Scandinavian countries have introduced libraries to some wonderful things in the past few years. Nordic Noir fiction, some beautiful new buildings to gather inspiration from, and perhaps the most interesting of all: the concept of hygge. Pronounced “hoo-ga,” it loosely translates from the Danish as “coziness,” but bloggers, news reporters, and folks sharing #hygge-tagged images are quick to say it is so much more. Some might argue that it’s a feeling, a vibe, a state of mind. Others say it’s about connections, conversations, and comfort.
In his Wall Street Journal (WSJ) January 11 op-ed piece, “In Age of Google, Librarians Get Shelved,” public librarian Steve Barker writes, “The role for librarians and public libraries is shrinking” because of emerging information technologies. Five respondents disagreed in letters to the editor reprinted a week later by calling attention to librarians’ ability to ferret out “higher-level information” and their capacity “to readily decipher between the relevant and irrelevant information” that has been made possible by the profession’s “metamorphic shift to information science.” And American Library Association (ALA) president Sari Feldman justifiably concludes, “At a time of information overload and growing gaps between digital ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ the roles for dynamic and engaged librarians are growing.”
Looking for quiet places, neutrality at work, info lit for a lifetime, and more letters to editor from the March 1, 2016 issue of Library Journal.
Innovation Catalyst Librarian, Wikipedian in Residence, Director of Knowledge Curation and Innovation. These are just three of the job titles emerging in libraries that indicate the dynamism of the field. They point to libraries as a destination for talent seeking a great place to develop a career while making a contribution. Long misunderstood in the popular psyche as a haven of employment for those who just love to read, libraries are complex service organizations with opportunities to get paid to do good work for a lifetime. As they have evolved, so have the particular jobs available, and now is an exceptionally interesting time to think of the library as the place to dedicate the bulk of one’s waking hours. Along the way, libraries are looking more and more like the innovative employer every community should have humming at its core.
On January 15, a team of bold, innovative librarians from the City University of New York (CUNY) set out to do what many librarians in the United States have not: travel to Cuba for a week-long expedition of cultural, professional, and informational exchange. I was among those chosen for the trip. The mission was exhilarating as it was challenging.
I’m concerned that the Canadian Library Association (CLA) has decided to disband. It isn’t just that I remember many of the top Canadian librarians I befriended and the good times I had at CLA conferences. The Canadian librarians I recently talked to were very unhappy about the dissolution of CLA (though they were too few to be a valid sample, and their views are too close to mine to help me understand what brought about this drastic action).
In my last column, I shared some background about a librarywide user experience (UX) project at the Chapel Hill Public Library (CHPL), NC. I focused there on communication, which, while not directly a UX topic, is essential to any ongoing, meaningful library UX work. Now I’d like to dig into some of the changes being explored.