very soon.)
  3. Being together: the cause of and solution to every problem.
    1. If we have focused on the role of the People of the Net — you and us — in the Internet’s fall from grace, that’s because we still have the faith we came in with.
    2. We, the People of the Net, cannot fathom how much we can do together because we are far from finished inventing how to be together.
    3. The Internet has liberated an ancient force — the gravity drawing us together.
    4. The gravity of connection is love.
    5. Long live the open Internet.
    6. Long may we have our Internet to love.

This is an Open Source document.

These New Clues are designed to be shared and re-used without our permission. Use them however you want. Make them your own. We only request that you please point back at this original page ( ) because that’s just polite.

If you are a developer, the text of this page is openly available at GitHub for programmatic re-use. Details here.

To make it as easy as possible to share, use, and re-use the clues, we have put all the text on this page into the public domain via a Creative Commons 0 license. It is essentially copyright free.

The photograph at the top of the armadillo and the bike was posted at Flickr by e. res under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 license that lets anyone use it so long as they attribute it to him and share it with others. (We edited it to make it work better with this page. Nice snap, though, e. res!)


EBOOK: Transparent Library

By | 2017-11-26T13:45:02+00:00 November 26th, 2017|Categories: eBooks|

“The Transparent Library gathers 29 columns from Michael E. Casey and Michael T. Stephens. Originally published in Library Journal from 2007 – 2009, the column explored concepts related to transparency, management, engaging communities, social media, strategic planning and constant change. The e-book includes supplemental essays and columns, and includes a new conversation ‘The Transparent Library Revisited.'”

“I think one overriding theme I see in all our columns in this shift or move from passive librarianship to active librarianship – where the library reaches out to the community and is actively involved with the community to better understand what they need.” Michael Stephens

By structuring the transparent library for constant and purposeful change we reduce the negative impact that change has on both the staff and user. Incorporating change into the organization through creative teams and open lines of communication allows the transparent library to add new tools, respond to changing community needs, and move ahead with new initiatives without shaking up the foundation.”

Kindle edition:

Library Journal Copyright 2007 – 2013

REPORT: IMLS – Annual Report Fiscal Year 2017

By | 2017-11-25T15:03:37+00:00 November 25th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|


2017 Performance and Accountability Report for the Institute of Museum and Library Services | NOVEMBER 15, 2017

“When IMLS was created in 1996, lawmakers cited “great potential in an Institute that is focused on the combined roles that libraries and museums play in our community life.” The agency has carried on that charge, serving the needs of museums and libraries across the United States and its territories. IMLS designs grants and programs for libraries of all types: public, research, academic and tribal; and museums of all disciplines: history, botanic gardens, aquariums, science and technology centers, children’s museums, and zoos. As a federal grant making agency, IMLS continues to serve as the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations…

We’ve started the Community Catalyst initiative, exploring the readiness of museums and libraries to adopt adaptive, collaborative models. In the past year, we offered a special funding opportunity, Activating Community Opportunities Using Museums/Libraries as Assets, to enable museums and libraries to test new approaches to working with their communities to bring about positive change around a shared vision or goal. Community Catalyst calls upon libraries and museums—anchor institutions within their communities—to engage in proactive, creative and adaptive collaborations in support of community development and revitalization. This process seeks to encourage libraries and museums to look broadly for partners to achieve greater impact and reach in to their communities, partners such as local governments and service providers, educational institutions, local businesses, and philanthropic investors.”

Kathryn K. Matthew, PhD
Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services

All the programs support the following goals, as stated in the updated IMLS statute (20 U.S.C. § 9121):
• to enhance coordination among federal programs that relate to library and information services;
• to promote continuous improvement in library services in all types of libraries in order to better serve the people of the United States;
• to facilitate access to resources in all types of libraries for the purpose of cultivating an educated and informed citizenry;
• to encourage resource sharing among all types of libraries for the purpose of achieving economical and efficient delivery of library services to the public;
• to promote literacy, education, and lifelong learning and to enhance and expand the services and resources provided by libraries, including those services and resources relating to workforce development, 21st century skills, and digital literacy skills;
• to enhance the skills of the current library workforce and to recruit future professionals to the field of library and information services;
• to ensure the preservation of knowledge and library collections in all formats and to enable libraries to serve their communities during disasters;
• to enhance the role of libraries within the information infrastructure of the United States in order to support research, education, and innovation; and
• to promote library services that provide users with access to information through national, state, local, regional, and international collaborations and networks.

Many museums and libraries carry out their missions in ways that extend beyond traditional formats and objectives, often serving their cities and towns as enablers of community vitality and co-creators of positive community change. IMLS is helping to identify and support conceptual frameworks and successful approaches that support this type of work through its Community Catalyst Initiative. This initiative calls upon libraries and museums to engage in collaborative arrangements that facilitate and support local community development and
economic revitalization. Libraries and museums are encouraged to identify and leverage local assets, along with their own resources and competencies, to achieve greater impact and
reach in their communities.

IMLS also manages a federal statistical program, which identifies national trends and the public use and effectiveness of museum, library, and information services. The statistical survey
programs provide reliable and objective data in a wide variety of formats used by policy makers and practitioners to inform policy decisions. For example, these data are used by policymakers at the state and local levels to compare conditions in libraries of comparable sizes, by researchers to analyze and improve the state-of-the-art public librarianship, and by private companies seeking reliable national, state, and local statistics for developing business plans and marketing strategies within the library sector of the economy. These statistical survey programs include:

• The Public Libraries Survey, which provides information on key metrics of library health and services across the United States and the outlying territories, and tracks trends in libraries. In addition to the longstanding library data collections efforts, IMLS uses other federal data to analyze how public libraries serve their communities, and produces a report of overall findings, research briefs highlighting topics of general interest, and a public use data file.

• The State Library Administrative Agency Survey, conducted every two years, which describes information the current state and health of state library administrative agencies. IMLS produces a summary report of the overall survey findings an a public use data file, which are used by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, federal policy makers, government and library administrators at federal, state, and local levels, researchers, and the American Library Association.

During natural disasters, museums and libraries often serve as community resources, gathering places, and as providers of information, and if their facilities are intact, they can play crucial
roles in recovery efforts. This includes:
• Serving as places of physical refuge and sources of Wi-Fi, internet access, phone access, and electricity;
• Providing help, advice, and information about recovery assistance such as registering with FEMA and hosting financial planning seminar;
• Serving as safe gathering places during times of crisis, using arts and cultural assets to help with recovery, healing, and building resilience;
• Serving as gathering places for FEMA workers, Red Cross workers, and others who needed physical headquarters for their relief work;
• Serving as sources of volunteer networks that are familiar with community needs; and
• Serving as important partners in creating community plans for emergency preparedness and disaster response.

Strategic Goal 1:
IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities
and our global society.
Objective 1.1: Invest in projects that provide inclusive and accessible learning opportunities to individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, special needs, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Objective 1.2: Support communities of practice that draw on current research and evaluation literature to develop effective informal and formal learning experiences in museums and  libraries.
Objective 1.3: Facilitate partnerships among museums, libraries, and other education providers to expand learning opportunities for the public.
Objective 1.4: Support the training and development of museum and library leadership to meet the needs of diverse publics in a rapidly changing environment.

Strategic Goal 2:
IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.
Objective 2.1: Invest in projects that strengthen the role of libraries and museums as core components of a broader community learning and service infrastructure.
Objective 2.2: Partner with other federal agencies to leverage the resources of libraries and museums in advancing national priorities, including education, health, disaster preparedness, digital literacy and economic and workforce development.
Objective 2.3: Ensure that public and private sector leaders have the information they need to make strategic policy and investment decisions that leverage the infrastructure and expertise of museums and libraries.

Strategic Goal 3:
IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.
Objective 3.1: Support the care and management of the nation’s collections, both material and living, to expand and sustain access for current and future generations.
Objective 3.2: Develop and implement a nationwide strategy to expand public access to the information, meaning, and content found in museum and library collections. The mission of IMLS is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making.



REPORT: Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change: Community Catalysts (2016)

By | 2017-11-24T21:22:49+00:00 November 24th, 2017|Categories: Collaborations/Community, Reports/Plans|

Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change:
Museums and Libraries as Community Catalysts

The report includes case studies and a discussion of conceptual frameworks that can guide libraries, archives, and museums that seek to spark catalytic change in their communities.

The report is divided into the following sections:
• The Introduction traces the increasing importance of anchor institutions (typically universities and hospitals) to contextualize the evolving efforts of museums and libraries and the broad content areas in which they are expanding their activities. It also presents the social wellbeing and collective impact frameworks that are referenced throughout the document.
• The Continuum of Museum and Library Community Initiatives describes the types of efforts that can improve social wellbeing for residents. This section catalogs key considerations for museums and libraries as they design community-focused efforts.
• Understanding Assets and Challenges, and Evaluating Impact summarizes effective methods for assessing community assets, needs, and approaches to evaluating the impact of museum and library efforts to promote the wellbeing of their communities.
• Building Capacity to Support and Spark Change reviews the requisite skills and competencies required of community-centered institutions and provides considerations for obtaining them through staff development, hiring practices, or partnership.
• The Conclusion summarizes key themes from each section to highlight opportunities for museums and libraries to catalyze change in their communities going forward.

A. The Dimensions of Community-Focused Initiatives
The range of ways museums and libraries advance social wellbeing can be plotted along three main dimensions that are generally independent from each other:
• The relationship between an individual initiative and an institution’s established activities and spaces;
• The relative formality of a partnership, when there is one; and
• The museum’s or library’s level of involvement.
For purposes of this document, “partnership” refers to relationships where a museum or library voluntarily joins with at least one other entity, and each partner shares responsibility and resources for achieving mutually identified goals. Partnerships are distinct from other less structured collaborations, in which museums and libraries contribute to broader community-driven work, but their participation is mandatory, or there may not be shared responsibility, goals, or resources (e.g., renting space, or compulsory participation in a municipal initiative). In many cases, museums and libraries may engage members of the public without the support of another organization.

Community-focused efforts thrive when commitment to them permeates all organizational levels, and lines of responsibility for creating and sustaining initiatives are clear.

Considerations for Designing and Sustaining Community-Oriented Initiatives
A common set of considerations guides museums’ and libraries’ decisions to participate in the community-oriented efforts reviewed in this study. These include: institutional support for testing and managing new initiatives, the process through which goals are set, the ability of an initiative to adapt to changing circumstances over a lifecycle, and how roles and responsibilities are defined. Within each of these areas, museums and libraries face challenges and are presented with opportunities to find new ways to advance their institutional missions through collaboration and outreach that enhance the wellbeing of people living in the communities they serve.

