Evolution of the Social Compact
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264 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s evolution oF the soCiAl CompACt mAp loCAtion F, G, 6 threAD loCAtion Page 29 sCApe Creating a New Social Compact Evolution of the Social Compact results in Author Elizabeth Gall Figure 130 Agreement DesCription The community a library serves, and society as a whole, are quickly changing. Ranganathan’s 5th law of librarianship states that the library is a growing organism. Because both the library and its surroundings are changing, the relationship between them is also in a constant state of flux. As the social compact among the library, librarians, and members evolves, libraries and librarians must constantly reevaluate their missions. Before considering the mission statements, however, we must first examine how the social compact has changed and how that change has affected members’ expectations of the library and librarians. The already prevalent and still-growing dependency on technology has had a large impact on the social compact among the library, librarians, and members. This has presented libraries and librarians with the opportunity to effect change as they attempt to work within the new social compact. The challenge comes not in recognizing the need for change but in determining the best way to forge ahead. Libraries and librarians have different mission statements. However, neither can be effective unless it is compatible with the other. Librarians have informally operated within the new social compact as it has evolved with the changing needs of members. However, the current mission statements of the libraries in which they function limit them. It is much easier to change the mission statement of the librarian than that of the library because it is less formal and subject to fewer obstacles. Where a library mission statement is subject to discussion and approval by boards, committees, librarians, members, and so on, a librarian ’s mission statement is much more personal. As librarians interact with patrons in their daily lives, they are exposed to changes in the social compact as they occur. Once they have learned of the changes, librarians can immediately refocus their mission statements to meet them. A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 265 relAteD ArtiFACts Atkinson, R. (2004). The acquisitions librarian as change agent in the transition to the electronic library. Library Resources & Technical Services, 48(3), 216–226. [Reprinted from Library Resources & Technical Services, 36(1), January 1992.] Bales, S. N. (1998). Technology and tradition: The future’s in the balance. American Libraries, 29(6), 82–83+. Bertot, J. C., McClure, C. R., & Jaeger, P. T. (2008). The impacts of free public internet access on public library patrons and communities. The Library Quarterly, 78(3). Chowdhury, G., Poulter, A., & McMenemy, D. (2006). Public library 2.0: Towards a new mission for public libraries as a “network of community knowledge.” Online Information Review, 30(4), 454–460. Cunningham, J., & Stoffel, B. (2004). The campus web portal: Is there a channel for the library? College & Undergraduate Libraries, 11(1), 25–31. Hsiung L. (2007). Expanding the role of the electronic resources (ER) librarian in the hybrid library. Collection Management, 32(1/2), 31–47. Janes, J. (2003). The next best thing to being there. American Libraries, 34(9), 70. Mielke, L. (1995). Short-range planning for turbulent times. American Libraries, 26, 905–906. Svenningsen, K., & Cherepon, L. (1998). Revisiting library mission statements in the era of technology. Collection Building, 17(1), 16–19. Libraries, in contrast, must go through an official process to change their mission statement. I have never heard of a library that allowed patrons, librarians, or administrators to access and edit its mission statement in real time. Even as the library adjusts to meet the community’s changing needs by increasing online services, adding computers with Internet access, developing new programming, and so on, it is unlikely that the mission statement has been amended to reflect these changes. By the time the mission statement has been changed, it is likely that a whole new social compact will have developed . One could argue that a broad, theoretical mission statement would give both librarians and libraries room to adapt to new social compacts as they form because it imposes few limits. Conversely, a broad, generalized mission statement might cause confusion and inhibit growth because it does not give enough direction. A more specific, detailed mission statement carries its own set of...



Subject Headings

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