Librarian Stockholm Syndrome & the Meaning of Free: Lanier vs Anderson by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

In 2013, ALA Annual was in Chicago, and all of librarianship celebrated the greatness of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a special time, and it was at this conference where I attended LITA’s Top Tech Trends panel. This panel was made up of smart folks all of whom I greatly respect (Gary Price, Aimee Fifarek, Sarah Houghton, Clifford Lynch, Char Booth and Brewster Kahle moderated by Loran Dempsey). The conversation covered many topics that have faded in my memory, but there was a part of it that has remained. Several panelists held up the benefits of free content and the need to break down pricing models. MOOCs, open access, and other forms of free content were glorified as an unstoppable force of empowerment. Panelists called on libraries to set content free. Techno-lust was in the air, and librarians were encouraged to join the disruption. Free was the new thing.

As former Wired editor and author of the book Free: the Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson puts it, “the Web has become the biggest store in history and everything is 100 percent off” (238). (Anderson was not part of the LITA panel, but he would very much support the discussion.)

Interestingly enough, the day before the LITA panel there was another talk by computer scientist turned philosopher Jaron Lanier, who offered a markedly different view. Lanier challenged us to think about the dehumanizing nature of technology and the ways that it is restructuring the economy. For example, social media is playing a big role in destabilizing media outlets. Small and medium news outlets that employed hundreds of thousands of people across the country have been destroyed by Craigslist which employees 100 people and Twitter which employees just over 3000. (An ovely simplified example of a larger trend.) Are we moving toward an economy where 1% of the people run the economy and the other 99% are disposable? Lanier in his book Who Owns the Future asks what happens if the internet destroys more jobs than it creates? What if we live in an economy where a select few profit from the free content created by the rest of us?

Over the last few years, we have been in the midst of a showdown over the meaning of “free”, and most of us haven’t even known it. When I think back to the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, I often think about the the contrasting conversations of the LITA panel and Lanier’s talk, because the contrast presents a challenge to our professional values. On the one hand, we support authors’ (and other creators’) right to make money from their creations, and on the other, we support open access and free information. These competing values have been with us for many decades, but their implications may be more acute. For instance, libraries offering OverDrive to patrons, and then OverDrive making patron data available to Amazon and/or Adobe would be the exact kind of problem Lanier would find disconcerting. The community building, creativity, and learning that occurs within our libraries could be reduced into a mass of data given away to companies in the name of better marketing. At the same time, Chris Anderson would argue that this is how “free” works in the new economy. We trade data for access. No biggie.

Libraries are stuck somewhere between Lanier and Anderson. In his book You Are Not a Gadget, Lanier discusses “journalistic Stockholm syndrome” where newspapers promote the very free services that are destroying news media. I wonder if there is a librarian Stockholm syndrome where libraries are promoting free services that are destroying communities? But at the same time, how can we not?

Troy SwansonTroy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the co-editor of the recent book from ACRL, Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think About Information. You can follow him on Twitter at@t_swanson.


Kickstarter for Circulating Ideas Podcast: Recirculated for Transcripts (by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson)

I am a big fan of the Circulating Ideas podcast. Steve does a great job of enriching the discussions within our profession. Thus, I wanted to share info about his Kickstarter. Help out if you can!

Circulating Ideas began as a podcast to share the innovative ideas and projects that librarians are creating to keep libraries vibrant and relevant in the 21st century. The show has spanned more than 60 hours of content with more than 100 librarians and library supporters and now I’d love to do more to make the show’s content more accessible and searchable. This Kickstarter campaign will allow for the transcription of the show’s content which will be made available for free on the website and as a DRM-free ebook.

Recirculated : Circulating Ideas Transcripts

Thanks Alaska Library Association!



Thanks to the Alaska Library Association for the invitation and warm welcome to Juneau last week. I was honored to keynote the conference and spend time with the incredibly dedicated Alaskan librarians.

I was also able to break away for the afternoon and hike around the Mendenhall Glacier. It was stunning!

