Towards Rubicon: A Story About Libraries That Turn And Face The Strange. That’s the title of my keynote at the annual REBIUN conference at Palma de Mallorca, Spain, November 9th to 11th.
The title reaches for both history and Bowie – two things that I find great for explaining and framing stuff.
I was asked if I would do a talk on struggles and challenges for academic libraries but I find that a bit to gloomy a subject for my taste (I’m a LEGO playing library director after all) but also a theme in lack of some important elements and aspect in the discussion of the future of libraries. Where does challenges come from? Where does opportunities come from? They are mainly driven by changes in our surroundings and changes, if we like them or not, are here to stay. Not much in this world are static (except maybe the magic of David Bowie) and in order to develop and grow I strongly believe that libraries needs to embrace the change and face the strange. Not ignore it or fight it. So my talk will be about that.
Changes often comes with uncertainty and I think many human beings and institutions even if they will admit it or not, really are fans of status quo (myself included on many days). You know that you got but you don’t know what you gonna get, right? But it’s an unhealthy position to take in order to navigate libraries wisely through changes and it often brings out The Let’s Save Libraries Ghost. The Let’s Save Libraries Ghost is not saying boo because of governmental cuts on library budgets (that’s a different kind of change) but it’s scares us to a place where we look at changes in technology, infrastructure, culture and behavior and thinking how do I save the library I know in all this. But that is wrong – leading a library of status quo through tides of changes is a bad trip and will in the end result in a library out of sync with it’s community and the needs it serve.
The Burning Platform methafor and attitude is an evention of The Let’s Save Libraries Ghost
Ask the right questions
In my talk I will address the following questions which I think is crucial for libraries to navigate and continuous create value in research and higher education.
- What’s the purpose of higher education?
- What changes effects higher education?
- Which challenges and opportunities does those changes bring to higher education?
- To which of these challenges and opportunities in higher education are the library the answer?
My talk looks at those questions and will pinpoint some ways to face challenges, opportunities and changes but most of all, I hope it will offer reflections and a direction on how the culture of libraries can deal with changes.
I’m looking forward to walk towards Rubicon with the REBIUN participants, hopefully cross it, and go back to our institutions ready to embrace the change and face the strange.
Hopefully the REBIUN 2016 participants will be all be dancing like Bowie after my talk