ALA Annual 2015

#ALAAC15 The Disruptive Bone in YOUR Body!

Anyone care to Find the DISRUPTIVE bone in your body?

Disrupt: : to cause (something) to be unable to continue in the normal way : to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something)

As I walked from event to event in  San Francisco, rode the shuttle buses and rubbed elbows at the sit down and stand up events, I really wanted to know what it was like to be in other people’s library world and to get a sense of  their challenges.

So I asked people this question, “What would you do to be disruptive in your library world?”

That word disruptive hit some people instantly as something negative and unruly. There was a little bit of fear in the first hearing of it.

But being librarians they pushed past the fear and really thought about it. I heard about school librarians who work in more than one building.

I met librarians who come in to different libraries in their district and who see librarians who are holding on to “their system” and “their way of doing things.” One story was about a librarian who shelved all of the Barbie and Batman books (etc.) by author significantly challenging anyone to find more than one book on these characters.

I heard about the struggle a public library system has to create a partnership with their public school system.

I heard about the fight to “teach” the community about the VALUE of libraries and what we have to offer.

I thought about the long line of librarians who have been fighting the good fight for so many years and remembered this piece I’d seen recently.

In October 1945 the ALA Executive Board dedicated a morning to explore the future of librarianship. Here are some quotes from this ALA Executive Board meeting from 70 years ago (and the source is the A.L.A. Bulletin published in February 1946.)

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“If the profession seems to lack dynamism some of the responsibility rests with administrators. All too many still hold professional members to routine work and give what seem valid reasons why all must take their turn at essential clerical tasks.

We need an improved type of professional personnel, a conception of administration which would make use of all the thinking, all the ideas and potential planning of the entire professional body in an institution, not just of departmental heads.

Personally, I believe in the Campbell soup method. It is very nearly impossible to pick up a magazine without coming face to face with a colorful Campbell soup advertisement or a glamorous liquor ad. The first makes you hungry and the second makes you want to go right out and imbibe. This method must be good. Even religion is catching on. “Go to church next Sunday” is the exhortation I’ve been noticing on billboards and in magazines these last few years.

I should like to know what an advertising campaign on a national scale would do for libraries. I’d be willing to wager that it would up their status as a matter of course. Communities generally get what they want if they want it hard enough, and when the people as a whole get library conscious they will tend to demand better libraries.

As to coverage, brought into the picture by Mr. Richards, Mr. Ulveling, and Miss Rothrock — deploring the low percentage of use of libraries –I agree that it is deplorable, but I am convinced that the answer is not just a question of obtaining finances for exploiting all the new devices — the film, the record, the phonograph, television — which will insure us a new dynamism, but something more basic, even more fundamental, important as that is, than a reorganization which will free the heads of departments, as Miss Herbert urges, “to do the thinking and planning.”

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This board in 1945 was shouting out the need to be disruptive, to let new ideas push through, to invite librarians at all levels in the organization to create new ideas and make the library synonymous with the word dynamic.  Does any of this sound familiar?

So now it’s your turn…… “What would you do to be disruptive in your library system?”

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