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In a church nursery where I used to take my twin sons, there was a banner posted on the wall:

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed1

Yesterday, a rather different quote appeared in my Twitter stream:

“What will kill our profession is not ebooks or amazon or google, but a lack of imagination”2

The victim of this homicide is librarianship.

I, for one, do not believe our profession will die. I do believe it will change. I believe it has been changing since the first day someone was declared a “librarian” and — whether we continue to be called by that title or something else — what we do will always be changing. If a constantly changing world is not for you, then neither maybe a career in librarianship (with thanks to @mstephens7).

But what really bothers me about this statement is the inference that librarians have no imagination. Librarians are some of the most creative people I know — and special props to those who work in library programming for the public; I could not do your jobs.

Here’s what I observe…

Librarians are often first-adopters of new technology, new platforms, new tools. Take Google+ as just one example (among many). Phil Bradley, is a free-lance librarian and Internet consultant who was an early adopter of Google+. Seemingly moments after I joined Google+ I received a request to join Phil’s circle of librarians. By July 7, 2011, there were 750 self-identified librarians on Google+, which launched on June 28, 2011, just 9 days prior and still in invitation-only beta. As of now, Phil tells me,

I’m at 1100 librarians world wide, with 100+ from the UK. The vast majority are American, UK next, and then European, with a brief mention of Australian. Those are the nationalities that come up most often.

According to FindPeopleOnPlus, there are 5581 people on Google+ who identify their occupation as librarian. In eight months.

Why are librarians early adopters?

We are racing to find ways to use technology not only to do our jobs better, faster, and more efficiently, but to more effectively serve and reach our community of users.

And we better! Because to whom is that community going to turn when they need help with these new methods of communicating and accessing information for both survival — and that’s not hyperbole: have you tried to find a paper copy of IRS tax publications or other government forms lately? — and for pleasure/recreation.

Many things we do by rote, we do because they still work. Other things we haven’t changed are things our patrons aren’t quite ready yet for us to change. And sadly, sometimes — too often for my comfort — those who pull the purse strings or sign the approval forms aren’t ready for us to change yet either. Even when it costs nothing but our own time and energy.

If something/one murders librarianship, it won’t be librarians.

It will be those who do not value what we do. Those who believe everything is on the Internet and free. Those who do not understand that the Digital Divide is very real, or that the so-called digital natives aren’t. Those who say, “No!” without ever stopping to imagine what we can accomplish.

Until I can discover the context of the quote2, I can only surmise that is not what the speaker meant. And I can only disagree.

Librarians are not the ones without imagination.

To take a look at what imaginative librarians are jumping into now, pop on over to Pinterest and search the boards and people.

1A quote from the New Testament of the Bible, 1st Corinthians 15:51
2Looking at Twitter feed for 23 March 2012 of both @lindsey_cubs and @mpedson, I believe the quote is from Michael Peter Edson’s “Creating Inspiring Services: Going Boldly Into the Present” keynote address at Computers in Libraries.

It’s my second day back to work after the summer break and I’ve spent a large part of both days reporting to colleagues on, completing reimbursement paperwork and submitting registration paperwork for past and future conferences and meetings.

So far in 2011, I’ve attended four conferences: Creating Futures Through Technology in March, Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival in April, American Libraries Association Annual Conference in June, and the Northeast Mississippi Community College Mobile Learning conference in July.*

I did finally get the CFTTC blog posts written and published — in late April — and two brief presentations given on campus, but the rest of my experiences are still whirling dervish in my poor little brain. I have multiple draft posts sitting over in the Admin side of this blog, and at least four more presentations in various stages of preparation.

Next week will be conference number five: Mississippi State University Libraries’s Summer Conference (MidSouth eResource Symposium and Emerging Technologies Summit). I’ve been hoping to get to this event for about three years! Then, in October, I simply must get to the Mississippi Library Association annual conference since I’m on the State Author Award Committee, to say nothing of missing the last two board meetings of the Society of Mississippi Archivists (as well as that conference) — wow! How’s a girl supposed to have time to go to the beach? <snap>@eeboyd

See any pattern? Okay, beyond the books.

I’m *happily* drowning in educational technology and mobile learning, especially as applied to libraries.  While Erin wonders how to be cutting-edge, I’m just trying to keep up — an impossible task!  There is so much available to instructors, to students, and there are fabulous, creative, and effective innovations for learning being made by both. Unfortunately, decreasing budgets and increased workloads sometimes makes implementing innovative ideas difficult, yet at each of these conferences, I’ve seen examples of how much can done with very little.

Not every school can equip incoming freshmen, or all upperclassmen with iPads. And we all know the “digital divide” is real and often most affects those who also most need equipment, instruction, and access.

One wants to rush in headlong, but the reality is that kind of approach can create an environment of rejection when good ideas don’t quite work out as planned and those up and down the chain question are less than impressed with our efforts. Many of us know that trying and failing, or trying and not quite achieving our goals, is to be expected, and should not be a reason to shut down future attempts.

Fear at all levels — self, supervisors, students — can cripple innovative ideas. I’m hoping small efforts will lead to bigger things. Our students deserve nothing less.

*In the midst of it all, too, this long-time Microsoft Windows platforms user (ALL the way back to PC- & MS-DOS and the PC jr.), switched to Apple products: Macbook Pro, iPad 2, and an iPhone 5 as soon as I can get my hot little hands on one.

scriggle tweets



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