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236 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s DepArtment oF JustiCe mAp loCAtion E, 6 threAD loCAtion Page 105 sCApe Department of Justice Government Assessment highlights the importance of an example case is Author R. David Lankes Agreement DesCription The following report is based on a series of visits to the Department of Justice (DOJ), February 13–15, 2008. During these visits, several conversations took place among the researcher, librarians, and library clients within different sections of the DOJ and in several DOJ libraries . An initial draft of this report was then provided to the Department for feedback. This revised report briefly outlines the observations in each of these conversations. It attempts to highlight opportunities and provide an outsider’s reaction to these conversations given a narrow window of engagement. The emphasis in all of this is on the ability /role of DOJ librarians to facilitate these conversations. What emerged from the visits was the beginning of a planning process based on participatory librarianship and conversations. Although the principles of participatory librarianship have been used to present an overall vision of library systems (Lankes et al., 2007) and to develop library software (Lankes, 2008) and services, a clear method for planning and evaluating library services holistically has yet to be developed. Although this case does not directly present such a methodology, it does point to one. From the case, the approach would be to: 1. Identify major participatory communities within the service community. 2. Identify and describe the major conversations within and across these communities. 3. Identify the services and resources provided by the library to these conversations (later this needs to be refined into means of facilitation). 4. Look for gaps (where the library could but is not providing facilitation ), dead ends (where the library is providing a service not linked to conversations within a community), and opportunities (where the library could provide service to a community’s conversation but is not). In the case example below, three participatory conversations were identified. Within a key community (legal staff), a high-level conversation was identified (the “life of the law”). A basic mapping was done (figure 1). Certain opportunities to provide better facilitation were identified as well (e.g., the “In Search of” process for lawyers and the extranet for the librarians). Figure 117 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 237 This initial approach was used as part of a strategic retreat process at a small academic library with some success. Although clearly great specificity and data are needed to firm up this planning process, this case study serves as a first step. CAveAts AnD limitAtions Several caveats are important to note. Three days and a handful of focus groups are far from adequate to capture the richness of any organization . The best that can be hoped for are initial observations and to capture broad themes and ideas. Although much of this report is written in an authoritative tone (i.e., making assertions and generalizations ), that is simply a device to prompt further discussion. The idea is to prompt and provoke. This often leads to richer conversation rather than a more cautious and nuanced tone. So although there aren’t many “the research thinks,” “it might be,” or “one would guess” phrases within, they are implied. The initial result of this visit was a chart of the “A Participatory View of the Department of Justice Libraries” in figure 118. This chart seeks to capture the different conversations occurring from the library perspective. It is far from complete, but it attempts to capture broad areas of understanding. pArtiCipAtory Communities There appears to be four major participatory communities. These communities represent groups of people talking about similar things in similar fashions. They share processes and concerns. Certainly within the communities there are a lot of different voices with different roles (lawyers, managers, paralegals). Also, there are certainly communities not addressed in the visit (policymakers, IT, etc.). Why bother talking about communities? Why not simply use the standard breakdown of library and patrons? Because in a participatory approach, the library’s role is to facilitate communities’ conversations. They must understand the dynamics of the communities regardless of whether those interactions are with the library. Also, in any attempt to increase the quality of participation (conversations) within the communities, and thus improve the knowledge of these communities...


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