Global Communities and Global Librarianship

Photo courtesy NASA

A past #hyperlib student, Ashton Vagnone, grappled with the idea of global librarianship and Competency O, and I found their comments to be really interesting and am sharing them with you here. If you choose this Adventure, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

“I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of Competency O. For example, if a library provides Internet access and social media classes to a patron who goes on to be a vocal activist about the Syrian conflict, does that count as “contributing” to our global community? If we help to prepare patrons to be global citizens, we’re technically (though indirectly) influencing the world. What about simply looking at the way libraries outside of the United States serve their communities? Is that an example of a library helping their local community or our global community?

I grappled with these (and other) questions until I happened upon a short article in the SJSU SLIS Student Research Journal written by Melanie Sellar, the Librarian Without Borders executive co-director and the professor behind the International Librarianship (IL) course here at San Jose State. She was also the SJSU SLA Student Chapter’s guest speaker on competency O this past October. In her article, Sellar’s preferred conceptualization of the term “international librarianship” derives from J. Stephen Parker’s 1974 definition of it:”

International librarianship consists of activities carried out among or between governmental or non-governmental institutions, organizations, groups or individuals of two or more nations, to promoteestablishdevelopmaintain and evaluate library, documentation and allied services, and librarianship and the library profession generally, in any part of the world. (As cited in Sellar, 2016, emphasis in original)

Below are a deep dives into specific libraries (Dokk1 in Denmark), countries more broadly (Australia), and a look at what’s happening in libraries around the world.