Community-focused efforts thrive when commitment to them permeates all organizational levels, and lines of responsibility for creating and sustaining initiatives are clear.

The pursuit of catalytic community-oriented initiatives has pushed institutional boundaries toward meeting specific needs, both through traditional activities10 and a more fundamental shift toward collaboration, reflection, and community-driven programming.11 At many museums and libraries this has entailed a top-to-bottom assessment and even reorganization of community-engagement and partnership practices, while others have made more minor adjustments. In interviews, museum and library staff consistently highlighted the need for high-level institutional support for community-oriented work and partnership formation. Consistent messaging from the director and board level about the importance and intent of these activities is essential to a truly community-focused orientation. There is also a need for clarity about where authority and responsibility to begin and sustain initiatives lies. In some library systems, branch staff are instrumental in piloting new ideas, while in others there is a more centralized approach. No matter what the decision-making structure looks like, it should be clearly communicated. Adequate resources are essential for departments or individuals tasked with outreach, so that they can develop, monitor, and adjust their work. Without sufficient financial means and staff time, efforts can quickly falter.

Reputational risks associated with moving into new content areas can be managed so that community trust is enhanced rather
than compromised.
Museums and libraries often prize their particular reputation in a community. Some are proud to be seen as purveyors of accurate and trusted information, honest brokers in sensitive matters, or protectors of cultural heritage. Some institutions see themselves as advocates for critical issues. However, as institutions become more involved in initiatives addressing potentially contentious matters, they expose themselves to a greater level of public scrutiny and reputational risk. The director of the Topeka Shawnee Public Library acknowledged that as the library has become more involved with local economic development efforts, she and her staff are continually challenged to maintain their institutional position as a site for the free exchange of competing ideas, even when this may conflict with personally held beliefs. Each institution must carefully consider whether and when it is appropriate for them to take positions about matters of public concern, such as education or immigration policy, when doing so may expose the institution to diminished public trust or reputation.

Museums and libraries face practical constraints that can limit their ability to engage with members of the public and partner with
external groups.
“Getting away from the desk”—both moving around the building and getting outside of it—has become a mantra for some community-facing institutions, but breaking the habit of staying within arm’s reach of a collection or database can be hard.13 Officials at several institutions emphasized the importance of attending a variety of community events to demonstrate engagement, but this can also put a strain on staff resources. For example, a group of branch librarians at the Free Library of Philadelphia received extensive training related to business services. Ideally, these librarians would attend networking events and commercial corridor association meetings to connect with the entrepreneurs they hope to serve. In the library field this is typically called “embedded librarianship.” But often there is not enough staff coverage at the branches to allow librarians to be offsite.
At other institutions, staff noted that community events are frequently held at night or over weekends, requiring staff to put in additional hours beyond their standard workday. Having sufficient staff levels and flexible schedules that allow individuals to swap out traditional hours of operation for evenings and weekends can support efforts to connect more deeply with the community and help mitigate burnout among staff who spend a lot of time offsite.

Initiative planning and management includes testing new ideas, transitioning to new phases, and sustaining efforts as they evolve over time.
Community initiatives tend to follow a similar path: big idea, planning, launch, growth, and sustained operation or sun-setting. Not all initiatives will be lasting, nor should they be. As one museum official put it, “We start each pilot with a question” to guide the work. Starting small with pilots or informal partnerships creates learning opportunities that require minimal resources and minimal risk. Even after a program has entered full implementation, it may need to adapt to changing needs or resources.
In Massachusetts, the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Apprenticeship Program was developed in response to a citywide call to action to address the low graduation rate and high youth unemployment rate. Since 2010, the program has provided disadvantaged students with opportunities to enhance their academic skills and knowledge, develop professional skills, and gain exposure to higher education and different career paths. Since its inception, the Whaling Museum has maintained a close partnership with New Bedford High School through a consistent and rigorous application process and established sustainable levels of annual enrollment: 18 students per year. To date, every student who has participated in the program has graduated from high school.

As program participants began graduating from high school and transitioning to college, Whaling Museum staff realized their graduates needed ongoing support to successfully make this transition—a well-documented phenomenon among disadvantaged and first-generation college students across the country.14 In response to this ongoing need, the program is pursuing opportunities to expand its support to graduates during their first year in college. Like many programs, the Apprenticeship Program is principally supported through grant dollars, challenging program staff to continually write successful grant applications. The program’s expansion to first-year college students makes the museum eligible for additional funding streams focused in this area. In this way the Whaling Museum is enhancing its services for New Bedford youth and creating an opportunity to become more financially sustainable.

Partnerships are most effective when they are developed strategically, with clearly defined roles for each partner that account for their particular capacities and resources.
When it comes to partnerships, museum and library staff have acknowledged becoming more deliberate in identifying partners with specific, complementary skill sets or resources (e.g., neighborhood relationships, content expertise, and financial stability), with whom they could effectively share goals and responsibilities. Some institutions even use set criteria to evaluate potential partnerships to assess their own capacity to partner on a given effort, their potential partner’s limitations, and other relevant considerations.
These evolving approaches are being developed in response to the fact that partnerships can put stress on limited resources—particularly time—and create tension related to communication, expectations, and conflicting institutional cultures, all of which need to be managed.15 Initiating partnerships with clearly defined roles for carefully selected partners can increase the value of working together and also mitigate potential rough spots down the road.

Museum and library staff may consider the following types of questions during partnership development, as applied to their own institutions and potential partners as well:
• How does this partnership advance each partner’s institutional mission?
• How does this partnership address an unmet need in the community?
• Does this partnership expand access to community members who are not yet engaged with the institution?
• What unique contributions does each institution bring to the partnership?
• Does each institution have the capacity—skills, time, financial resources, space, etc.—to meet their commitments to the partnership?
• Does each institution have the capacity to manage the partnership?
• How and when could a pilot initiative transition to a sustained partnership?
• What evidence would prompt this transition?
• How will the partners assess the results of their combined efforts—
for their institutions and the community?

Dimensions of Social Wellbeing
• Economic Wellbeing: material standard of living— income, education, and labor force participation;
• Economic and Ethnic Diversity: the extent to which certain income levels and ethnic groups are concentrated or mixed in a place;
• Health: physical and mental health status as well as access to care;
• School Effectiveness: the degree to which the local school environment is conducive to learning— student achievement, dropout rates;
• Cultural Engagement: opportunities to experience one’s own cultural legacy and those of other residents;
• Housing Quality: physical and financial conditions associated with shelter—crowding, code violations, and relative cost burden;
• Political Voice: freedom of expression and involvement in the democratic process;
• Social Connection: the presence of nonprofit organizations and cultural resources that connect at an institutional level, and the level of trust and neighborhood participation that underlie face-to-face relations;
• Environment: the quality and risks of the physical environment—the presence of parks and open space, heat vulnerability, and environmental hazards;
• Insecurity: threats to physical security—violent and property crime, social tensions.

Report by Reinvestment Fund Policy Solutions with  support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


Occupational Outlook Handbook: Librarians (2016)

By | 2017-11-24T16:12:31+00:00 November 24th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Statistics, Trends|

Excerpt: Employment of librarians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Communities are increasingly turning to libraries for a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a continuous need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information.

However, budget limitations, especially in local government and educational services, may limit growth for libraries and librarians.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians,
on the Internet at

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016
25-4021 Librarians

Administer libraries and perform related library services. Work in a variety of settings, including public libraries, educational institutions, museums, corporations, government agencies, law firms, non-profit organizations, and healthcare providers. Tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials; and furnishing reference, bibliographical, and readers’ advisory services. May perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesize, analyze, edit, and filter information. May set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information.

National estimates for this occupation
Industry profile for this occupation
Geographic profile for this occupation

Article: 50 Years of Intellectual Freedom (ALA, 2017)

By | 2017-11-11T03:38:41+00:00 November 11th, 2017|Categories: Library Truths, Philosophy/Principles|

50 Years of Intellectual Freedom
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom celebrates its history
November 1, 2017

Extract: “When you need the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), you need it now. Many mornings in the office at the American Library Association (ALA) headquarters in Chicago begin with a panicked call or email: A school principal yanked a book from the shelf. People are protesting outside the library against a speaker. A board member objects to a display. A national coalition targets a database.

This December, OIF is celebrating 50 years of fighting for intellectual freedom: half a century of championing ­libraries, finding allies within the literary community, and aiding librarians in times of high anxiety. It’s an evolving role to be cherished and safeguarded.

At the 1965 Midwinter Meeting preconference in Washington, D.C., the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) recommended an ALA unit be established to “promote and protect the interests of intellectual freedom.” Among its interim objectives was to create “positive mechanisms” that could defend intellectual freedom, collaborate with state intellectual freedom committees, and establish relationships with other First Amendment groups.

Expectations for the new office were high, but they also allowed for creativity and experimentation. To get the project off the ground and establish it as the voice of intellectual freedom in libraries, ALA needed a headstrong, daring leader, one who could persuade would-be censors and find allies within the literary community. It was Judith Krug—a 27-year-old reference librarian from Evanston, Illinois—who would not only transform OIF from an unsettled two-person team into a thriving office, but also completely alter the landscape of intellectual freedom for the better.

Fifty years since its founding on December 1, 1967, OIF remains an indispensable resource for librarians. It has had only three directors, each bringing a new vision to the office: Judith Krug, Barbara Jones, and, currently, James LaRue. When LaRue first arrived at ALA in 2016, he delineated three distinct roles for OIF.

Case support. OIF is there for library workers and governing authorities who face challenges to their services.

Thought leadership. Intellectual freedom, whether viewed as the fight against censorship or the impassioned defense of the right to question, is a fundamental library value. OIF carries the free speech torch in publications, webinars, workshops, and keynotes. It also works with intellectual freedom allies, such as the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) and the Media Coalition, particularly in the area of litigation. OIF has played a key role in landmark decisions involving libraries and the internet, as well as patron privacy. See Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union (2002), which ruled the Child Online Protection Act unconstitutional, and United States v. American Library Association (2003), which required schools and libraries receiving E-Rate discounts to install web filtering software.

Leadership development. Intellectual freedom needs a cadre of informed and skilled advocates. Those skills are developed and deployed through such ALA units as IFC, Committee on Professional Ethics, and Intellectual Freedom Round Table.
Case support

Case Support: A mere two years after its founding, OIF was receiving 250 communications each month, half of them requests for assistance. Krug’s desk became littered with piles of paperwork and case files. Although paper communication still floats around the office today, censorship incidents are now documented in a database, which tracks both challenges and the follow-up case support OIF provides. And instead of phone calls and letters—although those are still welcomed—the OIF website hosts a censorship reporting form, which allows staff members to efficiently reach out to librarians and provide next steps. In response to the spike in hate crimes in libraries after the November 2016 presidential election, the form now offers a category to report incidents of hate-based graffiti, property damage, and intimidation in libraries.

