søndag, november 14, 2004

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 ...


Blogger Anne Birgit Gran Lindaas said...

You are raising a very important issue – the issue of moving an important debate about the future existence
of libraries, from the private sphere to the public room. This step is necessary to take to be able to participate in “leading” the development in the direction we, as librarians, want, and participate in creating the library of the future. We need to be visible to politicians, users and potential users of our services. We need to tell and show the world we are willing to change the traditional content and meaning of the library – that we have ideas and plans for action to do so! Librarians in Norway have a tradition of keeping opinions and debate on a private level and beeing rather scared of revealing themselves to the rest of the world! Most librarians are women who tend to stay and act in the private sphere, and perhaps have a lack of selfesteem and courage to tell the world what they mean and think, and therefore never get the practice to communicate and express themselves in the public room. Anyway we need to be encouraged to move further and OUT in the public room. And we need to develop a less selfcritical female attitude towards exposing our professional considerations. Writing and publishing through different public channels, as you suggest both in your Post and in an article on your homepage : http://home.hio.no/~tord/afo/arti/publiser2.htm , “Skrivetrapp for tenkende bibliotekarer” = “Wrtingstaircase for thinking librarians”, unquestionably is necessary!

9:58 a.m.  

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