According to some research I came across, there are few academic library positions devoted to distance learning. You wouldn’t know that by the crowd that showed up for the 16th Annual Distance Library Services Conference. Trends in higher education suggest that distance library services may be where the opportunity lies.
How often do librarians find themselves trying to explain that the library’s mission is not about books but about information? This public misunderstanding about what we are doing and why leads to a community misconception of what we should be doing in the future. The reality is that we as librarians make the same mistake all the time. We know intellectually that informational flow and access are our main missions, but our decisions and our hearts often put the focus on books. Books, in many cases, remain by far the best delivery vehicle for information, but there are many subject areas where other informational vehicles would be more effective, even if implementing those vehicles might mean less money spent on books.
Last year, the American Library Association (ALA), working with the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), established the new Center for the Future of Libraries (CFFL), a new program envisioned as a way to keep libraries ahead of the curve as they prepare for what’s to come in the industry—whatever that might be. That lack of certainty isn’t daunting the center’s new director, Miguel Figueroa. A 2005 LJ Mover and Shaker and former director of the ALA’s Office for Diversity and Office for Literacy and Outreach Services who most recently worked with the Association of Theological Libraries, Figueroa talked with LJ about what the future might hold for libraries and how librarians can be ready for anything.
Public libraries have been publishers before, largely of annual reports, bulletins, and printed catalogs of special collections–items that are now integrated into the catalog itself or available online. More recently, libraries have facilitated the self-publishing efforts of their communities, such as Sacramento Public Library’s iStreet Press and Temecula Public Library’s Flash Books! And academic libraries have entered the scholarly publishing business in increasing numbers. But what might a publishing imprint run by a local library look like? Over the past two years, two public libraries have begun to explore that question.
Welcome to the 2014 LJ Movers & Shakers. The 50 individuals recognized here are passionate about what all types of libraries can do to enhance lives—for adults, teens, schoolchildren, infants, and toddlers. If there’s a common theme among their profiles, it’s that as much as the library is a place to go, it is also a place on the go—to wherever patrons or potential patrons are. The Class of 2014 brings the total number of Movers to over 650. It was difficult to select just 50 people to honor from the more than 225 nominations we received. There’s not one Mover, however, who hasn’t told us that they couldn’t succeed without their colleagues, so, in effect, the Movers & Shakers represent hundreds more who work in and for libraries.
Grappling with the literacy gap has long been at the heart of library work, and several conversations I had at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia got me thinking that we need to be more creative about how we address this persistent problem. Then, the Turn the Page initiative rolling out in New Orleans hit my email inbox, and it struck me as a fresh and much bolder strategy.
Since the term was coined five years ago, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been a subject of much debate in educational circles. In their brief life span, the courses, in which up to many thousands of students can participate, have demonstrated the promise of new technology to democratize education by some and been declared failed experiments by others. MOOC professors, though, say that it’s too early to judge how MOOCs perform, and that after just a few years, even those in the know are still figuring out what MOOCs really are and what shape—or shapes—they’ll take in the future. Whatever MOOCs look like going forward, though, libraries—in the academic and public sphere alike—will play a key role in helping to determine their design and success. In just the few months since we looked in LJ at the MOOC environment (“Massive Open Opportunity,” LJ 5/1/13), the quickly moving field has evolved significantly.
While much has been written about the role of academic libraries in supporting massive open online courses (MOOCs), the inclusion of MOOCs in a public library setting is largely unexplored territory. This past summer, the Ridgefield Library included a MOOC as part of its adult summer reading program. Based on this experience, the Ridgefield Library plans to continue as a meet-up destination for MOOCs as part of its mission to be “an intellectual and cultural center” and to support lifelong learning for all ages.
This Week in Libraries: Arjan van den Born (Professor of Creative Entrepreneurship at Tilburg University)
Paper is dead, move on! Translating your “Why” to the modern age, Creativity and Culture and how to compete with free. This and much more in this week’s episode of TWIL: your weekly dose of library innovation! thisweekinlibraries.com