Librarianship Vision…05.08.09

8 05 2009

librarianship

Below is an excerpt from Wayne Bivens-Tatum’s post On The Vision Thing this week on a unified vision for librarianship from his Academic Librarian blog which is insightful.  I would recommend reading the entire post.

“Somehow today I stumbled upon this commentary by Carl Grant, the president of Ex Libris North America. In it, Grant expresses his disappointment over a lack of leadership or vision for librarianship. ‘As a librarian in the United States, I’m growing more and more upset and outraged about the lack of a national vision for librarianship. Where is our professional leadership in this time of economic crisis? Who is describing a vision that inspires us and that we can support?’ Given the recent ‘Darien Statements‘ and my own occasional ruminations on the subject, there is evidence that some librarians desire a large and meaningful discussion about vision and purpose, and I can certainly understand the frustration Grant feels.

What I’m not so sure about, which I also discussed concerning the ‘Darien Statements,’ is whether there can be such a ‘national vision for librarianship,’because it’s not clear that librarianship is itself a unified field. Grant discusses a Chronicle article calling for a national educational agenda that considers higher education a public good again rather than as a place for states to save money by cutting it to the bone. Grant comments: ‘There are some wonderful messages and ideas in that article that can be applied directly to libraries (frequently, with little more than a word swap).’ I tend to agree, but it’s not clear that ‘librarianship’ as a field is even as coherent as ‘higher education,’ and ‘higher education’ itself verges on incoherence these days if we included Harvard, the University of Phoenix, community college systems, and your local Bible college…

For there to be such a vision, there would have to be some agreement on what it is libraries in theory should do, but what libraries do in practice varies considerably

The goal of the Library or the vision of Librarianship cannot be separated from larger goals of society, and the larger goals that seem to stir people the most are related to education, politics, and economics. Educational institutions are here to teach people and allow them to fulfill their potential as well as shape them into good citizens and productive workers. If there is to be a grand vision, it seems it would have to have this as the goal.

But would a vision like that guide every library and every librarian?…”

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