Seth Godin on libraries – take heed

Seth Godin has written a brief, but pretty accurate in my view, summation of the future of libraries. I’ll post it in it’s entirity here, but make sure you start reading Seth. I do nearly every day.

The future of the library

What should libraries do to become relevant in the digital age?

They can’t survive as community-funded repositories for books that individuals don’t want to own (or for reference books we can’t afford to own.) More librarians are telling me (unhappily) that the number one thing they deliver to their patrons is free DVD rentals. That’s not a long-term strategy, nor is it particularly an uplifting use of our tax dollars.

Here’s my proposal: train people to take intellectual initiative.

Once again, the net turns things upside down. The information is free now. No need to pool tax money to buy reference books. What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.

It’s that final sentence that holds the key to survival of the Library profession, and it’s up to Library professionals to understand this and skill themselves up so that they are up to the challenge. If you’re a Librarian right now and you don’t know what Diigo or Delicious are, or how you use Twitter for real time search, or how to go about trying to find the experts out there who may be able to answer the questions your students are posing, then you better start rethinking what it is you are doing. Libraries are not going to be about the book collection forever; they’re not about that now in my opinion. They are about being a connective space; a space where reading, discussion and discovery take place. The professionals in those spaces need to be the information sherpa enabling new understandings of how we go about finding out what it is we need. It means letting go of knowledge and giving it up to empower others. Don’t see that as a threat, view it as an opportunity. If we don’t, the information sherpas in our school are not going to be emanating from the school library. Instead, they’ll be the educational technologists out there who will rise to the fore. Missed opportunities could mean a lost profession.

Joyce Valenza, Doug Johnson and Scott McLeod have all posted responses to Seth’s post. Make sure you visit these for their insights.

Did you know 4.0 – Convergence

The latest update,  in the tradition of Did You Know, from Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, XPLANE, The Economist and Laura Bestler. This video takes things one step further, looking at our changing reading habits and the shift occuring with advertising and where we go to find information. It was created to support The Media Convergence Forum in New York City in October. Somebody buy me a ticket and send me there!!

If you haven’t read Karl Fisch’s post detailing the origins of Did You Know, then you must. You can find an explanation on a wiki devoted to Shift Happens here.   Then you need to send it to your staff and direct them to this video.

In his recent post about this new video, Karl harks back to the original powerpoint presentation he created, and makes some important points we in education all need to consider;  

I think the fact that a simple little PowerPoint (some folks would say simplistic and they would be right – it was meant to be the start of a conversation, not the entire conversation) can be viewed by so many folks and start so many conversations means that we live in a fundamentally different world than the one I (and most of you reading this) grew up in.

I know some folks would dispute that, and that’s an interesting conversation in and of itself, but if you buy that – if you buy that on so many levels the world is a fundamentally different place – then it just begs us to ask the question of whether schools have similarly transformed from when we grew up. If your answer to that question is no, as I think it probably is for a large majority of you, and if you see a problem with that, then what should we do? What is my responsibility, and your responsibility, for making the changes we believe are necessary? What are you willing to step up and do?

Questions we all need to consider. We owe it to our students.