This is Tasha … she is 23 years old! One of my homework supervisors.
I wanted to help people solve problems. I didn’t care about books (well, I did and I do, but this was far from my motivation to go to library school). I already knew I was good with problems, and sharing that ability with others seemed like a no-brainer. This is something I knew long before I knew about participatory librarianship, or Lankes’ New Librarianship, or anything, really. I spent so many years working behind the scenes, and my elevator speech was always something pretty nebulous. “See that thing? I do something which does something which supports something that makes that work.” Not so inspiring …
Participatory librarianship appeals to my activist history—activism and activists enable the community to make better-informed decisions and ultimately change lives. The problems solved this way can be broader, and more important, than anything I ever expected to be involved with.
Of course, all that is focused on my involvement, and not so much community involvement. I haven’t figured out the community involvement piece, especially with respect to where I may end up in Libraryland.
Design seems to an obvious part of this—the design of spaces that encourage participation is really obvious in the images we’ve seen of the DOK center and of other participation-based library spaces (both online and face-to-face). I wouldn’t be surprised if all the examples of participatory rooms/buildings that we see come from Europe and Japan—the lack of real estate for pretty much any purpose in these places forces people to become very creatively efficient with their design and usage of space.
Mathews’ paper designed to inspire library entrepreneurialism made me cringe when I read the title. You may have guessed from earlier reflections that I have a low opinion of things labeled this way: what is identified as entrepreneurial is often not novel at all and is often pretty much useless. Early on, however, this article seemed different: so many of the “what-ifs” identified in the article are already under way and, in my estimation, represent a liberation as much as a liability. There’s a certain ceding of control of resources and that may free the library to focus on the participatory aspects of their service. The key is to get out from managing the things while influencing how these resources are used to enable the community.
So much talk about library entrepreneurialism stays at the 35000-foot level; the most satisfying parts of his paper came near the end. “Real artists ship.” Ultimately, the question becomes one of innovation (and, ultimately, the ability to deliver) in an environment where innovation may not be a real priority.