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Update: Thanks to everyone for the great conversation, which I hope to rejoin at lunch.
Since people are still writing in and talking to one another, I'm not inflicting a "Politics Thursday" on you until either this journal drops off the front page or we get no comments for a day. Again, thanks. I'm learning good things and getting food for thought.
I was originally going to ask these questions of GregS*, since he's running for ALA Council, but then I thought it would be even more interesting to get more perspectives. Unscientific but perhaps fun and perhaps thought provoking. If not, I have plenty of pictures left.
My questions for the whole LISNews community are:
1) What are the three biggest problems facing librarianship today?
2) In a perfect world, how would these issues get resolved?
3) Is there anything we as individual librarians and/or library associations can do in the real world to fix the Big Three problems?
The answers to #1 might be repetitive, but I don't think much ink (many electrons?) have been devoted to answering the second two questions.
a) For my money, three of the biggest problems facing librarianship are:
1) Regaining relavance as a place to find information or entertainment.
2) Maintaining privacy of our patrons.
3) Preserving the vast amount of useful digital information while recognizing we cannot save everything.
b) "Perfect World" resolutions
1) Raising new generations of readers through "read-alouds" by parents who frequent libraries for new kids books and tapes.
2) Teaching critical thinking and information literacy from an early age.
3) Putting some kind of "librarian prescence" in all the places a person is likely to be. Like maybe an "ask" button on cell phones.
Having a government that distinguished between thoughts and actions.
"Star-Trek style computer emulators" to run any known combination of hardware and software. These emulators would also be able to reconstruct proprietary standards which were never published.
c) What can we do in the "real world"?
1) Survey entire communities (i.e. not just library patrons) on where they choose to go for information/entertainment. Try to place "librarian presence" in those places. (An "ask" button on your cell phone? More IMs? More bookmobiles? Book carts in Hospitals?
2) When newspaper articles or letters contain wrong information, write correcting letters using authoritative sources.
3) Have ALA move beyond "Read" to "Repair!" "Garden!" "Laugh!" "Cry!", all at your library.
Privacy - Continue to support limits on gov't and corporate intrusions into personal privacy and have ready lists of example abuses. Have ALA run "How would you feel if ..." campaigns based on actual privacy abuses.
Preservation - Focus on unique digital resources that either your funders or community cares about. Keep as many copies as possible in as many places as possible. Start an education campaign about material already lost and the dangers of closed proprietary standards.
Ok! Anyone want to be next? Greg?
I'd prefer that anyone who comments bring up their own issues instead of taking issue with my priorities. But if you feel I'm either spot on or really waaayyy off base, go ahead and tell me.