Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Darien Statements on the Purpose of the Library and Librarians

Thanks to Jennifer Murray of RIPS-SIS for posting to the list-serve a pointer and link to the Darien Statements. These were formulated at a conference called, charmingly, "In the Foothills: A Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries." See link here. The conference was co-sponsored by Darien Library and the Connecticut Library Consortium

...on Thursday, March 26th at the Darien Library for a conversation with John Berry (Editor-at-large, Library Journal, New York, NY) and Kathryn Greenhill (Emerging Technologies Specialist, Murdoch University Library, Perth Western Australia) about revolutionary change, youth, service, and civic responsibility, and the future of libraries.

Come prepared to participate in group discussion following both speakers. In fact, come prepared to help sketch out the role librarians should play in defining the future of libraries.
(from the Foothills link) The participants included public libraries as well as university and community college libraries, library organizations and a few library school representatives (see list here). The Darien statement is optimistic and idealistic, grand and beautiful. It is also covered by a Creative Commons license, which allows me to attribute it properly and reproduce it here, for you:
The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians
Written and endorsed by John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor

The Purpose of the Library

The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.

The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change.

The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence.

Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict.

Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will.

A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library.

The Role of the Library

The Library:

* Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
* Encourages the love of learning.
* Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
* Facilitates human connections.
* Preserves and provides materials.
* Expands capacity for creative expression.
* Inspires and perpetuates hope.

The Role of Librarians


* Are stewards of the Library.
* Connect people with accurate information.
* Assist people in the creation of their human and information networks.
* Select, organize and facilitate creation of content.
* Protect access to content and preserve freedom of information and expression.
* Anticipate, identify and meet the needs of the Library’s community.

The Preservation of the Library

Our methods need to rapidly change to address the profound impact of information technology on the nature of human connection and the transmission and consumption of knowledge.

If the Library is to fulfill its purpose in the future, librarians must commit to a culture of continuous operational change, accept risk and uncertainty as key properties of the profession, and uphold service to the user as our most valuable directive.

As librarians, we must:

* Promote openness, kindness, and transparency among libraries and users.
* Eliminate barriers to cooperation between the Library and any person, institution, or entity within or outside the Library.
* Choose wisely what to stop doing.
* Preserve and foster the connections between users and the Library.
* Harness distributed expertise to serve the needs of the local and global community.
* Help individuals to learn and to use new tools to create a more robust path to knowledge.
* Engage in activism on behalf of the Library if its integrity is externally threatened.
* Endorse procedures only if they guide librarians or users to excellence.
* Identify and implement the most humane and efficient methods, tools, standards and practices.
* Adopt technology that keeps data open and free, abandon technology that does not.
* Be willing and have the expertise to make frequent radical changes.
* Hire the best people and let them do their job; remove staff who cannot or will not.
* Trust each other and trust the users.

We have faith that the citizens of our communities will continue to fulfill their civic responsibility by preserving the Library.
I think that calls for Super Librarian.

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