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Let's not defend ourselves into a corner, okay?

This blew up all over twitter a few months ago and one of my favourite public intellectuals (Cory Doctorow) helped chop this guy down in what, at first, seems like a very satisfying manner, but, underneath all that,  my contrarian worry-wart makes me start to ask questions about how the library-world responds to this kind of criticism.

Libraries for the past or for the future

We visited several libraries along the way during Cycling for Libraries. At many of these stops, the library staff greeted us and graciously provided some refreshments and often a tour of their library (not to mention use of the bathrooms). There were a few interesting themes that emerged for me during these visits. Some of the libraries that left an impression on me. 


Barcode reader and PIN pad for library entry

At Greve Bibliotek in Greve, just outside of Copenhagen, this suburban public library branch had a gaming corner ( See photos) with game consoles and big screen for group gaming. It also had a quiet reading lounge in the back of the quiet stacks where they piped in classical music to dissuade the groups of teens who had been gathering there and disrupting the use of the library by others. It was a curious juxtaposition and the librarian acknowledged that they were struggling to balance between welcoming teens and curbing disruptive behaviour. The balancing act of welcoming all users is certainly something I can recognize in our libraries, too. In general it is a bright, welcoming space with modern furniture and colour coded stacks to help those for whom classification is a bit of a mystery.

 Two days later, in the pleasant town of Præstø we stopped to see their "open" library. It's a very nice looking branch of the Vordingborg Municipal library system and the crazy thing is, patrons let themselves in. You use your barcode and pin to get in (see photo)! There are self serve check-in and check-out , lots of public inet computers, and open doors that lead to a very nice lawn out back. A separate desk for "citizen" services staffed for some hours each week. Oh, and, there are surveillance cameras.   

Cycling for Libraries: Copenhagen to Berlin

In a few days I fly off to Cycling for Libraries. An independent “unconference” in the shape of a bicycle tour starting from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany May 28. –June 6. 2011. There will be two days of wrap-up seminars in Berlin on the 6th & 7th of June

The purpose of the Cycling for libraries is to gather a group of 100 library professionals all around the world together to cycle a total of approximately 650 kilometers and to discuss the strategic issues of the library field in seminars along the route. The event starts at the Danish National Library courtyard, and it ends at the 100th Deutsche Bibliothekartag! (The German Library Conference).

Themes for the Conference (both during the ride and at the Seminars in Rostock and Berlin) are: Communicating to customers, Extending knowledge and skills, What the library can offer to the society, Out of "hushing and silence": Library as a public place, Library as an export product, Volunteering in the library, Mobile libraries, Library Lovers' Best Practices, How to Communicate with library users, Extending the Knowledge and Skills, What the libraries offer can to societies surrounding them, Open your data, When libraries are needed...
While I am attending as an individual professional without formal support from my library, I am receive amazing support and fundraising from library colleagues throughout out our system.
It will be lots of fun and I'll have lots of stories to tell. Stay tuned.  

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All about knowledge and information and digital tools. Lots of new ideas. Some are even good ones.
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