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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Next Librarian of Congress and Why We All Need to Care

As many of you know, a few months ago, the Librarian of Congress, James Billington announced his retirement as of Jan 1, 2016. But some of you may not know that last Friday, he announced that he now is retiring as of TOMORROW!

I was going to wait to post about the search for the next Librarian of Congress and how important it is to all American library workers in November, after my Halloween rush and after some more news had come out about possible replacements; however, since the timeline just got seriously hijjacked, I have pushed this post up in the schedule* to let you know how you can educate yourself on the #nextLOC right now.

First, I need to address the biggest issue here and that has to do with you, my readers.  Many of you are probably wondering why this blog devoted to "training library workers to help leisure readers" needs to bother with a post about the Librarian of Congress.  Well, the short answer I have for you is that whether or not you think the LOC has anything to do with your life in a local library is not the issue here.  The issue is that the job of the symbolic head of all of America's libraries-- a job appointed by the President of the United States-- is open. You are a library worker. You owe it to yourself and your community to understand what the job actually is and to have a KNOWLEDGEABLE opinion about how that job should be done. You will be asked by someone about your opinion and you owe it to yourself [and the integrity of our profession] to have a response that is based on the facts.

If we--America's library workers-- cannot articulate who should have that job and what the job should actually entail, how can we expect anyone else to understand, let alone expect these outsiders to choose the correct type of person for the job.

Now, I am not that person to help you understand the issue.  But like a good librarian, I have worked to find the resources you need to become knowledgeable on this issue. And now I am directing all of you, my loyal readers, to do two things in the next few days.

  • Take 1 hour out of your life [you can do it on work time] to listen to Jessamyn West on Circulating Ideas articulate the basic issues involved here. I can honestly say that after listening myself a few weeks ago I  was completely misguided on the issue both of what skills and experience the best Librarian of Congress candidates should have. I had no idea about the necessary changes that new person needs to make to the institution itself. Jessamyn also had some insight to share into the process of choosing the #nextLOC. Every minute of that interview is worthwhile to anyone who works in the library world.
  • Jessamyn has created this fantastic website devoted solely to compiling all of the information about the issue. After listening, go here and dig deeper about the things you want to know more about.The website even gives you ways to get involved in the conversation.

I am serious about spending just a little bit of time listening to that podcast and looking over the website. This is going to become the single biggest library issue over the next few months. This is going to be a library issue that is discussed in all media.  We need to be on the front lines articulating an educated opinion about not only who the job will go to, but also what the LOC should be as an institution.

Please, if you are someone who heads my advice on helping leisure readers, trust me and take this advice too.

I promise I will return tomorrow with regularly scheduled RA specific programming.

*Unfortunately due to the already double booked Monday I had planned for yesterday, this had to wait until today.

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