OIF provides much of the same support it has since its beginning. OIF staffers write statements of support, locate people to speak at local school board meetings, gather book reviews and library policies, consult legal authorities, and visit communities.
Shifting targets

Evolving societal values and the political landscape frequently shift the targets of challenged materials. In the 1970s, when the Watergate scandal shattered the illusion of trust between the government and its citizens, people turned their attention to local government institutions that they could control: schools and libraries.

“ In 2014, America was, for the first time, a majority nonwhite nation for children under age 5, according to the US Census Bureau estimates. In a Virginia high school, Toni Morrison’s Beloved was challenged because of “graphic sex,” but OIF Assistant Director Kristin Pekoll contends that race is a significant reason why the classic was threatened with censorship.

“There are so many issues in her novel that people are uncomfortable with,” said Pekoll, who is usually the first staff person educators talk to when facing a challenge. “It’s easier and less embarrassing to say ‘graphic sex.’”

On college campuses, the “right not to be offended” is causing concern. “Now we are seeing a regrettable move toward censoring speech that offends,” said Judith Platt, the recently retired director of Free Expression Advocacy for the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Recent speaker disinvitations have taken place at DePaul University, Virginia Tech, and University of California, Berkeley.
Thought leadership

OIF has several publications that educate the public about censorship. The Intellectual Freedom Manual, first published in 1974, combines all interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights, the core document for the library professional. Frequent requests for up-to-date banned book information inspired Doyle and Krug to create a resource guide on censorship. What started as scribbles on index cards evolved into a 308-page tenth edition in 2017, complete with timelines and tweetable quotes. The office also carries on its 50-year tradition of distributing Freedom to Read and Library Bill of Rights statements.

Each OIF leader brought different allies to the intellectual freedom discussion. Krug worked on national alliances, initiating coalitions that coordinated efforts between booksellers, publishers, lawyers, and editors to defend the First Amendment. She also founded FTRF, a separate 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that focuses on litigation and public education.

“Krug provided a platform to take actions that the Association isn’t willing to make, or can’t make,” said Doyle, referring to FTRF. “She invited diverse people to the table … who are thoughtful.”
The Speaker

Krug transformed the image of librarians from quiet, behind-the-desk researchers to fierce “gatekeepers of the marketplace of ideas.” This notion was put to the test with OIF’s production of The Speaker, a film that divides ALA membership today.

The Speaker is set in a high school that invites a professor to explain the “theory of genetic inferiority” of African Americans, sparking backlash from the community and principal. OIF, IFC, and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee wanted to screen the 42-minute film at the 1977 ALA Annual Conference in Detroit and distribute it to schools, libraries, and governing boards.

Before the film premiered, there was a sense of uneasiness about its future. In 1976, AAP pulled out of the project. When the ALA Executive Board previewed the film, it voted to delay its premiere date in Detroit but quickly reversed its decision.

Despite the initial reactions, the film was shown at the conference. During the 45-minute discussion that followed the applause and hisses at the rolling end credits, some attendees argued that ALA should disassociate itself with the film. ALA Council voted against the proposal, a decision that triggered tension between free speech and social justice advocates.

Then–ALA Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth told American Libraries that there was a lot of pressure on him to fire Krug. Unsurprisingly, Krug stuck by The Speaker. In the accompanying discussion guide for the film, Krug and IFC Chair Florence McMullin wrote that they were proud of a project that addresses a sensitive topic: the toleration of ideas we find offensive.

“It’s an issue that hasn’t gone away,” said Doyle. “I think Krug and others thought that the issue would stand the test of time.” Jones revived The Speaker at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, with an accompanying panel program cosponsored by the Black Caucus of the ALA and the Library History Round Table.

One of the most successful campaigns by both OIF and the publishing community is Banned Books Week. The celebration was launched in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.

Banned books were showcased at the 1982 American Booksellers Association (ABA) BookExpo America trade show in Anaheim, California. At the entrance to the convention center towered large, padlocked metal cages, with some 500 challenged books stacked inside and a large overhead sign cautioning that some people considered these books dangerous.

ALA is currently part of a national coalition to promote Banned Books Week, along with 13 other contributors and sponsors. OIF chooses its own theme each year for the initiative; this year’s theme is “Words Have Power,” to celebrate the power of readers to stand up to censorship and the power of banned books to create literary communities. Krug led the Banned Books Week efforts as OIF director until her unexpected death in 2009. Her legacy lives on in the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund, a grant awarded to nonprofits to host Banned Books Week events.

Another successful OIF initiative is Choose Privacy Week. Held annually May 1–7, the initiative encourages libraries to be champions of privacy rights in the digital age by highlighting tools they can use to protect the privacy of their patrons.
Team ALA

“OIF was seen as the North Star,” said Jones. “When I was there, the US was post–Patriot Act. Librarians would come up to me at international meetings and say, ‘The US cannot fail at this. You can’t fail. We look to you to argue to our governments that we need the freedom to read.’”

OIF consists of five staff members who operate on an annual budget of about $500,000. The office is supported by a vibrant community of Association leaders, guest bloggers, and front-line librarians who speak out in publications, library board meetings, and courtrooms when First Amendment rights are challenged.

Leadership development begins with awareness. All librarians, staff, trustees, and interested parties can subscribe to the Intellectual Freedom Blog and receive a free e-newsletter on intellectual freedom.

LaRue contends that intellectual freedom is not the absence of dissent; success is not measured by silence. “Like every deep value,” he says, “intellectual freedom must be poked, tested, and reapplied to the circumstances of each generation.”

As Krug once said, “It is our responsibility and indeed our privilege to stand on the First Amendment, to challenge censorship, to keep the light of liberty alive and by doing so, to push back a new dark age.”

ELEANOR DIAZ is a program officer with the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. JAMES LARUE is director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation.

Full article here.

Article: Outcomes, Impacts, and Indicators (2015)

By | 2017-11-09T19:56:53+00:00 November 9th, 2017|Categories: Marketing, Outcomes, Programs, Statistics, Tools|

Outcomes, Impacts, and Indicators
By Samantha Becker
September 18, 2015

Edited Extract:

“Despite all the attention and advice about program evaluation, those responsible for carrying it out still struggle to define their program outcomes, connect those to their program goals  (impact), and figure out how to measure them (indicators).

Librarians often have difficulty talking about what we do in terms of concrete benefits; instead, we often default to the loftiest of our many missions: defending democracy, advancing freedom of thought, instilling the love of reading…. While these deeply held values of our profession should guide our ethics and decision-making, we still have a need and an obligation to measure what outcomes we can and demonstrate our impact on the multitudes who benefit from public libraries in real and significant ways.

Theory of change work is another way of organizing indicators and structuring program information. Instead of using the logic model, the program is connected through a series of “so that” statements that show a progression of steps an individual takes through a program and the change each step is to encourage along the way. The logic model can also be overlaid on the theory of change. The theory of change approach can be helpful if a program is started because someone had a great idea, but no one is quite sure how or whether it will work. In that case, sometimes it’s easier to use the theory of change backward, starting by asking what program participants need to know, have, or do in order to improve their lives or their communities and then working back into your program design.

An example that is seen a lot these days: someone wants to create a Maker space. A local foundation is willing to give a grant, but the library has to fill out a logic model and explain how success will be measured. Many librarians will start with what goes into the Maker space and then what kinds of programs will be held there. Yet when it comes to defining outcomes, they are stumped. “I just want the kids to have fun. How do I define fun as an outcome?” is a common refrain heard at library conferences (and in private mutterings over grant applications).

Theory of change work helps break through these blocks. It asks how and why over and over again until responses are exhausted. If it can’t be defined as a measurable outcome, it hasn’t been sufficiently ­interrogated.

Having fun is a worthy and measurable indicator of a satisfying event or program—it’s an output in this context—but an outcome needs to be connected to a higher level goal that resonates with the community and funders, and the indicator needs to be specifically connected to that. That doesn’t mean you have to (or can) prove that coming to a library Maker space leads to better school performance, but it means that you can show, theoretically, how your program could contribute to better school performance.

The theory of change also tells you what to measure—you are testing your theory.

  • Can the kids make the 3-D game pieces? How many did they make?
  • Did the kids play the game? How many played? How many came back to play again?
  • How many came to the library for other reasons? How many times? What else did they do?

When first doing this work, it’s best to write down most every indicator you can think of that can answer your evaluation questions and prove or disprove your theory of change. Then, starting with whether the indicator measures something that matters, start whittling down the list, getting rid of what doesn’t meet the criteria for a good indicator. Once that’s done, methods for data collection can be considered, with survey questions reserved for indicators that can’t be collected by any other method.

A final word: be creative with your methods. Want to know how many unique program participants you have? Try a loyalty card. Want to know how many participants in a digital literacy class learned how to send email? Have them send a message to the library with a particular subject heading and keep a log.”

The Impact Survey was first used in 2009 to help gather data for the Opportunity for All study reports, conducted by the University of Washington’s iSchool with assistance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Libraries: An American Value (Principles, 1999)

By | 2017-11-03T02:29:10+00:00 November 3rd, 2017|Categories: Library Truths, Philosophy/Principles|

Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Free access to the books, ideas, resources, and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government.

Libraries are a legacy to each generation, offering the heritage of the past and the promise of the future. To ensure that libraries flourish and have the freedom to promote and protect the public good in the 21st century, we believe certain principles must be guaranteed.

To that end, we affirm this contract with the people we serve:

  • We defend the constitutional rights of all individuals, including children and teenagers, to use the library’s resources and services;
  • We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve;
  • We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services;
  • We connect people and ideas by helping each person select from and effectively use the library’s resources;
  • We protect each individual’s privacy and confidentiality in the use of library resources and services;
  • We protect the rights of individuals to express their opinions about library resources and services;
  • We celebrate and preserve our democratic society by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions and ideas, so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners – informed, literate, educated, and culturally enriched.

Change is constant, but these principles transcend change and endure in a dynamic technological, social, and political environment.

By embracing these principles, libraries in the United States can contribute to a future that values and protects freedom of speech in a world that celebrates both our similarities and our differences, respects individuals and their beliefs, and holds all persons truly equal and free.

Adopted February 3, 1999, by the
Council of the American Library Association


Preserving Our Values
Libraries as social change agents
May 31, 2016

In 1999, the American Library Association (ALA) Council adopted the statement “Libraries: An American Value.” The principles in that document, in the Library Bill of Rights, and in our mission all speak to the importance of libraries as agents of change and protectors of our heritage. These books speak to those principles.

