Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Takes a community to raise a library. It takes a library to raise a community

If the Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians were specifically meant as a volley back to the The Taiga 4 Provocative Statements, then I think they are a brilliant response to the fear-mongering that is trying to be passed off as leadership.

If otherwise, well, to be honest, I'm not that crazy about the Darien Statements. But that's okay. Those aren't my statements on The (One Big?) Library and Librarians. Its theirs.

But I do want to start a thought of mine from their statement on the purpose of the library. "The purpose of The Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization."

Now saving civilization might be a good idea but I would leave that job up to superheroes and those working towards nuclear nonproliferation. I haven't properly worked out my own idea of The Library's purpose but if I did, it would definitely contain these two words: share and community.

Share is the most important word. We don't sell the stuff we collect. We share it.

And when I use the word community I mean, a group of people with a common interest. So that could be a group of graduate students in a lab or a small town.

I've been thinking about communities and small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens quite a bit lately. Sometimes its been in a library context but more often than not its been more about local politics and the environment. And recently, I've been re-visiting this paraphrased thought of one of my heroes, teacher Vivian Gussin Paley:

the "work" of school is not to learn the numbers and letters as quickly as possible, but to learn to come together and build a community.

Now that's certainly wasn't the purpose of the schools that I attended or have worked for. But what if it was? How would we do things differently? It just goes to show how its not a bad idea to go back and rethink what's the purpose of what you're doing.

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