I like having a mission. I like a solid foundation from which to spring into action and a bright goal toward which to work. The mission that R. David Lankes proposes in his recently published book, The Atlas of New Librarianship is right up my alley. According to Lankes, “the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” If enough librarians and future librarians embrace this mission, libraries will be as unique as the members who frequent them.
I have a quite simple and firm conviction regarding where this mission begins–with people. While the internet is rife with bloggers who call on librarians to employ new technologies and digital databases to remain relevant, I think they miss an important point. We only remain relevant when we understand what makes us relevant to our community at this moment in time. Thoughtfully employing new technologies is important, but not half as important as finding out what the individuals who come to our libraries want and need. When we’ve tuned in to our members, then we can concern ourselves with what technologies and media will best create an environment in which they have the tools they need to create knowledge.
Our solid foundation is our understanding of our community. Our bright goal is to create a safe place for our communities’ individuals to share information and ideas to create understanding, reasoning and philosophy. And, because libraries have been evolving since their inception, our mission is ongoing. It is a mission I gladly accept.