Category Archives: Librarians, Libraries & the Profession

News: Transformative Social Engagement and the Salzburg Curriculum

Salzburg curriculum post wordleOn October 19th, 2011 a group of library and museum innovators from over 31 countries gathered in Salzburg, Austria to discuss “Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture.” During the event co-sponsored by the Salzburg Global Seminar and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, one of the discussion groups developed recommendations for skills needed by librarians and museum professionals in today’s connected and participatory world.

The working group identified the isolation of library skills from museum and other professional skill sets as a weakness, and instead developed a framework for a comprehensive and joint library/museum curriculum. The group focused on the concepts, knowledge, and processes that librarians and museum professionals need to understand and know, realizing that participatory culture has ramifications both for traditional functions and emerging skills. The initial framework was an overview because of limited time, but many seminar participants, including major library science programs and museum continuing education coordinators pledged to use it. By better developing the framework with the original Salzburg participants and by opening the conversation to the entire library and museum worlds, it is proposed that the two systems of education and continuing education will experience positive and possibly unexpected synergistic benefits.

There are benefits to breaking down barriers between these two professions. Participatory culture requires libraries and cultural institutions to be innovative in the ways that they connect with the communities that they serve, not just through the use of technology, but in daily interactions as well. People are invited to explore The Salzburg Curriculum in further detail via the new website. Here are a few highlights:

Transformative Social Engagement

Transformative social engagement is the most essential skill set for information professionals to develop. Most institutions want to positively contribute to the community they serve, but to truly do so requires establishing connections with the community and maintaining those connections with things like activism, advocacy, and relevant public programming.


Using technology to engage with a community is essential. It is important for information professionals to teach people how to use new technologies, but it’s equally important for professionals to be able to co-learn and co-build with their community.

Management for Participation (Professional Competencies)

Institutions need to have clear goals and be aware of long-term sustainability. Big ideas are a welcome and necessary part of new librarianship, but there must be teamwork to put those big ideas into motion and sustain them. A strong infrastructure within an institution is necessary, but so are strong partnerships with the community. Another important part of participatory culture is teaching others the necessary skills to see projects through so that projects can remain in capable hands.

Asset Management

Asset management is more than just adding items to a collection. Participatory culture requires that institutions remain in constant dialogue with their community to assess what is important to a community and when it’s important to a community. It goes beyond collecting things like books or artifacts and also considers what other resources a community needs.

Cultural Skills

The concept of “culture” can be defined in many ways, ranging from the demographics of the community an institution serves to the environment an institution wishes to create. Developing communication skills is imperative and can impact everything from the way a community perceives the institution (language barriers, etc.) to the types of literacies the institution considers in its programming (such as visual learning vs. hands-on learning).

Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation

Museums and libraries are dynamic spaces where people go to learn and build. Innovation is needed in order to build and maintain strong community ties.

The Salzburg Curriculum is just the beginning. We invite everyone to visit the website and contribute to the conversation!

The working group and initial IMLS grant was lead by Dr. R. David Lankes, Syracuse University, School of Information Studies. The dissemination phase is being lead by Dr. Michael Stephens, San Jose State University, School of Library & Information Science. Melissa Arjona serves as research assistant and site architect.

Please visit the site to explore these ideas and see videos from R. David Lankes:

How Traverse City Really “Uses” Its Library



Nice news story about my home library:

by Lynn Geiger

“I love looking at data of all kinds, but not everyone does,” says TADL Director Metta Landsdale of the system that offers data and insight into material circulation, library use and collection size. “The dashboard presents what I believe is excellent TADL performance in a way that more and more people can absorb and appreciate.”

In addition to those nearly 290,000 adult books, 222,658 children’s books have been checked out in 2013, along with 205,484 movies, 109,578 albums, 17,217 magazines, 31,492 audiobooks and even 2,456 puppets. TC’s most popular read right now, according to circulation figures? First Sight by Danielle Steele. Movie? The James Bond thriller Skyfall. Music? 21 by Adele.

All the data can be viewed district-wide or by each of the six individual libraries. “That allows our champions and our critics to see the value of the different community libraries and how they each serve their communities differently,” adds Lansdale.

Think you see more people in front of a computer than a book when you’ve been at the library lately?

Here’s what the numbers say: 65,504 public computing sessions so far in 2013 by 9,786 users totaling 55,541 hours district-wide. Additionally, it has recorded 76,208 wireless sessions by 14,340 unique devices.

Lansdale says the dashboard’s graphs detailing computer and wireless usage by week illustrate “the pressure on public libraries for continual improvement of broadband to support our visitors with mobile devices and also how the use of public computers, although still strong, is declining.”

Scott Morey, assistant director of technology for TADL, is part of the team that launched the statistical dashboard, created by using common, open-source, free software.

“The interesting thing is we got so many calls and emails from people – from as far away as Spain and Greece – wanting to know how we did it,” Morey says. So the library has published its “how to” for all to see here

Follow-up: A New Librarian’s Promise – A TTW Guest Post by Carlie Graham

Note from Michael: Carlie will be a Participatory Learning Guide for the #hyperlibMOOC this fall. She was a WISE student in my classes at SJSU SLIS. Her ideas below resonate with my teaching and views. Enjoy…


As a recent LIS graduate I really don’t feel different, but looking back I think I had an exponential increase in library and life knowledge throughout the second half of my graduate degree. It’s been almost a year since I shared the promises of a then future librarian, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to share those of a new one.

As a new librarian I promise the following to members, colleagues, and to myself that I will:

Stay curious.

Seek out lessons from other industries, related or not. Find everyday examples that could make libraries better.

Stay humble.

Remain open to new ideas and ways of seeing. It’s reassuring to think there’s always someone out there better than me at something—it means I will always learn.


Go beyond connecting people with collections, and move toward connecting people with people, people with ideas, people with communities, and people with creative tools and spaces.

Save people’s time.

Condense, focus, and seek context when sharing ideas. (And those who know me know how many lines I wrote in school for talking in class. This will be a challenge.)

Add value.

That may be adding a quick video capture or screen shot when demonstrating a database, or being mindful of what I share on social media. More holistically, seek out ways to implement services and programs that add value to community members, and measure that value to make iterative improvements.

Prioritize doing awesome things for my community over pondering philosophical musings of the profession.

That means I will do both, but I will put the community first. That also means taking action. Choosing to focus less on pondering the future of libraries does not excuse me from being a righteous project planner.

Let go of perfection.

Being paralyzed by the fear that a new program won’t measure up to an unseeable future library will most definitely lead to stasis. Being informed and brave, trying a new service, measuring outcomes, then making it better will bring about a positive library future. Mistakes happen; own them and learn.

Be nice and work hard.

That might sometimes mean holding back to preserve the esteem and ideas of others and finding a better time to share my perspective, or maybe even not at all. It also might mean quietly fixing someone else’s mistake because I know they were having a tough day instead of pointing out their error. Not everything needs to be a teachable moment.

Find balance.

I want to bring my best self to serving my community.

I know I will stumble and promise to learn from my mistakes. I hope others help me to continue to learn and grow as I begin my career.



Carlie Graham of Carliebrary Consulting is a Knowledge Management Strategist for ITFO, a communications company in Victoria, British Columbia serving global Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that, Carlie was the manager of Music & Media at the University of Victoria for 11 years, responsible for the creation and development of the Library’s Media Commons. You can find her on Twitter @carliebrary and on her blog

Library Card Mosaic


Steve Campion writes:

I was building a library card gallery (scroll down the page: and decided to gather them together in one image.  The mosaic came from that.  I think the gallery is pretty cool.  It shows off the individual cards and the variety and vitality of the public libraries across the state.  85% of the libraries — large and small — contributed cards or images for my gallery/mosaic.

Brian Kenney: How to Land a Library Job

I thoroughly enjoy Brian’s columns at Publisher’s Weekly:

A snip:

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: if you want to be hired as a librarian, get ready to move. Many of you are probably already in a large city or a university town with a library school, plenty of recent graduates, a public library that hasn’t hired anyone since 2008, and academic libraries that are only making part-time appointments. You’re going to need to look nationally, especially to land that first position.

This is tough love—the sort I ignored back in the early 1980s. When I graduated from library school, the national unemployment rate was nearly 11%, and I refused to leave New York City. As a result, I spent two years cobbling together a living as a circulation clerk before I landed a full-time gig. Today, the wait could be even longer.


