What can libraries do to instill a lifetime of learning and relearning?

Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World is Flat, had a fantastic op-ed in the New York Times this week that says we need more than intelligence to survive in the 21st century and its economy. In the old days,” Friedman said, “it was assumed that your educational foundation would last your whole lifetime. That is no longer true.” Friedmans goes on to create some new acronyms declaring that we need “P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient).”

I can’t help but think the roles libraries play in these arenas. We’re all about passion, curiosity, and learning. We show it in the storytime we stay up all night preparing for. We show it in the conference presentation we spend weeks preparing for. We show it in the privacy rights we fight for. While these skills come natural some, how do we help instill these skills in our patrons? Our patrons who might be unemployed? Our patrons struggling to find new careers? Our patrons going back to school for the first time in twenty years?

Likewise, how do we help instill passion and curiosity in coworkers who might be hesitant to learn new technologies or new service models?

Friedmans writes in closing that P.Q. and C.Q. are essential to:

…leverage all the newdigital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.

When you think about the pace of change in our world you can see that Friedman is spot on. We can’t go to school for x number of years and say, “That’s it, I’m done.”

Darwin Quote

The world we live in requires constant learning and as libraries we are poised to become the center of lifelong learning in the community. Many of us have already discovered that learning = play + passion. Is it time to pass this message on to our communities? What can we do to teach the people in our communities not only the skills they need to find a job but the skills they need to develop a passion for lifelong learning…to play…to learn? There is no such thing as the 20 or 30 year job anymore–not even in libraries. We must all be prepared to prepare and adapt to the exponential change that technology and global communication brings.

If you want to see more, take a look at my slide deck on 21st century learning.

Stop everything you are doing and read this report: Library Services in the Digital Age

This morning Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new report Library Services in the Digital Age. If you work in libraries this is a must read. Why? Funding for libraries is critical, and one of the keys to funding is community support. To gather community support, you need to know your community.

This report gives insight into what the American public as well as library staff have to say about libraries–what’s important, what’s not important, what needs to change, what can be improved. Filled with statistics as well as quotes from focus groups,it’s going to take me a while to read and process the 80 page report. From scanning the report though a couple of things already jumped out at me.

Libraries matter!

80% of Americans say that it is “very important” to the community for libraries to have librarians available to help people find information they need.

Libraries need to do a better job communicating their products and services to the community.

  • 22% know all or most of the services their libraries offer now
  • 46% know some of what their libraries offer
  • 31% know not much or nothing at all of what their libraries offer

I found it especially interesting to read what the public sees as a priority for libraries compared to what librarians see as a priority. The big question that remains is do those priorities align? More importantly, do the priorities of your library match the priorities of your community?


Close the Library! Book Burning Party

We’ve seen save libraries campaigns with Facebook pages, Twitter campaigns, lemonade stands, zombies, pleas from children, but book burning? I have to say this is one of the most creative and riskiest campaigns I’ve seen yet! I’m curious to see what others think of this campaign in reverse psychology.

What can we learn from this campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • This worked for Troy, Michigan, why?
  • What would the reaction be in your community?
  • Would this work for your library? Why or why not?
  • If you were the director or library board president, what questions would you ask before agreeing to such a bold campaign?
p.s. A big shout out and thank you to Dr. Eric Shouse, one of my professor’s from last year, who shared this link with me.

Change, Hope, Innovate, Adapt

Change is never easy. No matter how much you love or embrace change, it takes a physical and emotional toll. With all the change going on in libraries, it’s important that leadership not only realizes this but also finds ways to help staff cope. In some cases there is grieving that needs to happen. In other cases it’s a matter of finding ways to reduce stress. In all cases communication is paramount both in what the changes are and why the changes are necessary.

Tuesday I’m presenting a webinar to the Tampa Bay Library Consortium on innovating during a time of changes within libraries. In preparation for the workshop I created some images represnting changes and hope for libraries. Feel free to use these for personal or institutional purposes. Just right-click on the image and select copy image or save image. You can also create your own at obamicon.me.





















I get kids excited about reading! What’s your superpower?

I’ve been trying to get this photo all week and finally got it last night at the book fair. Here’s the school’s media specialist Ms. Reeder (that’s her real name 🙂 ) and my son.

So readers…what’s your superpower?
Ian and Ms. Reeding