The Intellectual Freedom Manual is a guide to providing library service in support of First Amendment rights. For the manual’s 9th edition, the background information on its policies has been pulled into a separate volume, A History of ALA Policy on Intellectual Freedom: A Supplement to the 0616-librarians1Intellectual Freedom Manual, compiled by editor Trina Magi and assistant editor Martin Garnar for ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. The essays on these core intellectual freedom documents and their interpretations provide insights on why they were developed, as well as narratives on events that precipitated discussions that led to agreed-upon practices for dealing with issues. Two of the three core documents, the Library Bill of Rights and the Code of Ethics, both adopted by ALA Council in 1939, informed the third, the Freedom to Read Statement, which was adopted in 1953. These were documents of their time, and the histories of their evolution are important reading. ALA Editions, 2015. 172 P. $85. PBK. 978-0-8389-1325-3. (Also available as an ebook.)

0616-librarians2In Ethics and Values in Librarianship: A History, Wallace Koehler digs into more areas where shared values have evolved, sometimes over centuries and often across cultures. Koehler takes a thematic approach, covering stewardship, classification, librarian qualifications, freedom of expression, and libraries and democracy. For an essay on intellectual property, he notes how there was no copyright law when manuscripts were unique objects copied by hand—Great Britain’s Statute of Anne, which was passed in 1710, changed that. The essay on qualifications begins with the status quo and explores models from other countries before analyzing the elements of past practices and beliefs that have informed our current understanding. He also links libraries and democracy to freedom of expression in a pair of essays. Rowman and Littlefield, 2015. 292 P. $80. 978-1-4422-5426-8. (Also available as an ebook.)

0616-librarians3Using decades of research on public libraries, Paul T. Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, John Carlo Bertot, and Lindsay C. Sarin examine how libraries both influence and are influenced by public policies in Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint. The authors make the distinction between politics and policies as they look at the evolution of public libraries as a public good; explore the evolution of policies for public libraries; examine how libraries have changed their communities and have been changed by the communities; and seek to demonstrate the value of libraries in the face of economic and political challenges. They conclude that “public libraries mean far too much to their patrons and their communities for libraries and their supporters to not throw everything they can at advocacy and engagement.” Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. 198 P. $61. PBK. 978-1-4422-3346-1. (Also available as an ebook.)

0616-librarians4Additional essays on the role of libraries as social change agents are found in Perspectives on Libraries As Institutions of Human Rights and Social Justice, the 41st volume in the Advances in Librarianship series, edited by Ursula Gorham, Natalie Greene Taylor, and Paul T. Jaeger. The 19 essays cover such topics as conceptualizing libraries as institutions of human rights and social justice, providing service to marginalized populations, and how these issues are presented in LIS professions and curricula. Examples of services and social change from North American models are included, as well as case studies from India, New Zealand, Nigeria, and South Africa. As noted in the book’s wrap-up essay, the library is sometimes the only institution in a community able to assume a role in resolving human rights issues or extending needed services. But our professional mindset, and even the education being offered, may not equip new practitioners to assume these important community roles. Emerald Group Publishing, 2016. 456 P. $155. 978-1-7863-5058-9. (Also available as an ebook.)

0616-librarians5Elaine Harger’s Which Side Are You On?: Seven Social Responsibility Debates in American Librarianship, 1990–2015 documents debates that led to changes in ALA policy statements and the ways we perceive ALA’s community role. Harger, an active ALA member and participant in the discussions, reports on seven watershed debates—just the catchwords will trigger memories: The Speaker, antiapartheid actions, censorship in Israel and disputed territories, partnerships with the Boy Scouts and McDonald’s, Snowden, and climate crisis. The issues underlying these debates are contentious and not easy to grasp quickly. Harger’s essays on her route to learning about the issues and understanding their impact, along with excerpts from the debates, provide useful insights to ALA’s social conscience. McFarland, 2016. 236 P. $25. 978-0-7864-9455-2. (Also available as an ebook.)

The Freedom to Read Statement (1953)

By | 2017-11-02T23:42:06+00:00 November 2nd, 2017|Categories: Exciting Ideas, Library Truths, Philosophy/Principles|

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
  2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
  6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
  7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association
Association of American Publishers

“The Freedom to Read Statement”, American Library Association, July 26, 2006 . (Accessed November 2, 2017) Document ID: aaac95d4-2988-0024-6573-10a5ce6b21b2

SELF-e: Six Strong Benefits of Supporting Your Local Author Community

By | 2017-10-30T23:58:51+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Categories: eBooks, Marketing|

Six Strong Benefits of Supporting Your Local Author Community in Your Library

As libraries’ roles extend beyond book lending towards becoming community centers, they are embracing opportunities to give selfpublished authors the attention and resources they need to grow as local creatives who enrich the community. More poignant now than ever is the American Library Association’s (ALA) stance that libraries have a duty to support “programs in the humanities and the arts that encourage people to think and talk about ethics and values, history, art, poetry and other cultures.”

SELF-e supports libraries as transformational spaces, serving everyone from patrons who write infrequently to new writers to readers. Using Pressbooks Public, patrons who do not write often can become people who write regularly, and new writers can turn their manuscripts into polished ebooks and print-on-demand books. SELF-e’s community engagement aspect can help local authors become more established in their communities and beyond by allowing local readers to discover new indie literature and by supporting SELF-e Select authors who participate in its Ambassador program. Finally, SELF-e can turn patrons into more engaged readers by supporting library events that connect them with authors. No matter how libraries benefit from SELF-e’s many paths to making the library a transformational space, establishing a reputation as being transformative increases the likelihood of receiving public funding.

Benefit 1
Having programs that support local authors encourages creativity.

Benefit 2
Serving indie authors will increase foot traffic to the library for non-traditional purposes.

Benefit 3
Local author programs can increase public investment in the library.

Benefit 4
Having author-centric programs increases social capital.

Benefit 5
Having opportunities for local writers may lead to better social relations across diverse groups both inside and outside of the library.

Benefit 6
Building strong literary communities in libraries establishes them as vital to an area’s creative placemaking.

SELF-e and Pressbooks Public are viable resources for authors at any point in their writing journey, from conception to publication. These tools, made available through library systems worldwide, allow authors to produce professional-quality ebooks and distribute them to patrons locally and internationally through their public library.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

By | 2017-10-30T22:35:22+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Categories: Philosophy/Principles|

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 3rd session on 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the then 58 members of the United Nations, 48 voted in favor, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

The Declaration consists of thirty articles affirming an individual’s rights which, although not legally binding in themselves, have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, economic transfers, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions, and other laws. The Declaration was the first step in the process of formulating the International Bill of Human Rights, which was completed in 1966, and came into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them.

Some legal scholars have argued that because countries have constantly invoked the Declaration over more than 50 years, it has become binding as a part of customary international law. However, in the United States, the Supreme Court in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain (2004), concluded that the Declaration “does not of its own force impose obligations as a matter of international law.” Courts of other countries have also concluded that the Declaration is not in itself part of domestic law.


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.


REPORT: From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America [2008, OCLC]

By | 2017-10-29T20:02:04+00:00 October 29th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America

OCLC was awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore attitudes and perceptions about library funding and to evaluate the potential of a large-scale marketing and advocacy campaign to increase public library funding in the U.S. The findings of this research are now available in the OCLC report, From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America.

Our hypothesis:
U.S. public libraries are facing marketing and advocacy challenges that have been faced by other ‘super brands.’ Lessons learned and successes achieved can be applied to increase library funding. Utilizing marketing and advocacy techniques targeted to the right community segments with the right messages and community programs, we can improve the state of public library funding.

Among the findings from the report:

  • Library funding support is only marginally related to library visitation
  • Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support
  • Voters who see the library as a ‘transformational’ force as opposed to an ‘informational’ source are more likely to increase taxes in its support

The report suggests that targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.

Copyright © 2008, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
6565 Kilgour Place
Dublin, Ohio 43017-3395

REPORT*: Re-Envisioning the MLS The Future of Librarian Education

By | 2017-10-28T14:51:46+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Keystone Piece, Philosophy/Principles, Reports/Plans, Trends, Uncategorized|

This is a keystone piece* to the library profession – because of its importance, it is reproduced fully from Public Libraries Online
Full article:

Re-Envisioning the MLS The Future of Librarian Education
by John Bertot, Lindsay Sarin, & Paul Jaeger on January 6, 2016

About the Authors

JOHN BERTOT is Professor, LINDSAY SARIN is MLS Program Manager, and PAUL JAEGER is Professor, iSchool, University of Maryland College Park. Contact John at at Contact Lindsay at Contact Paul at

John is currently reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Lindsay is currently reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Paul is currently reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

This article first appeared in PUBLIC LIBRARIES NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

The last several years have been marked by a number of societal changes that include, but are not limited to, the shifting nature of our economy, the workforce skills needed to succeed in a reinvigorated job market, advances in technology, the evolving nature of information, transformations in education and learning approaches, and the rapid demographic shift occurring in our communities.1 Any one of these challenges can have a significant impact on individuals, communities, and institutions. Collectively, the shifts are seismic and impact how we learn, engage, work, and succeed moving forward (see “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Issues, Considerations, and Framing” for additional details). Public libraries in particular have been deeply affected by the changing social, economic, technological, demographic, community, and information landscapes—so much so that various initiatives are exploring the future of public libraries.2 Exploring the future of public libraries, however, also requires us to consider the future of public librarians—and how we prepare them for a dynamic and evolving service context.

Public libraries are in transition, bridging the print, physical, digital, and virtual worlds. We have entered an “anytime, anywhere, any form” mode of meeting the information and other needs of our communities. As we go through this transition, some services are in decline, such as reference (see figure 1). Circulation and visits per capita are declining to more normal rates after a notable spike during the recessionary years (see figures 2 and 3). Time will tell if these will fall further. The future, however, seems more focused on community engagement (see figure 4) as programs and program attendance increase substantially. Interestingly, there is less demand for public access computers (see figure 5), but that may reflect increased device ownership by individuals who use a public library’s Wi-Fi connectivity. These trends reflect newly released findings from a Pew survey of library users that indicate a decline in library visits in the last year by those sixteen and older, from 52 percent in 2012 to 46 percent in 2014.3

Figure 1. Reference Transactions Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 2. Circulation Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 3. Visits Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 4. Program Attendance per 1,000 Population 2004-2013 by Population Served Figure 5. User Sessions Per Capita 2008-2013 by Population Served On the one hand, public libraries are honoring their tradition of providing access to materials in various formats as they have done since the mid-1800s. On the other hand, public libraries now ensure that their communities are digitally ready and inclusive, have access to and help with a wide range of social and government services, can respond to and recover from disasters, benefit from new and innovative services through partnerships with other community institutions, and receive social justice.4 All of these currently evolving and expanding contributions of public libraries to their communities represent a critical opportunity to re-envision and recreate not only the public library, but also the master of library science (MLS) degree program to both prepare students for the shifting roles that public librarians now play and ready them to be change agents and drivers of social innovation in their communities once they are in the field.

