The digital shift has been upon us all for some time now, and the issues and realities are getting deeper and more complex as library service continues to be transformed by the multifaceted changes already in place and others on the horizon. In ongoing coverage, Library Journal continues to track the issues, report on solutions, and surface the deeper challenges for the profession.
Here, we begin anticipating our free forthcoming virtual event “The Digital Shift: Reinventing Libraries,” brought to you by LJ and School Library Journal, to be held October 16. These essays by two leaders begin an exclusive series of articles to come in September and October that raise key questions about the new state of libraries. Peer to Peer columnist Barbara Fister reflects on the need to reinvigorate instruction in light of how we now collect resources. University of Washington iSchool’s Joseph Janes, in turn, calls for libraries to strike a balance between protecting privacy and innovating to add value—with patrons’ permission.
In the coming weeks, look for essays from unglue.it’s Eric Hellman and Char Booth, instruction services manager and e-learning librarian, Claremont Colleges Library, CA, and a series from other library thought leaders from the provocative collection Library 2020, gathered by Janes.
In the meantime, reflect on the reinvention yourself, and register for the thedigitalshift.com/ReinventingLibraries.
By Joseph Janes
When I was a kid, I used to help out in my local public library. I spent a lot of time there, and my mom worked there, so I shelved and read the stacks. Over time they let me work at the circulation desk.
One of my early revelations came via a married couple who read voraciously, so much so that they would carefully write their names on the back endpaper of each book once they were finished with it. This meant that they wouldn’t check out the same book twice and also that everybody else in our small town knew what they’d read. (It was also among my first experiences at readers’ advisory; they had pretty eclectic but intriuging tastes.)
By Barbara Fister
When we were creating our first strategic plan at my library, we held some focus groups with faculty. One of them said something that still resonates with me: “It’s not about technology, it’s about pedagogy.” He thought we were paying attention to the wrong thing.
A decade later, when we were putting together a new strategic plan, I noticed that the word technology had essentially vanished from our discourse. It was assumed, like electricity, to be part of the infrastructure in which we teach and learn. It was so essential that it had seeped into everything else and disappeared.
Along with this shift, something else has happened that is so pervasive it is essentially invisible. We used to build collections; now we enable access through annual licenses as a supplement to what is freely available on the web.