Welcome to Library School & Congrats New Grads

A brief post based on my notes for a short speech this week at Dominican GSLIS New Student Orientation and some reflection on the 55 students who graduated from our program last Saturday:

Ranganathan said “the Library is a growing organism.” That evolution continues and you all are starting your graduate library school journey at a perfect time.

I was recently in South Carolina, where I found myself in the hotel bar after a speech for the library school. The bartender was fired up about his brand new iPod Touch. He was running the bar’s music of of it via a cable attached to the sound system, and surfing the Web via the hotel’s wifi. He praised the access to the Web and his apps and held up the shiny new device and said:

” I have the whole world of information in my hand.”

This is the landscape our new students and graduating students are experiencing.  For many – not all, of course – but for many, this ultra-connected world is the norm and new  devices and services enhance it almost daily.

One of my goals as an LIS educator is to prepare my students for a decidedly digital future in libraries. Technology will touch every aspect of library service and operation is some way – big or small – from storytime to book clubs, from research collections to media production studios within the library.

Technology allows us to extend the presence of library service and librarians in ways that Ranganathan and Shera might have only dreamed about. But the most important thing is these technologies allow us to extend our missions of service, stewardship and access in surprisingly human channel.  When technology falls away, it’s not a blog, or a Meebo-embedded staffer, or a Drupal reader’s community, it’s simply a group of people having a conversation.

For our new students – I wish you great success and urge you to be curious and creative with your coursework. Creativity will be a valuable commodity in your future library work. In my LIS701 class, we read Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” in which he suggests one way to free the creative right brain to have new ideas is to occupy the left brain with a task, such as walking a labyrinth. For the last night of class, we met at Oak Park’s First United Church and did just that. Each turn, each pause for reflection, each moment spent in the middle of the maze offered a chance for my students – and me – to consider our semester’s work and the next step. It was a pleasant exercise.

For our most recent grads – I wish you great success with everything you do in libraries. I have high hopes for the innovations and changes our graduates and all new LIS professionals will make. This is an incredible time to be working in libraries. Economic issues force us to be creative and to be vocal advocates for our services. Go forth! Create the future of libraries! I am counting on all of you.