Launching the Initiative

It is in this context that the University of Maryland iSchool’s MLS program in conjunction with the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) launched our three-year initiative to Re-Envisioning the MLS.5 The initiative sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is the value of an MLS degree? In particular what is the value of the MLS:
    o In a climate in which public library leaders indicate that they are specifically seeking non-MLS (and its variants) librarians and there are reductions in librarian staff (see figure 6)?
    o At a time when higher education is more expensive than ever?
    o At a time when the value of advanced degrees writ-large are being questioned?
  • What does and should the future MLS degree look like? But also, asking is there a future for the MLS degree—and if so, what is that future?
  • What are the competencies, attitudes, and abilities that future library and information professionals need? And, how do we incorporate these into an MLS curriculum?

Firgure 6. FTEs per 10,000 Population 2003-2013 by Population Served

We also asked more specific questions related to the University of Maryland’s MLS program.

The Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative was designed as a three-year undertaking involving:

  • Year 1: community and stakeholder engagement, discussion, and thought-leader presentations to identify key issues, trends, needs, concerns, challenges, and opportunities;
  • Year 2: review of findings, curriculum and program design, and community and further stakeholder engagement based on the key findings from Year 1 activities; and
  • Year 3: operationalization and implementation of a re-envisioned MLS that reflects Year 1 and 2 efforts.
    Although the effort focused on what graduates will need from four years out and beyond, we do not view this as a “one and done” initiative. There will be continual stakeholder and student engagement as part of an ongoing program evaluation and as part of our ALA accreditation reporting and reaccreditation processes in the years to come to ensure that our program reflects the existing and emerging needs of libraries and the communities that they serve.

The Process

The Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative involved multiple activities that included:

  • The creation of and active engagement with the MLS program’s inaugural advisory board.
  • A speaker’s series, which brought in influential members of the information community who provided thought-provoking views on trends, current and future issues, and challenges and opportunities in our field (see for archives and summaries).
  • Engagement sessions, which were dialogues between students, staff, faculty, and the broader public about selected topics for consideration in relationship to MLS programs (see for archives and summaries).
  • Stakeholder/community discussions, which included numerous regional visits throughout Maryland, discussion sessions with the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators (MAPLA), attendees of the 2015 Maryland Library Association conference, the Division of Library Development and Services (Maryland’s state library agency), the State Library Resource Center (Maryland’s State Library), the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH), and regional libraries throughout the state to engage information professionals from around the state in this dialogue.
  • Blog entries, which documented progress, summarized presentations, and offered insights based on what we had learned along the way.
  • The development of a white paper, which identified key issues, trends, and developments and their potential impact on information organizations and professionals.
  • Environmental scanning and research, which included reviewing key studies, analysis, data, and reports—particularly those focused on the future of information professions and information organizations such as libraries, archives, and museums.

These efforts provided multiple perspectives and inputs that informed the findings from the initiative. We do acknowledge, however, that though our efforts were extensive, they were not exhaustive and thus there are limitations to our findings.

Not the First (or the Last) Discussion

The topic of the changing nature, or lack of changing nature, of library and information science (LIS) education is an almost constant in the library community. Our field has a long history of self-reflection and self-doubt about the education programs preparing them for the profession. This is despite the fact that formalized education programs for librarianship date back 130 years in the U.S., and that the standardized MLS, and its name variants, degree are now more than fifty years old.

In 1985, a library school professor created “An Anthology of Abuse” documenting the different criticisms of library education, ranging from the perceived limitations of the faculty to the perceived limitations of the curriculum to the perceived limitations of the students.6 The list was expanded only a few years later.7 In more recent years, books have suggested that the problems of library education are rooted in a lack of attention to theory, too much attention to theory, too much emphasis on research, and the design of the MLS degree itself.8 There has even been a book arguing that a library education should be done in an apprenticeship model outside of the university and focusing only on books.9 In recent years, blogs and social media have expanded the discussion. The library school student-created and run blog, Hack Library School was founded to create a venue in which current students could learn how to best “hack” their own education. Annoyed Librarian also critiqued the value of library school.10 Hiring Librarians, a blog created as a result of a “frustrating job hunt,” has discussed LIS education and/or library schools many times including an interview where the anonymous academic librarian interviewed specifically said, “do not go to library school.”11 The American Library Association (ALA) and Association of Library and Information Science Educators (ALISE) have also had a series of ongoing discussions regarding the future of LIS education including the Library Education Task Force Report, a publication of the ALA’s Core Competencies of Librarianship, a set of revised ALA Accreditation Standards, and an Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded project at Simmons University.12

For all of the perceived problems over time with library education—and the MLS in particular—it is hard not to look at the discourse and conclude that the library profession tends to see the “new” as a crisis. Outcry over newspapers, recorded music, films, and the Internet and their potential threat to librarianship as a profession and libraries as an institution are easy to point to as examples of threats to libraries and librarianship.13 In 2005, Andrew Dillon and April Norris applied the term “crying wolf” to describe the seeming need for librarianship to incessantly fret about education in the field and suggest that the perception of crisis is a way to avoid substantively changing.14 This avoidance of evolving was labeled the “panda syndrome” in the 1990s, reflecting an animal that has notably failed to evolve to its own detriment.15 In short, instead of perceiving changes and challenges in society and technology as opportunities to evolve and improve education and the impacts made by MLS program graduates, many in the field react to each change or challenge as “an existential crisis that threatens the nature of the field.”16

Public libraries have been especially involved in the discussion on the future (or lack of future) of LIS education. Based on our engagement sessions, regional site visits, a large group discussion with the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators, our MLS Advisory Board meetings, and other activities, several public library systems in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia region indicated that they are not—or will not be—seeking MLS/MLIS-degreed professionals in the same numbers because of funding concerns and/or that their current and future community needs call for more than what current MLS/MLIS programs teach their graduates. Rural libraries (and librarians) in particular noted that they typically have one MLS librarian and that fact was not likely to change. Further, in some circles, a discussion has begun as to whether an MLS degree is needed to serve as a professional librarian—with some indicating a desire to change state policy and law, if necessary, to pursue such a change.

It is within this context that the below summarizes and presents the findings from the Re-Envisioning the MLS report. The full report with its findings is available here. Or here. The article concludes with a series of recommendations for LIS educators and programs, ALA accreditation, practice, and employers.

The Shift in Focus to People and Communities

Discussions on the “big shift” in libraries have been dominated by digital technologies and content—mobile, broadband, public access technologies, digital resources such as e-books and licensed resources, building national digital platforms, streaming content, content creation, and more. Though the “digital shift” is significant, another major shift that has occurred over the past decade, perhaps influenced by the digital shift, is a change in focus for public libraries from their holdings to the individuals and communities that they serve.

Public libraries have been on the forefront of the user-centered design approach for information resource and service development as part of the curriculum for decades; however, the LIS education system has been focused primarily on library-centric user design based on a set of pre-determined standards, services, and operations. The shift articulated as part of the Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative is more fundamental, and involves actively meeting user needs at the point of need (just-in-time) to enable the meaningful transformation of the individual rather than through more passive interactions without determining if the individual can actually use the information to meet his/her needs.

Increasingly, people come into the library with life issues such as access to food, social services, and/or health insurance. The passive or transactional approach provides information and a description of resources. A proactive and individual/community-centered approach would be having on-premise social services, public health specialists, interactive STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) makerspaces, and other more interactive and immersive services that facilitate the transformation (learning, skills, meeting the life need) of the individual. We have seen public library systems using this approach including the hiring of social workers at various urban library systems, the Baltimarket program, summer lunch programs for children, and many others.17

Core Values Remain Essential

Participants in the Re-Envisioning process indicated that what distinguished the MLS from other professional degrees was a set of values that framed who we are as information professionals but also what we are to our communities. In short, these values determine “what it was to be a librarian,” as emphasized by library leaders in one focus group. Participants across a variety of focus groups emphasized the following core values:

  • Access: ability to access information freely and in a manner suited to an individual’s needs and abilities.
  • Equity: access to information and resources regardless of the information professional or user’s beliefs, race, ethnicity, gender-identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or abilities.
  • Intellectual Freedom: free and open access to information without censorship or restrictions.
  • Privacy: ensuring the confidentiality of user and staff personal information as well as the information and resources they seek, use, transfer, and so on.
  • Learning: providing instruction and educational resources that promote education and meaningful learning in an inclusive and equitable manner.
  • Community: seeking to understand and serve the needs of the specific community being served while maintaining the values of access, equity, intellectual freedom, and privacy.
  • Inclusion: providing information services at all ability levels and regardless of those factors outlined in the value equity.
  • Human Rights: supporting and promoting human rights directly and indirectly by equipping community members with the skills and resources necessary to pursue greater equality in various arenas.
  • Social Justice: providing free equitable access to information that promotes the user’s ability to gain equal economic, political, and social rights.
  • Preservation and Heritage: providing current and future access to records, both analog and digital. Embedded in this is the need to safeguard against inequitable or privileged selection or destruction of materials based on prejudiced, privilege, or inequitable biases or assumptions.
  • Open Government: ensuring transparency, public access to, and participation in the creation of government information.
  • Civic Engagement: providing access and meaningful learning opportunities that foster participation in issues or processes affecting the community served.

These values focus on ensuring that all individuals can seek opportunity and success through information.

