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Facilitating
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t h r e a d s 65 FaciLitating The librarian must be the librarian militant before he can be the librarian triumphant. —Melvil Dewey the Mission oF Librarians is to iMprove society through FaciLitating KnowLedge creation in their coMMunities As always, our Thread begins with the mission of librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities . But what do I mean by “facilitate knowledge creation”? We know from the previous Thread that it has something to do with conversations, but I need to be much more specific. Where the “Mission ” Thread was broad and the “Knowledge” Thread was conceptually specific, this Thread begins to transform the concept and mission into the applied. At least as applied as possible because the ultimate specifics and shapes of services will be unique and negotiated with your community. This Thread revolves around four means of facilitation: access, knowledge, environment, and motivation. At this point, think of it as getting people to the conversation, making sure they know what is being discussed, making sure they feel safe to be part of the conversation , and finding the right encouragement for them to engage in the conversation. Before we begin with the specifics, I need to make clear one guiding principle that winds throughout facilitation, and indeed the entire Atlas: True facilitation means shared ownership. true FaciLitation Means shared ownership I could have saved this agreement for the big soaring rhetoric at the end of the Thread, but it is too important to wait. This Atlas is all about you, the librarian. However, your ultimate measure of success comes not from you, or from me, but from the success of your members . You are in good company. Just as doctors must be evaluated by the success of their patients and lawyers their clients, the nature of our profession is ultimately one of service. This means members and librarians are true partners, both with a stake in the outcome of a knowledge endeavor. Just as we share in the successes, responsibilities, and failures of our members, we must cede some of our own responsibilities to the members as well. As in a conversation, when you must stop and listen, thus sharing control of the conversation, so too must we allow our services to listen, that is, be influenced by our members. Doing so not only flows from our concepts, it builds trust and ultimately builds the relationship necessary for a new compact with our communities. Allow me to demonstrate this with an example already in practice today. I mentioned a project in the “Mission” Thread where a group of researchers worked with a large urban library to create a digital learning space. In the course of those conversations, a researcher called the public library a “public space.” I corrected her. The public library, I said, is a civic space. What is the distinction? A public space is not truly owned. It is an open space. Things in the public domain, for example , are free to use and reproduce. A civic space, on the other hand, is a regulated space on behalf of the public. That means it is beholden to a whole raft of policy and law. A group can gather in a public space. They have to have permission to do so in a civic space, and that permission must be given in an equitable and nondiscriminatory way. Why do I bring this up? It is an existing example of a partnership between member and librarian. Members give the public library money and space, but they also insist on some conditions (law and policy). It is a jointly owned enterprise. What is obvious and regulated in the civic sphere is also true in other contexts such as academia, where, in most cases, faculty governance puts conditions on the operation of the library and librarians (from tenure to budgets). In schools, teachers and the administration team with school library media specialists to shape the media center . In law firms, law libraries are accountable to partners, and so on. What you must also understand is that this joint ownership process must extend to all the services. This is not about the whole 2.0 language of radical trust, where an organization must be open to online communities for a sort of greater good. “Radical trust” implies first that such a co-owned relationship is radical: It is not. Co-ownership is about the nature of knowledge. As we see throughout all Threads in the Atlas...



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  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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