Journalism and Librarianship

Here is an interview I did with Bill Densmore, organizer of the upcoming “Beyond Books” event on librarianship and journalism. A good primer for the Atlas of New Librarianship book launch event Thursday.

David Lankes: The participatory, assertive, subversive, radically positive librarian? from Bill Densmore on Vimeo.

Posted in Links, New/Participatory Librarianship | 2 Comments

iPad Atlas App Walkthrough

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So to coincide with the launch of the Atlas of New Librarianship next week at the ACRL conference, I will be releasing a companion iPad app (and website too). The purpose of this app is two-fold: to give you something of use in engaging with the Atlas of New Librarianship, and to show you what one person can do with $400 worth of software and no ability to program in C.
I do all of this to show that you can too. Librarians don’t have to become computer scientists to take advantage of the new mobile tools. To be sure, talented and dedicated programmers can make better apps – and to be equally sure there are librarians out there that already are. You need to be there too: able to rapidly prototype, specify and meet short-term needs online.

Libraries are places of conversation and learning. They are places to create knowledge, and increasingly that means building software and apps. Whereas 100 years ago we helped scholars write books, today we can help scholars, housewives, small businesses, and students create apps.

This is my app. It is not perfect. It is not the future of ebooks I have talked about in the past. It is instead an example. Join me in making it better.

While the app won’t be available until next week, I am posting a walkthrough of it here.

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship, Publications News | 10 Comments

ALA Press Release on the Atlas

Ala News


New from ACRL and MIT Press: The Atlas of New Librarianship

The Atlas of New Librarianship cover.

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/22/2011 – 13:33

Contact: David Free
ACRL

CHICAGO – The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and MIT Press announce the co-publication of a new title, “The Atlas of New Librarianship” by R. David Lankes of the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings and committees?

“The Atlas of New Librarianship” offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. Lankes describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning and suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities. To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the discipline.

The book contains more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the work is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking and call to action.

This exciting new work will debut with a launch event at the ACRL 2011 conference in Philadelphia. Lankes will speak and sign copies of the book at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 31, 2011, in Room 103 of the Philadelphia Convention Center.

“The Atlas of New Librarianship” will be available for purchase at the launch event in Philadelphia and is also available through the MIT Press online store.

**

ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments. ACRL is on the Web at http://www.acrl.org, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship, Publications News | 3 Comments

Bullet Point: Why Publishers Need Librarians

Bullet Point: Why Publishers Need Librarians
I have been trying to write this blog post for a week. I want to say something useful in the disappearing ebook issue, but every time I start I turn myself into knots. I am a published author. I really do like the publishers that I have worked with, and think they still serve a purpose. However, what Harper Collins is doing is just – well – stupid.

So I want to publish a rant, but keep feeling like a hypocrite…my published book comes out in a few days – hell, I was a publisher when I ran an ERIC Clearinghouse. Then it hit me. Harper Collins’ move is not a stupid move, it is an unrecognized call for help (mostly unrecognized by Harper Collins). They have no idea how to work in this new open digital environment. They had a business model, skill set, and focus on books. Their customers are changing, the technology is changing, and the future is anything but clear In essence, today’s publishers are the librarians of 5 or 10 years ago.

Expiring ebooks is our equivalent of 300 item long lists of licensed databases, web links organized by Dewey, OPACs that are only open on the web from 9-5 (I’m looking at you Library of Congress). Kindle, Nooks, and iBooks are their Google – the trendy new cool kid that gets the attention, and frankly does one part of their jobs really well. The part the publishers (and librarians used to) see as central.

We shouldn’t be angry with publishers – we should help them see there is life in the digital frontier – that they can be more than their inventory. Just like us. And like us it doesn’t have to be for free (libraries are not free – members pay for them with tuition, taxes, budget lines and so on).

We need to show them that a model of cash for an item derived from artificial scarcity is a short-term business model. The long term is participation and services that helps everyone become a publisher. The value is not in the artifact, digital or analog, but in the knowledge creation process and facilitating it. The value is not in the fact that there is a book, but that that book engages a community. People will pay for the facilitation. Call it editing, production, graphic design, selection, it is all facilitation. The value isn’t in collections it is in memory. It is not in space, but in community gathering. The value isn’t in a website, it’s in what that web site allows you to do. The scarcity they need to be modeling is not in artifacts (titles), but in attention.

Publishers have a hard time ahead. Margins are shrinking, titles are proliferating, and venues to sell their wares are shrinking. eBooks as a concept are quickly disappearing in the face of “the app.” Publishers need to become developers, and community publishers, not gatekeepers, but curators (as we are learning from our museum brethren). To be sure, many publishers are already on this road. From those experimenting with open access, to those producing apps there are folks in publishers that get it. I, for one, hope they make it. I see value in the edited high-production artifact – along side the fan fiction. I see the value in an edited series where the value is in the editor and the contributing authors, not the paper – or digital file.

