Office Hours Extra: The Salzburg Curriculum

The mission of librarians and museum professionals is to foster conversations

that improve society through knowledge exchange & social action

Lifelong learning in & out of formal educational settings
These topics are equally applicable to librarians and museum professionals
These topics must be contextualized

The following values permeate these topics:

  • Openness & transparency
  • Self reflection
  • Collaboration
  • Service
  • Empathy & Respect
  • Continuous Learning/Striving for Excellence (which requires lifelong learning)
  • Creativity and imagination

The Salzburg Global Seminar convenes numerous meetings throughout the year focused on creating solutions  for issues on an international level. In October, I was honored to participate in the session co-sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services “Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture.” Representatives from libraries and museums from over 20 countries came together for five intensive days of discussion and deliberations about the future of cultural institutions in a time of hyper-connected social participation. Working groups formed to provide solutions to the many challenges discussed. As part of my role, I was asked to participate, present about emerging technologies and blog the sessions.

I joined the working group devoted to building the skills of librarians and museum professionals. Lead by Dr. David Lankes, Syracuse University, our group adopted this mission statement: “The mission of librarians and museum professionals is to foster conversations that improve society through knowledge exchange & social action.” We developed several curricular topics/skills to frame our work: Management for Participation, Asset Management, Cultural Skills, Knowledge/Learning/Innovation, Technology, and Transformative Social Engagement. The framing statements are reproduced above this post.


  • crowdsourcing / outreach
  • ability to engage and evolve with technology
  • ability to impart tech to community across generation
  • creating and maintaining on effective virtual presence

The technology focus I recently explored in SJSU SLIS’s Student Research Journal ( )includes the ability to engage and evolve with technology, the ability to impart technology to cross-generational communities, and the ability to create and maintain an effective virtual presence. These should already be part of an LIS student’s educational experience. Evolving as technology does afford information professionals the chance to continuously adapt services, access and collections to the information environments of our constituents. Online presence – what you do, what you say within the professional networks – can carry a lot of weight. See “The Role of Mentoring” for more.

Transformative Social Engagement

  • activism
  • social responsibility
  • critical social analysis
  • public programming – fitting to larger agenda
  • advocacy (organizing communities to action-political, policy)
  • sustainability of societal mission
  • conflict management
  • understanding community needs

Another interesting and dynamic section of the proposed curriculum – transformative social engagement – merits further exploration and discussion.  Under this banner, our group selected a series of thematic areas future LIS grads should experience as part of their preparation for future professional positions. The forthcoming report from the seminar and IMLS will include further details, and Lankes explores the curriculum as well in an video at his blog ( These ideas about transforming communities, however, have already illuminated my planning and content for courses and I wanted to share them.

Fluency in critical social analysis, “participating deeply within the community,” as our group defined it, transcends the more simple notions of community outreach and “going where the users are.” Consider the public librarian participating in community planning or development, or the academic librarian housed full time within their assigned liaison department. The potential for enhanced understanding of the needs of those particular communities is enticing. Stressing this need for participation, Lankes posited “Why showcase culture if we are not enabling conversations about that culture?” as part of his remarks during the seminar.

Related is understanding and participating in advocacy efforts. As part of my new faculty orientation at SJSU, I spent a day with other new professors touring various service agencies in the Bay Area. We were introduced to various initiatives, community service organizations and supporting entities. At a lunch and presentation at the Health Trust, a Silicon Valley organization promoting wellness, I had a realization – everywhere we visited could benefit from the skills, ethics and knowledge of an information professional as a means to extend, support and sustain the success of these organizations.

Both of these areas have something in common: the information professional with these skills may spend more time OUTSIDE library walls than within. This shifting paradigm is one that Lankes illustrates well with his emphasis on a positive future for librarians instead of libraries.

I took many good things away from my work at the Salzburg Global Seminar. I have a new appreciation for the work of museum professionals and cultural institutions. The boundary between what we do in libraries and what they do in museums – especially in a technology-enhanced participatory age – has become less blurred. Imagine a mash up library/museum school of the future where transformative social engagement, cultural memory and knowledge creation/curation techniques are cultivated and taught.

There’s much more to the proposed curriculum.  My hope is this curriculum, began in Salzburg, will inform and guide the evolution of educational programs far and wide.

I am off to the ALISE meeting in Dallas today and thought it would be fitting to publish this post on the way.


Seminar Session:

Full text of the Curriculum: