By: Diane Stirling
The elements known to work to create great libraries—a commitment to learning, a focus beyond functions, co-owning the library with the community—are detailed in a newly published book by School of Information Studies Professor R. David Lankes.
Titled, Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today’s Complex World, the book is intended “to help fantastic librarians take their case to those who oversee the library…to do a better job advocating the power of libraries to our communities, and bringing those communities into the conversation of our future,” Lankes said. Its focus is on how, even though libraries have existed for millennia, many today question their role, and whether in today’s digital and electronically-connected world, traditional repositories for books in towns, colleges, and schools are even still necessary.
Lankes is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse.
He writes about what can be expected from a library and argues that, to thrive, communities need libraries that go beyond bricks and mortar and beyond books and literature. “We need to expect more out of our libraries. They should be places of learning and advocates for our communities in terms of privacy, intellectual property, and economic development. [The book] is a rallying call to communities to raise the bar, and their expectations, for great libraries,” he said.
In a condensed form written for the general reader, the book offers Lankes’ views of what future librarianship can be. “Today’s librarians are using the lessons learned over that nearly 3,000-year history to forge a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and community. They are taking advantage of the technological leaps of today to empower our communities to improve…and are radical positive change agents in our classrooms, boardrooms, and legislative chambers. They built the web before we called it the web [and] were crowdsourcing knowledge and searching through mountains of information before Google, before Facebook, and even before indoor plumbing. Today’s new librarians are not threatened or made obsolete by the Net. They are pushing the Net forward and shaping the world around you—often without your notice,” he contends.
Professor Lankes is known as a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society. He researches how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. He has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation including at the National Academies. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada, the Harvard School of Education, and the first fellow of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.
His other 2012 book, The Atlas of New Librarianship, won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. Lankes’ past projects include the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, the Gateway to Education Materials, AskERIC and the Virtual Reference Desk. Lankes’ more recent work involves how participatory concepts can reshape libraries and credibility.
The book is available for purchase through Createspace and Amazon.com; and the ebook version can be accessed via Smashwords. Information about the book is on Lankes’ blog at: http://www.DavidLankes.org.