First, librarians as facilitators, and second, libraries as platforms.
We are given conversation theory, and as such, it is the job of librarians to facilitate and participate in conversations among and between communities. I have never thought of myself as a facilitator, and it will be interesting to see if this changes as a result of the course. Facilitation is, to me, but one form, albeit and important one, of the services that librarians provide communities, and there was a rather intense debate between Lankes and Steve Matthews concerning the roles of power and activism that inevitably come from starting or hosting a conversation. I suspect that we, as a profession, are often more like Matthews' analogy of the DMV clerk than Lankes lets on, yet we are not just agents directed by principals.
The issues of power and activism beg questions in both the traditional and modern senses of the term: Does librarianship have a left-wing bias? Can you be a librarian and not be political?
Here's what Lankes says:
Now, one can be a radical change agent without being liberal, but I am hard-pressed to find an example of a conservative change agent librarian in this course or The Atlas of New Librarianship. It is difficult to envision a scenario in which conversation theory would lead to any other outcome except the one above. In short, Lankes' choice of conversation theory, a critical theory with a constructivist worldview, ensures that this is the outcome. Why are librarians "radical positive change agents?" Because Lankes chose critical theory. Or, conversation theory dictates that librarians facilitate conversations. Ergo, thanks to conversation theory, librarians are radical positive change agents. If X, then X.
So, to the self-identified conservative and/or Republican librarians I know, and yes, they exist, congrats. You are sticking it to The Man while you are at work. How do I know this? Because like conversation theory
|Via The Colbert Report and Memegenerator|
UPDATE: Thanks to the always-excellent Lane Wilkenson and a spirited discussion on twitter, I amend my comments. While librarianship, as Lankes envisions it, has a left-wing bias, I cannot in good faith attribute this to conversation theory. As you were.
|Like Centre Pompidou, the pipes of librarianship need to be on the outside.|
"Information, and access to it, is a powerful leveling tool. By teaching patrons to access information, librarians and other library staff make it possible for patrons from traditionally underserved backgrounds to have the same access to information as more advantaged groups. This equality of opportunity also plays an important role in civil society and democracy." If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here. (source)Libraries as platforms, then, are cradles of democracy, and stewards of cultural heritage, which are explicitly political activities. The grand challenge comes across as less so, with the politics implicit instead.
"The politics of culture never announce themselves as political."
- Stephen Duncombe
Are you ready to be mobilized, fellow left-wing librarians? Are you up for the grand challenge?