“The Mission of Librarians…

… (should they choose to accept it) … Is to Improve Society through Facilitating Knowledge Creation in Their Communities.”

This is the organizing principle of David Lankes’ book, The Atlas for New Librarianship. I suspect it is also the organizing principle of his life, brain, and sock drawer. The man lives librarianship with a passion that is infectious and inspiring. And it makes me embarrassed at my 25-year-old self who had an opportunity to enter the library field but thought, “I don’t really want to be a librarian.” That girl was an idiot.

To be fair to my inner idiot, I was working from a very stereotypical view of librarians that was not uncommon. I imagined that as a librarian I would spend all day doing data entry, filing, and shelving. And while I did love to read, I did not especially relish a future surrounded by books and journals.

Not that there is anything wrong with books and journals. But there is nothing sacred about them either. For a long time now, the best tools for sharing and accessing information and then turning that information into new knowledge were text artifacts like books. They still are great tools. But they are only the tools. And the mission of librarians is not simply to organize the tools.


P.S. — TRUE FACT: I worked at Microsoft during the time period Lankes describes in his opening chapter when discussing how the difference in worldview led Wikipedia to succeed over Encarta. In fact, my Scottish husband was, rather hilariously, hired as an editorial assistant at Encarta to write captions for photos of German castles. He used to go to the library and look them up in Encyclopedia¬†Britannica. :-)

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