For the past year, I have had a foggy notion for a new librarian position, but I can’t quite get my mind wrapped around it. So, I am turning to you, TTW community, to help.
Today, I am once again skimming through R. David Lankes’ amazing book The Atlas of New Librarianship. I am looking over page 67 at the idea of librarians as “Publisher of Community.” This may be the closest definition to what I have in mind. Lankes writes,
“I foresee the day in the near future when librarians spend the majority of their time working with community members and community organizations making their content accessible: where acquisitions is a matter of production, not purchasing. The future of libraries (and librarians) is in becoming publishers of the community.”
For me, this is another demonstration that the most powerful ideas are not new ideas. They are ideas you’ve already had but someone else expresses for you. In the future, I want all of the librarians at my library to be publishers of the community. We do this on a smaller scale now, but I would like to see this grow. The best way to make this happen is to devote a position to it so that there is a person taking on the responsibility and providing leadership.
But, what skills should this person develop? What responsibilities should this position carry forward? Considering our library’s organizational structure, this position would work best as an faculty librarian with public service & instructional responsibilities. On our campus, this would align the position with classroom faculty and build connections to the curriculum. Additionally, momentum is building on our campus around mobile technology, lecture capture, cloud-based solutions, and e-textbooks. The timing could be right.
With all of this in mind, I want to find someone who can:
- Capture content: I am thinking digitally (video, images, blog posts, etc), but I am not quite sure. This may also be more along the lines of publishing. But, I am not really thinking about an archivist. Maybe…
- Think like an activist: see my past TTW post
- Act with the sensibility of a journalist: I envision someone who can develop content following a process similar to that of a journalist developing a story. This is someone who can write (create?) information that engages the community in discussion around important issues facing our campus & region.
- Help instill meta-literacy skills in our information literacy program: We have built a solid information literacy program on our campus, but it is largely focused on traditional research skills. While this is still relevant, we have a need to expand our conceptualization of information literacy.
- Work with students and faculty within and outside of the classroom: Ideally, this person would be able to speak the language of the classroom, so she or he would understand assessment, classroom management, and the instructional design process.
I am not sure about a job title: Community Publishing Librarian, Meta-Literacy Librarian, Digital Content Librarian,???
Now, I turn to you TTW readers. I know that I have listed enough ideas here for about five positions, but in this budget environment, it may take several years of advocating before I get one (if any). So, I have to shoehorn these skills together as much as possible, get a job description together, and then start planning.
Maybe you know of job descriptions that could be helpful? Perhaps you can better define needed skills? What am I missing? What should I remove?
Focusing and defining this position will require specific knowledge of our campus and our library, so don’t stress about that. I’ll worry about that. I am looking for ideas, inspiration, and examples. I would love to hear what’s on your mind.
-Post by Troy Swanson, Tame the Web Contributor
Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair & Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.
Two quick disclaimers: 1) This is an academic exercise focusing more on the evolution of librarians and is in no way part of my job responsibilities on my campus. No confidential or HR-related information has been shared in this post. 2) If you are a job seeker (and I know there are many out there), please do not send me your resume. As I mentioned above, we do not have a job opening and probably will not have a job opening in the near future.