Foundational Literature: How to Embrace Plan D

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When reading the foundational literature from Module 2, I decided to read each in chronological order. I felt that this approach would help me gain perspective on the past and compare their visions of the future with that of the present. Once all was read, I was surprised to find that the reading from 1992 was just as relevant than that from 2012. I began with Buckland’s (1992) vision of a hybrid library balancing print and electronic information. Although he could not foresee the difficulties with access like copyright and the monetary maintenance electronic collections would require, Buckland makes many accurate predictions of catalogs with live links to electronic files and aggregated databases from multiple access points. In his work, he begins a conversation about user-centered, flexible libraries that respond and adapt to the user’s experience and needs.

Casey & Savastinuk (2007) continue this conversation with the work, Library 2.0. Their vision of “Library 2.0” is an organization that values the user as central to the library’s mission. It promotes an incorporation of constant and purposeful change by means of systematic investigation, review and refinement of library services. The authors’ vision hearkens back to a point also made by Buckland that libraries must use their library mission as the guide and support for all services. In “Think like a Startup”, Matthews (2012) brings up a similar perspective on our organization’s mission, he writes that we cannot just “focus on small tweaks to existing services” (p.1) in the library, we must consider “what people need it to become” (p.2). All these works come to a common focus for libraries: to look at the “big” picture. What is our library here to provide? How can we get there?

One of the most glaring points made in these foundational readings is that our ideas should be allowed to succeed or fail; that change should be a pillar of our organizational culture. Although embracing failure may not seem a positive aspect at the outset, I find the permission to test good ideas without fear to be a freeing concept. It is not a horrible idea to scrap “Plan A” for Plans B, C, or D, especially if Plan D is responding perfectly to its conditions.

I hope to use many of the Library 2.0 and startup-style recommendations to gather great ideas, involve people of all levels and refine existing services to meet the needs of the people. Distributing the creation and review among teams means that when ideas fail, people will be less likely to take their failure personally. This degree of removal ensures that change will be continuous rather than halt on a static idea in the fear of hurting someone’s ego. I found these readings to be very motivational, but know that these ideas might “shake-up” existing structures within a library. Getting buy-in with people within the organization will be key.

References:

Buckland, Michael. (1992). Redesigning Library Services: A Manifesto. Retrieved from http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/sunsite/Redesigning%20Library%20Services_%20A%20Manifesto%20(HTML).pdf

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, N.J: Information Today.

Mathews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism. [White paper]. Retrieved from https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

2 thoughts on “Foundational Literature: How to Embrace Plan D

  1. I can’t say enough about “buy in.” In fact, I wonder if that’s what this class is about – helping staff get buy in for participatory projects and understanding the trends and tech that could enhance our interactions with users (another way to say buy in)…

    • Yes, I feel that a lot of the buy in should involve framing our projects and ideas for understanding. For those who are skeptical, I think it is important that they understand that ideas can crash and still be worth the risk. I do not feel that people talk about their failed ideas enough. People seem to want recognition only for that which is successful. These are lessons from which we can learn and evolve.

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