A personal visit to The Urbana Free Library: A TTW Guest Post by Warren Cheetham

9089638882_16b364b89e_mYesterday morning (Tues 17th June 2013) I found myself at the Urbana Free Library, which is the focus of a lot of attention in library land at the moment. I count it as a professional privilege to have spent two hours with some of the most inspirational public library staff I have ever met. Here I offer a few observations and opinions based on my visit to the library.

I’m travelling through the USA for the next two weeks on a VALA Travel Scholarship, investigating existing and planned projects where fibre-broadband rollouts affect libraries. The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana in Illinois were my first stop, and I met with lots of people from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of IllinoisThe Champaign Public Library, the University’s library serviceUC2B (the Champaign-Urbana broadband company) and The Urbana Free Library. It was a wonderful and inspirational two days.
That morning the local paper’s front page had a story about the library issue creating a lot of news and concern with some people. At the library, I toured the building and spent about an hour speaking with Joel Spencer and Amber Castens, both Adult & Teen Services Librarians. While touring the library, I acknowledged that I had read the news and was aware of the comments about the library. They didn’t shy away from the issue, and it came up briefly several times during our discussion. I didn’t press them on any details, because I was there for other reasons. So we had no in-depth discussion about details, people, decisions, and repercussions.
Two things stood out for me.
1) Joel and Amber are two of the most quietly committed, passionate, caring public library staff I have ever had the privilege to meet. I only spent two hours with them, but you know the feeling you get about people – it’s the way they talked about their jobs, their community, the people they served. You know these people are here for the love of the job, not the pay or conditions.
2) That afternoon as I skimmed some of the ‘news’ and opinions about the issue at Urbana Free Library, I quickly became concerned thatsome decisions, by some people, and the reactions and responses bysome people involved in the library has tarred the whole library staff and service with a similar brush.
We all know that issues are complicated, and it’s easy to oversimplify. It seems this issue has a way to run, so before taking up the pitchforks and racing to the barricades, please take a moment to consider that this is a real workplace, with real people. From my visit, some staff appear to me to be doing a wonderful job delivering some amazing library programs to a community with more than its fair share of challenges. It’s OK to make observations and constructive criticism, but please tread carefully and professionally.
Joel and Amber; Rock on – you’re my new library heroes.

 Warren Cheetham is the Coordinator of Information and Digital Services at CityLibraries Townsville. He has worked in public libraries for twenty-one years, and his professional interests include the application of technology to public libraries, and how to best deliver information services, reader engagement, corporate research services and training to library staff and customers in an online environment.

This post was cross posted at Warren’s blog:

For more about his study tour:

#bookgate FOIA Documents: The Mission of Libraries?

The Smile Politely blog has posted Freedom of Information Act documents related to the Urbana free Library weeding kerfuffle.

A snippet: “She also reminded me that our mission was no longer lifelong learning.”  I am having trouble processing such a statement.  What will happen next?

Also, see:


Because those ideas are out of date? #bookgate


Note: This post has been updated with Carol’s updated percentages!




Please follow LIS professor Carol Tilley for more on what’s been weeded at The Urbana Free Library!

Follow #bookgate too!

Barbara Fister writes about the kerfuffle at Insider Higher Ed:

Weeding Kerfuffle at Urbana Free Library

This blows my mind!

Both UFL staff and the public (who were alarmed at the rapidly emptying shelves) spoke out, but the weeding continued until a library board meeting (and Mayor Laurel Prussing) was called. JP Goguen, a university library employee, was at the meeting, recorded it, and sent the recording to me (the board normally does not record meetings). The conversation at this meeting is alarming. Urbana Free Library’s director, Deb Lissak, made a unilateral decision to weed books in the print collection by date alone. It seems that the Adult Services staff’s expertise and knowledge of the collection was neither consulted nor welcomed. In fact, Anne Phillips, Director of Adult Services, was not even in the country when the project began and was unaware that it was happening at all. 

Bolding mine. Read the comments after the full article.

Here’s another:

The breakdown in communication and lack of transparency in the process is concerning to me. In the comments on both articles it’s reported that resolutions have been initiated. I hope the outcomes are positive: some books returned, better policies, and a much more open and collaborative process of communication.


Follow #bookgate for more: