Posts Tagged ‘participatory’

I’m thinking of Martin Buber’s emphasis of “I-Thou” in his writings. The though goes that I can not say “I” (or understand myself) without you. We are communal people in need of contact. The web 2.0 stuff is a fascinating application of this. The Hyperlinked Organization article presents a user-friendly approach where we are not dependent on weekly committee meetings but in-progress drafts we can all collaborate on.  How can I really do my job without you? How can I really learn without you? How can I really know myself without you?

I have had this model in my head for a while and have mentioned this in SLIS classes but has never received a lot of “Yeah, that may be the model of the future” kind of response. But in reading the DOK article, I’m now wondering. Could it be a possibility that one day we could see libraries, historical societies, archives, art museums or other cultural entities sharing one facility? I know it wouldn’t work in some communities, but since there are always funding issues for organizations, would they be better off sharing a space that would be more high traffic? Musicians can put on shows. In many cases (not exactly in New Hampshire, which is known for towns where libraries occupy little more than hen houses) libraries have the space with which to accommodate, and since a true weeding would replace shelf space of unused books with activity space, would this not be a modern day Agora? It would become an intellectual and cultural hub of the community. Or is it too far fetched because each organization is autonomous and wants its own space?

A participatory model means the user can go and make things in the library, such as the scanning of old pictures to contribute to a history project. The library has to have a kitchen model, in which we come in and make stuff, as opposed to the supermarket model where we pick up an item and go.

I find the “trashing the collection”  article interesting. Five years ago when I arrived at my new job as a high school librarian, my assistant (who had years of experience in public libraries but was also beginning new at her job) and I rolled our eyes as we went through the shelves. Harlequin romances were the majority of fiction books. The English Dept. head said kids didn’t go and get books from the library because there was nothing to choose from.  And I don’t think Nancy Drew was a big hit. Nonfiction had books from the 60’s entitled “Famous American Negroes,” and “The Judeo-Christian  foundation of hunting.” These shelves were stocked with old, musty books, as the long time librarian had saved the school money by turning a lot of her budget money back in. She didn’t need it- she could find great stuff at flea markets and Goodwill.

So we began operation “Bitch-N-Pitch” and we threw out hundreds of books secretly, often boxing them up and putting in my trunk to take home and throw in our condo dumpster. Otherwise they would show back up. Many reference books were other libraries’ discarded books. By the end of it, we had a lot of empty shelves and for the next few years spent a lot of our budget on new fiction books to get in the hands of the kids. The collection is now a 1997 date average, opposed to 1983. But we try and hide the empty shelf look so people won’t get suspicious of what great gems we are tossing now. But my philosophy was, a 1968 book on the history of China is useless and should be tossed, even if it’s the only book on China. In reality, we have no books on China because that book is useless. So, to save money I would buy books used on Amazon that were maybe 4-5 years old to replace these. Much better than 40-50 years old.

Michael’s participatory service article makes me question what we can really use Facebook for. I am now the default social media librarian at the public library I work at. I have used it before to ask questions, such as my wondering whether we could start a Lego club for kids.  I only got two responses, and neither were helpful.  I have shared articles on library issues and asked patrons what they think, but rarely is there a response. I suppose it is good in that we are even “out there,” but I wonder what else to do with it besides publicize events. I grab my iPod and take pics of things happening and throw them on FB. We have 152 “likes” so people are out there, but I’m curious what else to do with the thing. At least we have a start.

In reading the Unquiet Library, I was reminded, if the space was really possible, to have a “Library at lunch” idea. I would have the music teacher put together a musical program to hold during lunch in the library. Students would bring their lunch and come up and watch it. Not sure space would allow it in my situation, but maybe it would. Perhaps I need to look more into this.

I can relate to all the issues mentioned about school libraries. Until this year, with a breath of fresh air with new admin, we have had a policy of no electronic devices. The day would be spent continually telling students to put them away, and writing them up when they wouldn’t. The new principal asked the other day why we have faculty meetings when there is nothing to discuss (or discuss something which could be discussed via email), simply for the sake of saying we did? He also pointed out the hypocrisy of saying students come first, yet all department heads meet 7th period every Thursday, which means they do not teach any 7th period, and over 70 students are in study hall because there are fewer classes to take. While this is school and not library issues per se, I find we all have such silly rituals with no meaning because at one time they were convenient or needed.


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