In my last post we considered the idea of Antifragility and how libraries might consider making our collections more anti-fragile. Today I’d like to discuss how we take the antifragile concept further by considering an antifragile approach to discovery, as well as exploring librarianship as a tool for antifragilism.
Arguably, the whole idea of libraries, particularly public libraries, is inherently one of antifragility. The public library allows those with an interest in knowledge or ideas to pursue that interest, without requiring the individual means to fund it. The more our world changes, the more valuable the public library becomes as a source of ideas, information and inspiration. Our communities become stronger and more resilient as they share and discover old skills, new ideas and inspiring stories. Continue reading
I recently read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s excellent book Antifragile: how to live in a world we don’t understand. It’s a rather sprawling, heavily footnoted opus – but with time to reflect I think Taleb has a great deal to teach librarians.
Given the word count Taleb assigns to railing against bureaucrats, corporations, universities and government institutions, he may be less than impressed by my application of his ideas to academic, corporate and public libraries. He does make an exception for municipal government, however, so perhaps he would let public librarians like myself off the hook.
Taleb is a big fan of the private library, one that allows its owner to read wherever her interests take her. A wonderful idea, of course, but one that many humans, due to a lack of means, simply cannot realise. The public (or, in some cases, academic) library can make up for this if it is managed well. Continue reading
On July 10th ALIA released The Library and Information Agenda, intended as a lobbying document for political parties and candidates running in the Federal election (announced yesterday as happening on 7 September). This document outlines ALIA’s vision for libraries and information in Australia over the next three years and asks candidates and parties nine questions. Or rather, in the fashion of these types of documents, it asks them to pledge support for ten goals, couched as nine questions.
I think ALIA has captured the aspirations of Australia’s librarians fairly well, as much as one can in such a disparate profession. This document does, however, raise some questions about ALIA and what exactly The Library and Information Agenda is trying to achieve. Continue reading
ALIA board elections are upon us for 2013. This year I decided to write to all nominees and ask three questions, noting that their answers would be published here. This was prompted by Alyson Dalby’s invitation on Twitter:
I replied to Alyson, but figured I really should ask the other nominees the same question, so I sent all nominees for board Director and Vice President positions the following email on 5 February using the addresses listed on the ALIA site:
Regular readers of this blog will have noticed an absence of posts over the last few months. After a recent promotion I’ve simply been so busy with work that I have neglected you all.
I would like to continue a conversation from the comments in my post on platform neutrality, A failure of imagination, where I suggested that librarians have a responsibility to ensure our communities have access to information in a ‘container’ or format that is user-friendly and flexible. Kathryn Greenhill argued that librarians should avoid trying to duplicate content providers like Facebook and Wikipedia and instead focus on providing access and understanding of these tools. Kate Davis disagreed, writing that rather than librarians building our own software and online tools, we should partner with existing providers.
This exchange highlighted the complexity of these issues for libraries and librarians, and the difficulties the profession is experiencing in defining what we do and why we do it. Are we collectors, curators, or creators? How much of our role is about education, and should we hold particular ethical positions regarding what we provide or teach?
As increasingly shallow as the concept of ‘innovation’ seems to be, what is needed for librarianship to remain useful and relevant is a spurt of real innovation. Continue reading
I often hear librarians promoting their ‘modern librarian’ credentials by saying “it’s about the information, not the container”. By this they tend to mean that librarians in a world of instantly downloadable ebooks, subscription journal databases and multiple other formats for audio, visual and written works should be format-neutral. That we should not be concerned about in which formats information is available, as long as it is available somehow. But what if it is about the container? Continue reading
This post is just for any regular readers.
My branch manager retired a couple of weeks ago, and I’m acting in the position until it is permanently filled. Whilst in some ways this is quite exciting, the downside is that my job hasn’t been backfilled, so I’m basically filling two positions at the moment. Thus I don’t have a lot of energy for blogging and my posts are likely to be a little irregular for the next few weeks. Never fear, It’s not about the books is a long term project, but the next little while might be a bit sparse.
Of course, I’m exploring lots of exciting things, so eventually you’ll get to read about them
For today’s post, I’m handing it over to you. If you’d like me to explore any particular areas of library land, or have a burning question you’d like answered, pop them in the comments below and I’ll try to address them in future posts.