7 Books For A New Kind Of Library School
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the relevance of library school. It seems to me as if we expect New Zealand library school graduates to know quite a lot about the intricacies of the profession, but there is only so much that can be crammed into a qualification framework that as a result continually lags behind what industry leaders expect from their employees.
What if library school wasn’t about the intricacies of the profession but was explicitly about enabling students to learn, solve problems and lead within the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries and Museum) sector? Getting a handle on the intricacies of the profession would be an outcome of the curriculum rather than the focus. What would a library school curriculum like that look like? Where would you start?
I imagine that each of us would have a different view of what a library school like that would look like and that we would also start from different places. I don’t think a consensus is necessary because sharing and discussing our different perspectives help us negotiate our way through the curriculum of learning, problem solving and leading.
If library school was explicitly about enabling students to learn, solve problems and lead within the GLAM sector, I would start with 7 books that I think would fuse together to form the backbone of library education.
I have chosen a deliberate mix of scholarly, practical, reflective and action-based resources. There were many more I could have included but I wanted to limit the jumping-off point to books that are likely to be read (if only in part), shared, discussed and applied within libraries.
The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes suggests that new librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities. While this tome may not be read in its entirety, the introduction clearly outlines a different way of thinking about the profession; that is librarianship unmoored from cataloguing, books, buildings, and committees.
5 Star Service, One Star Budget: How to Create Magic Moments for Your Customers That Get You Noticed, Remembered, and Referred by Michael Heppell reminds us that delivering five star service is a way of doing things – a mindset – that costs very little or nothing at all. Full of brilliant service ideas, actions and initiatives that are simple, powerful and easy to implement by individuals, teams or the library as a whole.
The Art of Belonging by Hugh Mackay is a semi-fictional group of essays about the social aspects of modern communities. Libraries are not good at surviving in isolation. We rely on communities (in all their various forms) to support and sustain us, and if those communities are to survive and prosper, we must engage with them and nurture them.
A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown attempts to remodel education based on play, innovation and the cultivation of imagination. Whether you agree with the premise or not, it will definitely make you consider how we can foster interest-based learning in library situations.
This is Service Design Thinking: Basics-Tools-Cases by Mark Stickdorn offers a comprehensive list of tools and methods for designing services and illustrates service design thinking through five core principles: user-centred, co-creative, sequencing, evidencing and holistic. From big picture thinking to nitty-gritty details, purposefully designing library services becomes just that little bit easier.
In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini combines scientific scholarship with an engaging style to explain the principles of persuasion that form the psychological foundations of marketing and communication in general. A must-read for any library staff member attempting to change minds.
Don’t Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything by Kio Stark highlights the variety of human learning experiences through 23 inspiring stories from self-taught learners. This is followed by concrete tips and techniques for getting started as an independent learner. A good primer for solving problems that you think are important in libraries.
What books would you include in this list?
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