Reflection 2 – Participatory Service & Transparency

Wow, I couldn’t help but feel completely enamored by this week’s content. Dr. Stephen’s enthusiasm and passion for participatory service and transparency was absolutely contagious. Just being able to see the ways that different libraries have been innovating and truly responding to the evolving needs of their users is inspiring. As I’ve never worked in a library before, in an unexpected way, this week’s content also provided me a lot of insight into the current internal climate of libraries – especially as it relates to an apparent tendency for library administration to be stuck in their ways and unwilling to embrace change.

This move towards openness and participation has led me to think about what impact it may have not only upon library services, but also on the internal structure of libraries. Last week, we learned about how many libraries have a top-down organizational structure with the important decisions being made at the top while little input is asked for from “below.” When members of the staff, regardless of their ranking, and members of the public are encouraged to become involved in the decision making process, it seems that a more shallow organizational structure would eventually follow. This would definitely seem to be an essential step towards the wholly transparent and participatory library that is currently being strived for.

7 Thoughts.

  1. Bree, your idea of a more shallow structure evolving from participatory culture and transparency seems accurate; perhaps that is one of the reasons that these are not so readily embraced (fear of losing the hierarchy or our place within it?).

    • @mvasudeva Definitely, I think that could be a contributing factor. I’m wondering how progression towards a shallower organizational structure would actually occur in reality – especially considering how this structure has been with us since the first US libraries. From that perspective, efforts to change something that seems so fundamental would naturally meet a lot of resistance.

  2. Bree – I share both your inexperience working in a library and concern about whether some library administrators are too resistant to change. I will say that anecdotally, what gives me some hope is seeing the diversity and youthfulness of today’s librarian. I work at San Diego State University and our library faculty is so diverse, passionate about social justice, and is full of changemakers. Many of them have a focus on digital humanities – an increasingly important skill set for academics in the 21st century. Seeing this openness, dare I say facilitation, of change – especially as it relates to technological advances in an academic environment – is really promising.

  3. @slaurienzo Hi Shana!
    Definitely! Spending this time reading about how so many young librarians and information professionals are so passionate about transparency, openness, and willing to even reconsider the traditional library hierarchy is so refreshing. It’s definitely easy to latch on to an outdated perception of librarians as stuffy old grouches who hate progress and fun, but that’s so far from the truth. Just like you said, it’s super promising. 😀

  4. What a great conversation. I like the concept of a “shallow” organization. I would venture to say that the examples Michael Casey shared in our chat reflect GCPL becoming more shallow – as they innovate and explore new models of service.

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