Librarians we need to help them out. We need to show them how to function in this new world. How libraries are an amazingly valuable physical community presence. After all, when they close the Borders down the street do you see picketers? The only signs I see are 20-30% off. When they close that Blockbusters on the corner do you get angry mobs at city council meetings? That kind of dedication doesn’t come with best sellers, it comes with dedicated professionals who are part of the community and working to improve it. As librarians need to show publishers of all stripes how openness of information helps them. How books are not information – they are tools to learning (about the world and oneself).

And if we can’t show them? Well then I ask librarians – how is tying our future, brand, and business model that has evolved and existed for over 3,000 years to one that is short term, in rapid transition, and ultimately short sighted a good idea? To read some of the blogs and articles you’d think that if the latest Dan Brown novel isn’t available through OverDrive we might as well shutter the doors. Why not go to Dan Brown and talk to him about a publishing platform where he gets 90% of book revenue and his work is guaranteed to be accessible in 100 years? Oh, and by the way marketing opportunities in every city, town, and hamlet in the country.

Of course to do this we will need to build our own publishing platform (OR PARTNER WITH PUBLISHERS WHO SEE THE LONG TERM). The hardware platforms already exists (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc). The distribution network is already there and subsidized by consumers (3G networks, WiFi). Even the standards are there (like Adobe’s ebook standards to make authors feel comfortable). We can even show, over the long term, how a new model of engagement with readers wins over DRM.

In the short term will we be low on Best Sellers? Yup. Will such a system allow for a wide range of quality in published materials? You bet. Will librarians need to work across geographical and organizational borders to get an economy of size? Absolutely.

Is there room in this world for publishers? Amazon? Apple? Barnes & Noble? Yes, but not if they see librarians as the enemy, or seek to protect an ever dwindling profit and market instead of advocating for a better future. You know what MIT Press said when I told them I wanted to co-publish with ACRL? “Great!” You know what they and ACRL said when I told them we’d give away half the book, or slim down the margins to get the cost of the book under $60? “Bring it on”. Know what they both said when I told them we were going to build an App? “How did you do that – we’d like to share?” I know there are more folks like MIT Press and ACRL out there. I see publishers of all stripes that once balked at sharing metadata, now offering full text indexing to vendors.

The next Dan Brown, or Ernest Hemingway, or Dr. Seuss might be in your library right now…what are you doing to help them find their voice in the future? What are doing to become the publisher of your community?

So what’s the action plan?

Stop talking (or forming a committee or doing an environmental scan) and start doing.

Prototype an ebook platform now. Can’t write an app? Do it in PowerPoint as screenshots. Think app, not book. Think social not bed time.

Develop a community centric acquisition policy. Do NOT do this without said community. Every library that is boycotting any publisher better have their community standing right with you. That community should be willing to forego those books in your library and their personal Kindles. Remember that authors are part of that community.

Invite the publishers to play. Know a great publisher? Give them a shout out. All my academic library brethren we need our academic presses on board.

Every dollar you don’t spend with a boycotted publisher ? Pool it together into a field wide innovation fund. $100k, and buy in by library consortia, and vendors and we have an amazing platform in three months. Project Gutenberg? Invited. HathiTrust? Invited. OCLC? Invited. Overdrive? Invited. SerialSolutions? Small Town America? State Library? MIT Press? Our Members? Invited.

Not invited? Annoyed librarians who think libraries have no power. “Publishers/Amazon/Apple/Whomever will never change” they’ll say. Just like Music companies will never get rid of DRM or movie studios will never agree to stream movies. Times change. But not on their own. WE MUST CHANGE THEM! YOU must change them.

One of the first times I presented the mission of librarians as improving society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities a publisher said that it could stand for his organization as well. I agree, but only if we truly share the same commitment to improve society. The same commitment to knowledge and most of all community. A community is not a set of customers. A community is a set of participants and members always learning and always creating, not mindlessly consuming – wallets with a face (or a borrower with a library card).

Librarians it is time for us to serve by innovating and leading!

Posted in Beyond the Bullet Points, New/Participatory Librarianship | 3 Comments

Great Video by the MIT Libraries

Extremely well done video that talks about libraries as communications and scholarship. At the end see how they celebrate not knowing where we are going…understanding that it is a journey of discovery and invention not blueprints. Is you library about invention and discovery of the future?

MIT Tech TV

Posted in Links | 1 Comment

Book Launch Details

Now you’ve seen the teasers, come see the book! We’ll be doing a book launch at this year’s ACRL Conference in Philadelphia! Here are the details:

The Atlas of New Librarianship – Book Launch and Signing

Thursday, March 31, 2011 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Room:
103 C

Program Description
ACRL and MIT are pleased to unveil The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes. The Atlas describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning. Dr. Lankes will say a few words about the Atlas and will be available to sign copies.

Primary Speaker: R. David Lankes, Information Institute of Syracuse

Acrl2011

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship, Publications News | Comments Off

Atlas Flyer

Here is the official flyer for the Atlas with the table of contents for the first part of the Atlas. Click for the PDF (so you can actually read it).

Flyer1B
Flyer2a

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship, Publications News | 3 Comments