Slide downloads:

Smaller Download: (30MB)

BIG download: (300MB – why does Keynote create such huge PDFs?)

On encouraging the heart…

On encouraging the heart…. This is important as we move into a more emotionally rich, experience-based world. Our networks enable us to extend the heart across cyberspace. User-centered planning, engaging and exciting creativity-focused spaces, and opportunities to follow one’s curiosity wherever it may lead are all part of the heart of libraries. The library should encourage the heart.

The Hyperlinked Library word cloud by Fall 2014 #hyperlib student Sandy Chauvin.


Never Going Back Again: by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke

When people ask me why I became a librarian, I offer them a two-part story. First, it’s so I could get married to my wife Haley. Her mom (who is an amazing librarian doing great things) told me that I would make a great librarian. Being that I really wanted to get married to her daughter, I took her recommendation and here I am today. The second part of the story was simply because of the fact that being a librarian allowed me to combine everything that I wanted in my life into a career: the opportunity to do really awesome and unique things for my community. I got into this to create and implement library programs. In 2007-2008, the teen community was where the most exciting and innovating library programming. My idea of what a public library should be doing for their communities and the what teens wanted from their library went together like peanut butter and jelly.

2008. Clarion Free Library. Clarion, PA.
The beginning. 2008. Clarion Free Library. Clarion, PA.

Over the next five or so years, my title was Teen Librarian but in all seriousness my role was Teen Programmer. My job was to make the library an exciting and worthwhile place for ages 12-18. We hung out in libraries. I organized some really cool programs and the teens seemed to dig them. I loved my job and the communities that I served, but I wanted to grow. I had ideas about how libraries could grow and better serve not just teens but all age groups in the community. I knew that I couldn’t be just a teen librarian anymore.

Growth. 2014.
Growth. 2014.

I came to the Chattanooga Public Library in 2014 to grow as a person and as a librarian. I have done both very much so. Inspired by my co-workers, over the past two years I’ve dove more and more into library management and planning. I schedule and supervise staff, I get the payroll into the HR Department, I help write grants and budget proposals. I spend a lot less of my time working directly with the public and even less of my time being a teen programmer.  It’s a pretty radical shift from why I got into libraries in the first place, but I enjoy it very much.  At the core, my work is still directed at doing awesome and unique things for my community. Seeing that just requires you to look at it with a new pair of glasses. Library work is all about people.

Megan Emery as the Joker. A pretty typical library day.
Megan Emery as the Joker. A pretty typical library day. Photo by Rickie Blevins.

Every day I get a chance to look at the amazing work that Megan Emery is doing with the youth community at the Chattanooga Public Library. I see the direct connection she has with the community and in head and in my heart I think to myself, “wow, I wish I was back there doing just that.” But as the title of this post and Lindsey Buckingham say, I’m “never going back again.”  I’ve grown and my roles have changed. My work now is to support the people who not only use the library but also help make it a beautiful and inspiring place for the community. If that means signing timesheets, scheduling staff, and focusing more on the back-of-the-house stuff that the public may never see, so be it. Library work is all about people; the people in your community AND the people you share your work experience with. I may miss being a teen programmer from time to time but as long as I can continue to help people, my job as a librarian is not finished.

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Thanks Ontario Library Association

I am back from three great days in Toronto. Thanks to all at the Ontario Library Conference for such a wonderful conference experience. It was nice to see friends and colleagues and talk with the librarians from all over Ontario.

My slides are from the two presentations are here:

January 29: Hyperlinked Learning Experiences at Libraries: MOOCs & Beyond

January 30: MOOCs for Librarians: Key Takeaways from Two Large Scale Professional Development Courses

Internet Librarian International 2015 Call for Speakers

Dynamic disruption: transforming the library
Submissions deadline 15 April 2015

Val Skelton
Programme Director
Katherine Allen 
Conference Director

Information Today invites you to submit your presentation ideas for this year’s Internet Librarian International (ILI) – the fast-growing innovation and technology conference that attracts hundreds of global library and information professionals each year.

