February 17, 2018

Christine Borne | Movers & Shakers 2004

Putting the Nex in Gen


On May 9, 2003, a noisy revolution began in the library world. That’s when Christine Borne launched the electronic discussion group NEXGENLIB-L. Her aim was to involve colleagues around her age (she’ll turn 26 in May) professionally, a group usually unheard in the professional literature and discussions.

The list quickly burned up with complaints about library school and work places, frustration about poor pay and student loans, requests for help with job interviews, pent up ideas for the profession, and the pure joy of networking with newly discovered peers.

‘One of my coworkers has said that complaint is my medium,’ acknowledges Borne, who expertly urges people to start side discussions if they stray off topic–which happens often enough when music comes up. ‘I criticize ALA [American Library Association] with love,’ says Borne, noting that ALA should make efforts to welcome her generation with less-expensive conference fees and scholarships.

Borne has high expectations for the profession. ‘Librarianship needs to infiltrate into popular culture,’ as well as ‘be more active in encouraging civic engagement.’

For herself, she envisions ‘a perfect little directorship where they are open to somebody a little younger.’ When she gets there she’ll strive to integrate the library into the community while continuing to touch base on the reference desk. ‘I really want to concentrate on the concept of the public library as ‘the people’s university,” she adds. ‘I would want to implement a life-skills resource center in my library, following the model of the INFOPlace career center at Cuyahoga County PL. I would like to see this model implemented in public libraries across the country.’

Like Borne, the participants on NEXGENLIB-L have ideals that root them in the profession. Many of the list users are well over 30, and ‘that’s fine’ with Borne. ‘The ‘nex gen’ in nexgen librarian has evolved to encompass generations X and Y, as well as a new frontier of librarianship that any age can be part of,’ Borne adds. For all 618 participants, plus untold lurkers, the list is a networking opportunity and vital recruitment tool that will help shape the nexgen of the profession.




Current Position: Young Adult/Adult Services, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Degree: MLIS, Kent State University, 2002
Web site: www.nexgenlibrarian.net
Influences: Avril McInally, Reference Librarian, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH; Mr. Rogers; and Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Pullman, ‘who love humankind but hate the predicament it’s put itself in’