Social & digital
The three day Bergen conference is past. I am impressed by the will to create something new in the Norwegian library environment. A freer, funnier and much more experimental spirit: Californian rather than Lutheran. This was not a big conference: a handful of organizers, a dozen helpers and some fifty ordinary participants. But it was rich and meaningful: three communities - the library people, the electronic literature people and the non-commercial ICT people met and discovered common grounds for action. Since we Norwegians are part of a small social system, meaningful collaboration, strategies and joint action are easy to plan.
I represent the library sector: library school teacher and researcher ; web editor for a new SIG on public library policy. For libraries the participation of international stars like Rheingold and Doctorow was valuable - since we need to see ourselves in an international context. The winds that blow are global.
But concrete local action based on the Norwegian context is essential. In our libraries there is far too much waiting for action from others "that ought to do something" - and far too little self-directed action based on the many possibilities that do exist. I note, in particular:
Librarians can speak out in public about issues, rather than privately (or in small informal groups).
Many more librarians can write about issues, reaching a broader audience and creating a record, rather than just speaking - and being forgotten. Web based fora provide easy tools for writing.
Existing library publications and collective electronic fora (discussion groups, bulletin boards) can be much more active in soliciting contributions and encouraging debates on important issues.
Public discussion of difficult issues - in words and print - is the life blood of democracy. Democratic debate is not a mere expression of personal emotions and material interests. These are present and must be recognized, but the distinguishing characteristic of democratic culture is a commitment to general principles and reasoned argument. Hard to realize - but never abandoned ...
Libnrarians defend these principles with life and soul - now let them practice ...