Checking My Privilege

Last year, I vowed to be more aware of how my life is very different from the lives of many in the community I serve through my library work.

I recently read the book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, and it opened my eyes to yet another way that I’m really quite privileged compared to many.

When I completed my Master’s degree and began my job search, my top priority was to get my wife back home. She’d spent several years living away from her family and wanted to be near them again.

Everyone I spoke to for job search advice, every article I read, they all told me that I had to be willing to go where the work was, wherever that happened to be. Librarianship is a highly mobile profession. When I restricted my job search right out of the gate to a fairly narrow region of the country, it went against common wisdom. Some people told me I was making a mistake, narrowing my options too soon. Indeed, I passed over many professional opportunities because they were in the wrong part of the country.

But family was my first priority. Getting my wife back home was the most important thing. Luckily, I found a great job at a great public library, right where we wanted to be.

When I tell people why I did what I did—that I chose to put family first despite the potential risk to my career—many people praise me. For much of my life, there has been a sense that families suffer for our culture’s obsessive focus on work and career. Many people tell me how refreshing it is to see someone living with different values.

Now consider a young man very like Robert Peace:

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The End Of The Library?

I just read this post on TechCrunch:

The End Of The Library by MG Siegler (posted on October 13, 2013)

Obviously, this post is generating huge reactions among some librarians. There’s not a lot for me to add to the discussion on the future of libraries that I didn’t say in my post Another Librarian’s Response to “What’s a Library?” and in my response to Terry Deary when he suggested that libraries are no longer relevant.

In particular:

He doesn’t see our research resources, our literacy initiatives, our job search assistance, our government documents collections, or our social services. He doesn’t see our partnerships with local school systems and cultural institutions. He doesn’t see community use spaces and safe places to for people to hang out. He doesn’t see a champion of informed democracy and self-improvement. He doesn’t see librarians as curators of information, experts to guide people through society’s myriad information resources.

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On Robotic Libraries and Serendipity

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library
The James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University

I just saw this article online today:

Let’s Hope Snøhetta’s New Robotic Library At NC State Isn’t Run By An Evil Super Computer

I think this library is absolutely gorgeous! I really like how peaceful and bright and comfortable it looks inside.

I find this type of robotic technology fascinating. We know that it works – the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago is testament enough to that. Space and storage have been perpetual challenges for libraries for a long, long time. This represents an elegant and cost-effective solution. As one who has long been interested in archival work, I’m excited by the potential this technology has for that field, as well.
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User Centered Design: The New Card Catalog for the Digital Information Age

The Kansas City Public Library just posted a new position: User Centered Design Specialist

I love that we’re doing this! I know that it’s become something of a cliché to talk about UX, but the simple fact of the matter is that user experience and interaction design are only going to become more important as we proceed in our Digital Information Age.

The landscape of information access is undergoing radical evolution. We have a wider variety of information accessing technology than ever before: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, gaming systems – with different operating systems and coding platforms for each. More importantly, these technologies have created a near-infinite variety in points of access – wherever we can carry our devices (and still have signal) we can access information at will.
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Public Libraries as Place – or, Who Inherits the Legacy of Borders?

The Carnegie Corporation recently published the following article:

Today’s Public Libraries: Public Places of Excellence, Education and Innovation

Personally, I think this is the best summation of the value of public libraries I’ve read. I especially appreciate that the author talks about the importance of place in our culture.

Of course, whenever anyone talks about place in conjunction with books & media, it makes me miss Borders. For almost two decades, they managed to be the place for people to hang out and read in most urban areas in this country.

When Borders closed its doors last year, I wrote the following:
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