November 24, 2017

ULC Kicks Off ALA 2008 with Fast Forward Conference

By LJ Staff

  • Urban Library Council aims to push faster library innovation
  • Looks at three-to-five year cycles
  • John Seely Brown (“Innovation at the Edge”) leads session

For more ALA coverage, check LibraryJournal.com/ALA2008

In a heady, challenging day-long program June 26, preceding the American Library Association Conference in Anaheim, the Urban Libraries Council brought together some 200 library directors, managers, and young librarians to consider transformational trends in learning and social networking that demand faster library innovation. “In an era of Google, what do libraries become?” asked ULC’s “virtual” scholar Jeff Garreau, a scenario planner and author of Radical Evolution, who has been working with ULC this year to help members define potential library futures.

Speaker John Seely Brown (The Social Life of Information) discussed the notion of 21st-century literacy—“that technologies are central to success”—and the shift from “I think therefore I am” to “We participate, therefore we are” and I am what I produce and other people build on.”

Ironically, two panelists attendees might have expected to endorse those ideas challenged Brown’s social learning construct. Owen Wasow, co-founder of BlackPlanet.com, contradicted Brown, saying that core skills—reading, writing, math—are key to success. “Technology should be subservient to higher goals,” he said.

J.C. Herz, Joystick Nation author and founder, emphasized libraries as “the social space around content,” especially books, and urged librarians to be “the network (or community) around books.”

Wrapping up the day, U. of Washington I School prof Joe Janes said that “digital neighborhoods are bereft of the services and resources we represent. How do you provide that service?” One answer might be in the new values for the profession that he proposed: “collaboration, participation, interaction, creativity, connectivity and connectedness, openness, vision, reflection, and play.”

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