Competencies for Future Information Professionals

Participants indicated that MLS programs must, at a minimum, provide their graduates with the following competencies through coursework, application, and practice. The competencies identified are highlighted by quotes from participants during the Re-Envisioning process:

  • Ability to lead and manage projects and people, even if graduates do not intend to become a supervisor, director, or manager. “If I could tell someone going into librarianship one thing it would be: expect to be a manager; you’re going to end up managing whether you want to or not.”—Librarian
  • Ability to facilitate learning and education either through direct instruction or other interactions.
    “I want my staff to be facilitators.” —Public Library Director
  • Ability to work with, and train others to use, a variety of technologies. “Staff need to be both up on the latest technologies and be able to help individuals use those technologies”—Academic Library Director
  • Marketing and advocacy skills. “Marketing ‘writ large’ not just to other librarians or the users we have.”—Librarian
  • Strong public speaking and written communication skills. “No more people who only want to hide in the stacks.”—Public Librarian
  • Strong desire to work with the public in general and a wide range of service populations in particular. “We have to be dynamic ‘people-persons’ and be comfortable with a BROAD spectrum of people.”—Library Staff
  • Problem-solving and the ability to think and adapt instantaneously. “I want a risk-taker. It doesn’t have to be perfect to get started.”
    —Library Manager
  • Knowledge of crisis management techniques and social services training. “You never know what you’re going to encounter, and you need to train your students to ‘expect the unexpected’ and be prepared for it.”—Director
  • Knowledge of the principles and applications of fundraising, budgeting, and policymaking skills. “As a director I had to go back to school to learn finance, budgeting, fundraising, the policymaking process, etc.”—Director
  • Relationship building among staff, patrons, community partners, and funders. “We don’t have to, nor can we, do everything. What we can do is partner with others who can help us achieve our goals and the goals of the community.” —Librarian
  • Documentation and assessment of programs. “Just like schools we have to be able to show funders their return on investments.”
    —Youth Librarian

These competencies emphasize three underlying aspects of MLS education: people, technology, and information—but expand to include knowledge of organizations, management, leadership, policy, collaboration, communication, communities, and data. Simply put, graduates need to understand—and be comfortable with—the broader ecosystem in which they provide information services and resources.

The Elephant in the Room: Is an MLS Still Relevant or Necessary?

With the changing nature of libraries, archives, and other information organizations—and their roles in the communities that they serve—the inevitable question of whether an MLS is still relevant or necessary arose throughout the entire Re-Envisioning process. Discussions of this topic were both passionate and conflicted. The following summary attempts to capture the various expressions on both sides of the debate:

  • There was a sense that an MLS is not required—nor perhaps desirable—for all aspects of library work. For example, having human resources, business managers, communications staff, information technology staff, web designers, and other operations staffed by those with expertise and relevant degrees was preferable.
  • Most participants indicated the need for MLS-holding individuals for leadership positions in libraries. An MLS imparted not just skills and an understanding of librarianship and the information professions, but also core values such as intellectual freedom, privacy, access, equity/social justice, open government/civic participation, and learning as articulated above.
  • Some indicated that the field needs to look more broadly than an MLS and seek those with:
    o education and/or instructional design degrees for digital readiness, literacy, and instructional activities;
    o design degrees for “making” and creative activities;
    o social work experience for increasingly social service-related services;
    o knowledge of public health for a range of health information-related initiatives; and analytics for “smart community,” hacking, coding, and other data-related initiatives.
  • Some insisted that the MLS degree was essential, and not just about skills, foundations, and principles, but also signified the importance of the library and information professions and individuals with the degree as professionals.
  • Others indicated that what makes successful information professionals was less about aptitude (which could be taught) and more about attitude, particularly those who wanted to engage the public, were outgoing, innovative, creative, and adaptable.
  • Those in rural and small public libraries indicated that MLS-holding professional librarians, due to pay scales and other constraints, would never be a majority of their workforce and thus they actively engage in a range of paraprofessional recruitment and training.
    The varied views were not a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the open and candid debate around the need for an MLS “no matter what.” There is an increasing acknowledgment that those with other degrees and skills might meet various needs better and that our libraries should be open to those with a range of degrees other than the MLS. Thus the key question that emerged was: What makes the future MLS valuable and valued?

Opportunity for All, Access for All, or Something Else?

Though our libraries have long stood for, and information professionals value, social justice and equity of access, the growing “gaps” (income, education, literacy, employment/employability), combined with the erosion of a public sphere that provides robust social and other services to assist those in need, is impacting and challenging the ability of information organizations to respond in ways that meet the needs of a range of underserved populations. This creates numerous tensions articulated in part below:

  • Librarians want to serve those in need, but feel ill-equipped to deal with the numerous challenges that individuals often face including mental health, physical health, law enforcement, language, family challenges, and other challenges that may require addressing before librarians can offer assistance.
  • Librarians often still focus on the information transaction and need as they were trained to do, while the individuals seek a more immersive and transformative experience (for example, successfully attaining health insurance, pursuing educational goals, successfully attaining access to food and shelter, getting a job, and so on). The ability of librarians to meet these often time-consuming life needs, while also trying to serve others, is a large challenge.
  • The demands of the increasing number of those in substantial need—or lacking in skills and abilities for success in the twenty-first century—is constraining resources and services to the broader community. Some indicated their concern that service to the un- and underserved, though a core value to libraries, is impacting who uses, or is willing to use, the available services, resources, and facilities of public libraries.
  • The growing disparities in income, opportunities, and education manifest early (for example, Pre-K, in schools), can continue into adulthood, and is witnessed in a range of ways in libraries—for example, literacies (basic, information, civic), digital readiness, workforce skills. The cycle is exceedingly difficult to break, and is a constant presence in the provision of information services and resources as librarians seek to “meet users where they are.”

The tension between the growing gaps, wanting to help those with acute needs, not having the resources or skills to, and questioning whether this is an appropriate role for libraries and librarians was a recurring theme. Further, an emergent topic was whether in the name of inclusion, focusing efforts substantially on challenged populations has led other populations who were once frequent library users (for example, families with young children, children/young adults who might otherwise use a library after school) to stop coming to or at least limiting their use of the physical library space. Even with these tensions, the prevailing sentiment from librarians was, “If not the library, then who?”

Social Innovation and Change

A common theme that emerged through the Re-Envisioning initiative was a vision of libraries and librarians as community change agents that can roughly be expressed as: Strong libraries empower their communities and enable individual change, growth, and transformation.

Though expressed in a variety of ways, participants offered a number of terms as part of this vision: innovators, entrepreneurs, disrupters, change agents, facilitators, partners, and leaders, to name some. After some discussion and expansion, participants described a vision for libraries and librarians as critical leaders of social innovation in their communities.18 By forming partnerships, for example, with health care providers, government agencies, workforce development agencies, food service agencies, faculty, research centers, telecommunications carriers, utility companies, schools, local businesses, and more, libraries are essential catalysts for creative solutions to community challenges in a wide range of areas such as health, education and learning, economic development, poverty and hunger, civic engagement, preservation and cultural heritage, and research innovation. Through leveraging trust, expertise, infrastructure, information resources, space, community centrality, cultural awareness, an appreciation of and for diversity, and other assets, libraries and librarians are the “lubricant” in their communities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Engaging in social innovation activities also enables our organizations to provide opportunity for all in ways that they (nor any other entity) could not do on their own.

Issues and Recommendations

Table 1. Areas for MLS Curriculum Development

The Re-Envisioning process identified the above, and other, findings that have implications not just for the University of Maryland’s MLS program, but also for MLS programs in general, libraries, and professional associations. Though just the first year of the process is complete, there are a number of paths forward for LIS education. Future considerations include:

  • Creating curricula that reflects current and emerging trends and realities. Adapting curriculum, learning outcomes, professional development opportunities, and recruiting to better reflect the core values and content areas identified during the re-envisioning process (see table 1). There is a need to integrate these values, skills, and competencies into all aspects of MLS education from degree requirements to ongoing professional education that occurs post-graduation. In addition, there is a need to focus library education more on creating curricula and extracurricular activities that prepare students for the realities of what libraries and librarians actually do, rather than what we think they should do based on standards and professional practices of the past. The Internet, political changes, economic changes, and other social forces have changed what libraries—especially public libraries—do. Emerging trends in technology, demographics, workforce needs, “smart” communities, and other key areas also force us to consider to what public libraries should transform—while at the same time ensuring that public libraries meet the needs and expectations of individuals and their communities.19 Courses in areas of advocacy, education, leadership, technology, data analytics, social innovation, and social justice, among others, need to become more readily available to students in library education programs. Though some may not value or buy into the shift some libraries have taken to become community hubs for education and learning, inclusion, community building, and social service provision, these activities are increasingly central to the mission of public libraries.20 Preparing students to be leaders, advocates, and social innovators—through coursework, continuing education programs, and other activities—for their institutions and their communities is necessary for the sustained health of institutions, the professional success of MLS graduates, and for ensuring opportunity for all in the communities that libraries serve.
  • Engaged and qualified faculty. There are many accredited MLS programs from which students can choose. These programs are embedded in a variety of academic units, and coursework is available in multiple modes—online, in person, or hybrid. The issue in the future is less the availability of MLS education than access to an engaged and qualified faculty and leadership that: (1) values the MLS degree as part of the academic unit; (2) seeks to leverage the increasingly diverse disciplines represented on faculties (for example, computer science, information management, human-computer interaction, learning sciences) to benefit MLS programs; and (3) is connected to the profession and professionals.
  • Research that informs. Scholars also have important contributions to make to the MLS degree. For a field in which so much of the work is professional in nature, it is ironic that research about MLS graduate education has been fairly limited.21 Faculty charged with preparing future librarians could be much more committed to researching, evaluating, and creating innovative approaches to the formal and informal education of MLS students. We need to better understand the service context of public libraries, the communities that public libraries serve, the needs (not just information) of individuals who use (and do not currently use) public libraries, and the extent to which our programs and courses prepare graduates to become public library professionals and leaders. By also studying the public library as a social, learning, engagement (and other dimensions as identified as part of the Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative) institution, we can use that knowledge to enhance our MLS programs and practice.
  • Professional organization support for library education. Professional organizations need to increase their focus on how well they are supporting library education programs in preparing their students for the needs of today and tomorrow. ALA accreditation, for example, is a cumbersome process for institutions and the standards themselves are slow to adapt. Even though ALA has recently revised the accreditation standards, the revision and review process needs to be more agile. Beyond accreditation, the preparation of library school students and young professionals for success in the field is a place in which professional organizations could contribute even more to the long-term health of professionals through mentoring, networking, and continuing education.
  • Rethinking hiring expectations. Many new library graduates are limited in the number of jobs (and here we reference only entry-level positions) for which they can qualify because organizations are crafting positions that require a set of qualifications that new graduates simply cannot meet, most typically multiple years of experience. A tight job market has created a “buyer’s market” but this does not mean that employers should shut out new graduates. As we learned from discussions with recent graduates and alumni, they will, and are, going elsewhere—in some cases leaving the profession entirely. A library may benefit in the short term from hiring only experienced librarians but this strategy will impact our libraries in the long term if no, or few, new graduates are brought into the fold. Employers may better serve their own institutions and the field as a whole by looking to fill positions with a greater balance of experience, innovation, and new graduates.
  • Co-Creation, not Confrontation. Underlying the discussions and site visits with librarians was the sense that library schools, in part,
    were not providing the kinds of graduates they needed for today’s (and tomorrow’s) libraries. But this discussion always seemed a bit “you [iSchools, MLS programs] and us [libraries, professionals]” in its tone. The future rests with strong collaborative development of our curriculum—from courses to experiential learning. Co-creation of curriculum and professional practice opportunities can yield great synergies:
    public libraries would have access to new professionals who meet their needs and the needs of their communities, MLS programs would remain current, and students would have access to relevant leaning experiences and knowledge. The language of “we” is powerful and necessary and through it we all benefit.

The qualities that make libraries so unique and important in their communities can be summarized in four verbs: inform, enable, equalize, and lead.22
These attributes of libraries can also serve as guiding principles for rethinking library education and how we prepare and support students for their careers.

Individual public libraries are often most impressive in the speed with which they can adapt to changing community needs. Library education, professional organizations, employers, and scholars have to become similarly adept at the changing expectations for and capacities of libraries. Horrigan notes, public libraries are at a crossroads.23 So too is MLS education. As the Re-Envisioning the MLS project shows, there are a number
of paths forward for improving the entire process of educating new library professionals to be ready to contribute to their organizations, communities, and society as soon as they graduate. This will require, however, the conviction to make bold changes to ensure the continuing relevance of our field. Our students, our professionals, our organizations, and our communities are all depending on it.


  1. American Library Association, “State of America’s Libraries Report 2014,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  2. Amy K. Garmer, Aspen Institute, “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; American Library Association, “Trends Report: Snapshots of a Turbulent World,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  3. John B. Horrigan, Pew Research Center, “Libraries at the Crossroads,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  4. Paul T. Jaeger, et al., Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); John Carlo Bertot, et al., 2013 Digital Inclusion Survey: Survey Findings and Results. (College Park, Md.: Information Policy & Access Center, University of Maryland College Park, 2014); Paul
    T. Jaeger, et al. Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion (Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015); Kim M. Thompson, et al., Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion: Information Policy and the Public Library (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).
  5. John Carlo Bertot, et al., “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations” (College Park, Md.: College of Information Studies, 2014), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  6. Samuel Rothstein, “Why People Really Hate Library Schools: The 97-Year-Old Mystery Solved at Last,” Library Journal 110, no. 6 (April 1985): 41–48.
  7. April Bohannan, “Library Education: Struggling to Meet the Needs of the Profession,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 17, no. 4 (1991): 216–19.
  8. André Cossette, Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice, 2009); Michael Gorman, The Enduring Library: Technology, Tradition, and the Quest for Balance (Chicago, Ill.: ALA Editions, 2003); Richard J. Cox, The Demise of the Library School: Personal Reflections on Professional Education in the Modern Corporate University (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice, 2010); Boyd Keith Swigger, The MLS Project: An Assessment After Sixty Years (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield).
  9. Juris Dilevko, The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice Press, 2009).
  10. Annoyed Librarian, “Okay, Who Cares if Library School is Easy,” Annoyed Librarian blog, Oct. 25, 2010, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  11. Emily Weak, “Do Not Go to Library School. Librarianship is a Dying Profession,” Hiring Librarians blog, Jan. 14, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  12. American Library Association, Library Education Task Force, “President’s Task force on Library Education Final Report,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; American Library Association, “ALA’s Core Competencies of Librarianship,” accessed Dec. 22, 2015; American Library Association, Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association, “Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Simmons College, “Envisioning Our Future and How to Educate for It,” (2015), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  13. Alexis McCrossen, “One More Cathedral” or “Mere Lounging Places for Bummers? The Cultural Politics of Leisure and the Public Library in Gilded Age America,” Libraries and the Cultural Record 41, no. 2 (Spring 2006): 169–88; Jean L. Preer, J. L. (2006). “Louder Please: Using Historical Research to Foster Professional Identity in LIS Students,” Libraries and the Cultural Record, 41, no 4 (2006): 487–96.
  14. Andrew Dillon and April Norris, “Crying Wolf: An Examination and Reconsideration of the Perception of Crisis in LIS Education,” Journal of
    Education for Library and Information Science, 46, no. 4 (Fall 2005): 280–98.
  15. Stuart A. Sutton and Nancy A. Van House, “The Panda Syndrome II: Innovation, Discontinuous Change, and LIS Education,” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 40, no. 4 (Month or Season? 1998): 247–60.
  16. Paul T. Jaeger, “Looking at Newness and Seeing Crisis? Library Discourse and Reactions to Change,” Library Quarterly 82, no. 2 (April 2012): 289–300.
  17. Jon Bowman, KWGN Colorado, (2015, July 7). “Denver Public Library Hires Social Worker.” KWGN Colorado, July 7, 2015, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Mark Jenkins, (2014, August 27). “D.C. Adds a Social Worker to Library System to Work with Homeless Patrons, Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Scott Shafer, “Urban Libraries Become De Facto Homeless Shelters,” NPR, April 23, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Patrice Chamberlain, P. (2015, March 17). “Summer Meal Programming at the Library,” Public Libraries Online, March 17, 2015, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  18. James A. Phills, et al., “Rediscovering Social Innovation,” Stanford Social Innovation Review (Fall 2008), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  19. American Library Association, “Trends Report: Snapshots of a Turbulent World”; Horrigan, “Libraries at the Crossroads. Pew Research Center.”
  20. Lynn Westbrook, “I’m Not a Social Worker: An Information Service Model for Working with Patrons in Crisis,” Library Quarterly, 85, no. 1 (Month or Season? 2015): 6–25.
  21. Cox, The Demise of the Library School:
  22. Bertot et al., “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations.”
  23. Horrigan, “Libraries at the Crossroads.”

REPORT: Ready to Code Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries

By | 2017-10-28T00:51:03+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

Ready to Code: Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries
by Linda Braun and Marijke Visser

“Beginning in January 2016, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) (with funding from Google K-12 Education Outreach) launched the Libraries Ready to Code project. This project marked the beginning of an investigation into the current nature and scope of computer science (CS) activities in public and school libraries for youth starting at the earliest ages through high school.

With 500,000 current job openings in the field of computer science, all 115,000 of the nation’s school and public libraries are crucial community partners to guarantee youth have skills essential to future employment and civic participation. To discover how libraries support computer science, coding, and computational thinking skills acquisition by youth, the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy initiated a year-long “Libraries Ready to Code” research project. Research identified priority areas including securing additional funding, professional development opportunities for library staff, and broader strategic partnerships. This report explores these priorities and highlights recommendations.

It is a crucial time for this investigation. Librarians know they have a unique role to play in ensuring young people of all ages participate in creating communities that are  economically and socially robust. This report investigates how libraries can build on and strengthen that role. As noted in the 2016 Aspen Institute report, “Libraries in the Exponential Age,” “Library practices have traditionally been centered on the work of building and maintaining collections, and interactions with users and other institutions have been largely transactional although this is beginning to change. As the role of the library evolves beyond access and lending to providing a platform for learning, innovation and creativity, libraries need to think in dramatically different ways and develop new approaches to their work in line with this changing role.”

Key Conclusions (Spring 2016)
• Librarians should be confident in their preparedness to teach coding
• Library coding activities/programs should focus on building skills for the future

American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) advocates for public policy that supports and encourages the efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public’s right to a free and open information society.

REPORT: State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014

By | 2017-10-28T00:26:17+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014

This report issued August 2016 contains data on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for Fiscal Year 2014.

The data includes state library agency identification, governance, public service hours, service outlets, collections, library service transactions, library development transactions, services to other libraries in the state, allied operations, staff, income, expenditures, and electronic services and information. Data for the State Library Administrative Agency Survey is collected every two years.

Summary: “One of the most substantial findings of this report is the continued decline in total revenues to SLAAs. This decline coincides with the Great Recession and has continued through FY 2014. In FY 2014, total SLAA revenues equaled $1.1 billion, coming from federal, state, and other revenue sources; this total represents a 17 percent decrease in federal revenue, an 11 percent increase in state revenue, and a 13 percent decrease in other revenues when compared with FY 2004. Yet, the pattern may be changing, as total revenues increased by 5 percent from FY 2012 to FY 2014.

The decline in total revenues for SLAAs coincided with a reduction in staff. The number of FTE staff positions declined by 22 percent from FY 2006 to FY 2014. This staffing contraction was greatest for library services, which declined by 26 percent during this eight-year span. In contrast, staffing declines in library development were the smallest, at 10 percent from FY 2006 to FY 2014. Within the groupings of states, the reported relative loss of FTEs behaved as expected, according to the patterns of revenues and expenditures.”

Institute of Museum and Library Services
955 L’Enfant Plaza North SW, Suite 4000
Washington, DC 20024-2135
202-653-IMLS (4657)

REPORT: Re-Envisioning the MLS: Issues, Considerations, and Framing

By | 2017-10-27T23:55:01+00:00 October 27th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

Full Report:

Re-Envisioning the MLS:
Issues, Considerations, and Framing
College of Information Studies
University of Maryland College Park

Key Trends
The trends discussed are grouped into the following categories:
§ Technology: The continuing implications of rapid advances in how we use technology to engage with, access, and share information are currently unknown. However, libraries and cultural institutions must prepare for these changes to adequately serve community needs.
§ Data and Analytics: Open data, open government, and community challenges in areas of health, education, workforce, environment, and various other key issue areas increasingly rely on data in a variety of formats. Moreover, they rely on a range of analytics skills, from data curation, manipulation, analysis, and visualizations. The role of libraries in local data infrastructures will take on increased significance.
§ Learning: Learning strategies are changing as evidenced by the move of a majority of states to the Common Core. So too are the types of knowledge and skills that our learners
require so that we have life-long learning and skills development opportunities. Increasingly this means more STEM, digital technologies, digital literacy, data, visualization, coding, hacking, etc. At the core is the need to build inclusive opportunities for continual learning.
§ Demographics: The US is undergoing significant demographic shifts that will influence the configuration of the communities we serve. Population growth, an aging public, and
increased diversity will all contribute to changing demands for information services, content, and engagement.
§ Policy: Current policy decisions being made at the international, national, state, and local levels will have significant impacts on the future of technology, education, equity, and
many other aspects of society. These decisions hold great potential to dramatically affect the role of cultural institutions in the community and challenge long-standing library
§ Resources: Libraries exist in an environment of increasingly limited resources; tight budgets, environmental shifts, and increasing strain from growing population will necessitate operational changes in the coming years.

Presented September 30, 2014, to:
MLS Advisory Board
College of Information Studies
University of Maryland College Park

Annual Report of OCLC 2016-2017

By | 2017-10-24T23:06:20+00:00 October 24th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

2016-2017 OCLC Annual Report:

“What started in 1967 as a dream for a few academic libraries in Ohio is now a reality for thousands of libraries worldwide and the millions of people we serve.