We are seeking innovative case studies and discussions on the ideas, strategies and practical implementations that are helping you make a difference to your organisations, clients and communities.

ILI is all about the exchange of ideas, knowledge and experience and this year we will also be exploring the ‘big questions’ which challenge libraries and information professionals – who are we, and what are we for?

Which new technologies, services and business models are the most appropriate now, and where should we focus our attentions next? What changes can we make to ensure our communities thrive? How do we deliver ‘constant innovation’? How can we meet the often unexpressed needs of our customers?

We are also looking for your ideas for the X-Track – an informal space for hands-on interactive activities.

The full Call for Speakers is available here

As always, we welcome contributions from all types of libraries and info pros – public, academic, government, national or commercial – as well as those working outside a ‘traditional’ library setting.

This year’s Call for Speakers has 6 main categories:

  • Innovative technologies, tools and apps 
  • Latest developments in search and discovery 
  • Cutting edge services – new structures, new roles, new ideas 
  • Transforming engagement – new ways to influence 
  • Innovations in content – creation, collaboration, copyright and co-operation 
  • X-Track experiences and ideas 
  • PLUS workshops 

But this is just a summary of our focus; read more detail and suggestions here.

We’re looking for a range of presentation formats, including:

  • 30-minute scene-setting themed papers
  • 15-minute case study presentations
  • X-Track experiences and volunteers
  • Workshop leaders
  • Panellists

The submissions deadline is 10 April 2015, but don’t delay your submission until then.
Now’s the time to share your expertise, and be a part of this influential and forward-thinking event –
 Submit today.

Upcoming Presentations Winter 2015

January 29: Hyperlinked Learning Experiences at Libraries: MOOCs & Beyond. Ontario Library Association, Toronto, Ontario.

January 30: MOOCs for Librarians: Key Takeaways from Two Large Scale Professional Development Courses, Ontario Library Association, Toronto, Ontario.

February 27, 2015: Keynote – Learning Everywhere: Transformative Power of Hyperlinked Libraries, Alaska Library Association Conference, Juneau, Alaska.


Cosplay, Comics and Geek Culture in Libraries Site

Don’t miss this new venture from Ellyssa Kroski and a great group of writers. It’s a great way to explore some of the ways libraries are reaching out to fan communities of all kinds.

Welcome to Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries! This is an exciting time for geeks of all kinds to be involved with libraries as today’s savvy libraries have begun to embrace new ways to engage library patrons such as fandom events, comic book and graphic novel collections, comic cons, cosplay events, and more. 

The intersection of these interests with libraries is a perfect match as libraries are striving to develop entertaining and educational new programs and services that will appeal to not only children but young adults as well as “kids at heart” of all ages. And these new programs and resources fit well with the interests of cosplayers who can utilize the equipment in library makerspaces such as 3D printers and sewing machines to create many of their props and costume pieces, as well as comics fans who can come to the library to read comics and graphic novel collections, video and board game enthusiasts who attend library gaming events, and geeks of all types who are drawn to “nerd nights”, Dr. Who marathons, and Harry Potter socials, etc.

Office Hours: It’s About Time

And my last column of 2014 – for got to post!

Have you said this in a meeting or a discussion with a colleague? Has this rolled off the tongue when confronted with an unexpected change, a new technology, or another initiative?

Many of us are stretched to our limits. I applaud the folks I meet who have absorbed more and more duties as staffing patterns have changed. Just recently, at a meeting of the Council of State Library Agencies in the Northeast in Cape May, NJ, I dined with librarians who were wearing many hats in their evolving institutions and working hard to meet the needs of the agencies they serve.

However, I bristle when I hear the “no time” response, because sometimes I think it’s an excuse. It’s a catch-all phrase to sidestep learning something new, improving processes, or making a needed but oh-so-scary change. It leads me to ask a question in response: What do you actually make time for?

Click through to read the comments – some heated discussion ensued!

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens