2 Not so easy questions to answer

Andrea Mercado presents us with a couple of "Not so easy questions to answer", along with a couple of good answers. The Massachusetts Library Association application for a scholarship asks 2 simple questions:
1. How are libraries adapting to life in the 21st century?
2. What is the role of the library in promoting literacies?

Andrea says "On first read, I thought this would be easy. Actually, not so much."

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My quick take

Before I read and digest Andrea's answers, I'll give it a shot:"How are libraries adapting to life in the 21st century?"Libraries are not adapting, librarians are adapting. In some cases they are not. In others they're rushing ahead too quickly. But most of all we are being led into the future, rather than leading. Politics, budgets, demographics and Google, et al. are leading the charge into the 21st century. Different librarians are adapting differently depending on what type of library they are working in. As a profession we need to start taking the lead sooner than later. Sometimes I feel like we're in a constant state of catch up."What is the role of the library in promoting literacies?"A library has no role in promoting anything. Promoting literacies has always been, and should always be a central part of any librarians job. As people slowly begin to stop coming to the library for books & reference help, we need to find new ways to promote our roles as educators.[After reading her answers, I really like her Red State / Blue State analogy, and her goal to get ahead of the curve and anticipate needs ]

As expected

I encountered Andrea's post before coming to LISNews, so I've already read her responses.

I'm not sure whether to say "Excellent answers" or "about what I'd expect from Andrea"--or whether those are really the same comment.

Heck, Blake, yours aren't bad either.

Hee, I started a meme

Or, rather, MLA started a meme that I perpetuated. Fancy that.

I love your answers, Blake. So much more concise than mine :).

Libraries are not adapting, librarians are adapting.
But can't librarians who are adapting help libraries adapt? I mean, I've heard stories of librarians who go into libraries and overhaul something wonderful, and it changes the library as an entity. Or perhaps I misunderstand your statement.

Politics, budgets, demographics and Google, et al. are leading the charge into the 21st century. ...Sometimes I feel like we're in a constant state of catch up.
I keep wondering what we, as a profession, can do to stop riding the coattails of other change vehicles, and make a change vehicle ourselves. Right now, there seem to be disparate pockets of librarians trying to make a difference, a profession within a profession.

A library has no role in promoting anything. Promoting literacies has always been, and should always be a central part of any librarians job.
Blake, you are a rock star at nuance. It is the librarians that do the work, and I agree that the question is worded wrong.

However, I feel like we go back to the blue/red state thing here, but within librarianship as a whole vs. patrons, as opposed to just tech/not.

*We*, the librarians, know there's a difference, but I don't think patrons do. The library is a symbol, an icon, a place of meaning for patrons, even if it's not the Third Place (might be Fourth, Fifth or so, maybe). The librarian continues to be, despite best efforts, a stereotype (talk about an inflammatory comment!). So it's easy for patrons to see and recognize how libraries promote things and evolve.

We still have patrons who say, "Give the librarian your book, sweetie," to kids who are checking out at the circ desk. Those patrons would probably think me insane for trying to point out the difference and the meaning of that difference. So yeah, this isn't quite a complete thought process. I'm just trying to get at the "go with what they know, then slowly turn it on its head" approach. Sort of.

Which kinda goes back to your point of librarians needing to promote ourselves as librarians to get to that place where it's not just the library as a place that gets attention, but the librarians and fabulous support staff in it that do it all together. I think a vital part of that is about getting ahead of the curve.

Thinking out loud is fun

Shucks, Walt

You are too kind. I value your feedback!And to think the answer statement for each one is s'posed to be 300 words or less... Who wants to right a book with me? ;)

Re:Hee, I started a meme

"But can't librarians who are adapting help libraries adapt?"I guess my point is it's the librarians that do things, not libraries. One of the problems I see with associations is the focus on libraries rather than librarians."Right now, there seem to be disparate pockets of librarians trying to make a difference, a profession within a profession."And the rest are just passing time till the retire."*We*, the librarians, know there's a difference..."True, but then shouldn't *we* be worrying about *us* and then the rest will follow? That is, if librarians are X then libraries will be X and if librarians are Y then libraries will be Y.And yes, we must market ourselves, and the places we work (librarians and libraries). It's critical and we've been really bad at it in the pass.

Before I read yours, here's mine:

1. Libraries [librarians] are adapting just fine to technology, because they are by training and nature followers and not innovators.

2. Libraries [librarians] have no role in literacy; that is the schools' job, and the sooner libraries get out of that business, the better they will be at supplying what literate people need.

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