As a nonprofit global library corporation, our goal is to achieve an operating income over time that ranges between 2% and 4% of revenues. This approach ensures that OCLC remains financially sound and can make ongoing investments in technology, research, and development required to meet the needs of our membership. Historically, we have achieved this goal through revenues in line with the cost to deliver services, plus interest and dividend income from our investment portfolio.

As noted in last year’s report, OCLC has operated at a loss due to restrained price increases combined with heavy strategic investment into new services, as well as technology upgrades, facility renovations, and a staff resource realignment. Dividend and interest income from the investment portfolio has enabled OCLC to partially offset these operating losses.

Unlike other library services organizations, we reinvest all of our income into new products and programs rather than distributing funds to shareholders or business owners. Our revenue stream from library services and the investment portfolio provide a stable cash flow that allows for strategic capital investments while supporting the long-term viability of OCLC.”

Some highlights:

• There were more than 274 million page views on™, making library collections findable and accessible around the world.

Advancing the National Digital Platform identifies the extent to which public libraries are digitizing their collections and how they can work cooperatively.

• With Demystifying IT, we helped archivists achieve a better understanding of how information technology professionals work so that they can be more effective collaborators.

• The Relais™ International team joined OCLC in January 2017. Relais D2D, the market-leading consortial borrowing solution, provides key features such as requestability logic, which facilitates the highest fill rates in the industry.

• More than 15,000 learners used the WebJunction Catalog of library courses and webinars during the year.

Library as Incubator Project: Madison, WI

By | 2017-10-19T09:59:19+00:00 October 19th, 2017|Categories: Collaborations/Community, Exciting Ideas, Programs|

We believe the library is a place to connect and create.

The Library as Incubator Project was created by Erinn Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, and Christina Jones, and was inspired by a discussion about creative advocacy for libraries in one of their courses at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies.

The Project highlights the ways that libraries and artists can work together, and works to strengthen these partnerships. At a time in which both libraries and arts organizations are often having to do more with less, it makes sense for these two parts of our culture to support each other. The Library as Incubator Project calls attention to one of the many reasons libraries are important to our communities and our culture, and provides a dynamic online forum for sharing ideas.


The mission of the Library as Incubator Project is to promote and facilitate creative collaboration between libraries and artists of all types, and to advocate for libraries as incubators of the arts. We serve this mission both through the Library as Incubator Project website and through other offline projects.
On our website you can find:

“After some research, we realized we couldn’t find anything about artists in the academic library literature, so we set out to answer these questions ourselves. During a one-credit Independent Study course, we designed a qualitative survey and sent it to over 100 artists, writers, makers, and librarians in the Madison area. We wanted to know if artists used their local library (or any library, for that matter), how they used libraries, and what kinds of services they’d like to see from libraries. We were blown away by the response: not only do libraries play a huge role in a lot of artists’ work and creative process, but in so very many different ways! We heard everything from “I found books that inspired me” to “I actively seek out library resources to help with project research” to “I love working in the hushed quiet of a library.”

Quote from The Library as Incubator Project wants YOU to look at Programming as Collection Development

Jeff Bezos Should Put His Billions Into Libraries [Wired mag]

By | 2017-10-18T20:13:49+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Categories: Library Truths, Marketing, Philosophy/Principles|

Very good words on the value of today’s library…

Jeff Bezos Should Put His Billions Into Libraries
by Susan Crawford, a columnist for Backchannel and a professor at Harvard Law School. She is also the author of The Responsive City and Captive Audience.

Imagine that you are Jeff Bezos. For four hours two weeks ago, you were the richest person in the world. And though Wall Street knocked you down a notch, pretty much everyone thinks it’s inevitable that you’re going to be number one again. You’re starting to be aware of the smell of the tar pits and you’re casting about for a way to put all that loot to some good. You’re eying the Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge and thinking that if you donate half your fortune it should make a difference. You’re comfortable with making older but meaningful institutions great again.

So far, you’ve concentrated on things that might benefit our distant successors—space travel, cancer treatments, AI, and a clock that will keep running for 10,000 years. But you want to do something more immediate. You say you want your philanthropic activity “to be helping people in the here and now—short term—at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.” You are open to suggestions–so much so that you even recently tweeted a “request for ideas.

Though you don’t mention it, I suspect you’re thinking of stepping into an area that traditionally government might have addressed—but now, in an era in which the wealthy are doing better and better, benefits seem to go toward the top while the “urgent needs” of just plain people are left to the grace of a harsh marketplace. Like it or not, citizens are increasingly dependent on the kindness of strangers with billions of dollars,

I have a suggestion for you, Jeff Bezos. How would you like to become the Andrew Carnegie of our time?

Yes, I am talking about libraries. Those places where books sit on shelves, not delivered by FedEx. And so much more. Carnegie made them the center of his philanthropy, and almost became synonymous with them. More importantly, he changed countless lives with his investments in libraries. I have heard that you’re looking for big ideas, and this is one.

Today, local libraries are thought of as slightly retro public institutions. For some reason, major donors don’t get excited about them. OK, there are some notable exceptions to this rule—in my adopted city of New York, for instance, Stephen Schwarzman has his name engraved on the main branch building of the public library; in Kansas City, the Kemper family has donated millions to the downtown branch and a Kemper scion, R. Crosby Kemper III, has been the executive director of the library for more than 12 years.

But the real impact—the one that changes lives and transforms communities—has yet to be made. It turns out that libraries are the very model of the more-than-shovel-ready, here-and-now, urgent-need-and-lasting-impact places that you as a tech philanthropist claim to be interested in supporting in a big way. And libraries’ needs are dire.

You, Mr. Bezos, may not have been inside a library in a while. Things have changed. Today, libraries are serving as essential civic places. Trusted by every part of American society, they’re the only noncommercial places other than city squares where people meet across genders and ages. They provide all kinds of services and programming—just visit the glorious Madison, WI Central Library, where a first-rate makerspace is under the same LEED-certified roof as local service agencies helping people sign up for health care and food assistance.

Librarians are not shushing people, and libraries are no longer only silent cathedrals for solo reading. (They still have reading rooms—don’t worry.) Instead, these great pieces of civic architecture are being repurposed: They’re places that offer classes in computer skills and thousands of other subjects, provide internet access to millions of Americans who can’t afford it, and host innumerable neighborhood meetings.

Libraries these days are providing meals to kids and adults through local food banks, working with local immigrant agencies, offering homework help, and loaning out an amazing array of things, from musical instruments to microscopes. (Yes: the Library of Things.) What they’re up to is dazzling. And in 2013, 94 percent of Americans said that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community. As America gets older and more unequal, its people need new forms of education to thrive—and libraries are ground zero for every public value the country cares about.

The American Library Association says that America’s more than 120,000 public, school, academic, and special libraries are visited more than 1.4 billion times a year by hundreds of millions of Americans in every corner of the nation and from every walk of life. They complement but do not compete with your mighty commercial bookselling venture, Mr. Bezos. At the same time, libraries are chronically under-resourced. Limited hours. Limited staff. Low pay. Constant need for renovation. Overcrowding.

Libraries are attempting to serve people in an era of thin government support, increasing need, and staggering inequality—much like the era that gave us Andrew Carnegie. His response to the problems of his time was to build thousands of public libraries across the country, starting in 1886. Most of those beloved community libraries are still functioning. Carnegie aimed high, wanting to make the world better than he found it. And he succeeded.

Here’s the twist in the story that you, Mr. Bezos, may not know: Carnegie’s money was given on the condition that local public authorities step up with pledges to support and maintain the institutions that he launched. For Carnegie, this structure fit with the idea that communities were being helped to help themselves—a pillar for him. Many cities turned down Carnegie’s offer, and later regretted it.

If you are looking to have your name be kept alive in the memories of generations—or if you simply want a legacy worthy of the fortune you have reaped—you don’t need to start something new or even have it named after you. (You didn’t rename the Washington Post, either, and yet it’s becoming one of the handful of great news sources in the world.) Hidden in plain sight, the local libraries of America are patiently waiting for your attention. (They’re also often really beautiful spaces, and I can tell that you like design. Just down the street from your headquarters is Rem Koolhaas’s terrific Seattle main library, with areas named after donors and relatives of Paul Allen, Microsoft, Charles Simonyi, and Boeing.)

Whether or not the local library a random American uses today was actually built by Carnegie, he or she knows what that philanthropist did. More important, if a philanthropist was someone who wanted to get a glimpse of what his money did, he would be proud of what his money had accomplished.

Tragically, the federal government and the states are constantly cutting back on library funding. You would almost think that politicians don’t want members of the public to have access to the very knowledge that would lead them to make informed decisions! But those politicians are ignoring the fact libraries are citadels of civilization and economic ladders for those otherwise stuck on the bottom rungs. Why not use the lever of your money, Mr. Bezos, to spur public authorities to do their part? Just like Carnegie did. It is hard to imagine a better use of billions.

 8/9/2017 – Backchannel is a digital magazine that delivers readers the most revealing technology stories in a single weekly dispatch: no fluff. Learn more here.

IMLS: Grant-Making Activities and Processes (2017, Robin L. Dale)

By | 2017-10-17T01:17:48+00:00 October 17th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

Statement of Robin L. Dale, Deputy Director for Library Services, Institute of Museum and Library Services Before the Committee on House Administration

Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 4 – Federal Depository Library Program

October 11, 2017

Good morning Chairman Harper, Ranking Member Brady, and Members of the Committee. On behalf of Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, I want to thank you for this invitation to submit testimony before the House Committee on Administration as you examine the modernization of the Government Publishing Office (GPO).

I first would like to take a moment to give you a brief overview of IMLS, where I serve as Deputy Director for Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the Federal agency with primary responsibility for ensuring the availability of museum, library, and information services to meet the essential needs of the people of the United States. IMLS is an independent grant-making agency and the primary source of Federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. Of the $231 million appropriated to IMLS in Fiscal Year 2017, $215.3 million was directly awarded to eligible institutions to support museum, library, and information services. The agency carries out
its mission through grant-making, research and data collection, and leveraging our investments through strategic Federal, state, and local partnerships.

IMLS was created with the passage of the Museum and Library Services Act of 1996 which, as amended, authorizes the agency to award financial assistance, collect data, form strategic partnerships, and advise the President, Congress, and other Federal agencies on museum, library, and information services. The agency consolidates Federal library and information services programs dating back to 1956, and Federal museum programs dating back to 1976.

IMLS ensures critical access to and development of library services throughout the United States, its territories, and Native American tribes, pursuant to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), 20 U.S.C. 9121 et seq. IMLS also supports critical library services initiatives that facilitate innovation and workforce development through competitive grant programs.

Full document



Key Reports