CoverYou know how sometimes a book is just getting mentioned everywhere, and you think “Heck I better read this”? In library circles, The Atlas of New Librarianship by R. David Lankes is that book.

It’s a hefty tome. I look at the contents and see the words dialectic, entailment mesh and Enterprenuerium and get a tad nervous. Will I need to go and get a PhD to read it? Then I’m relieved when Lankes says in the preface:

This book is all about conversations. The Atlas is my latest contribution to that conversation, and it is really an invitation for you to join in.

Ok, so now I’m into the meat of the book. What is this “new librarianship” anyway? “Simply put, new librarianship recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created through conversation.”(p.2)

Who is involved in this conversation? Lankes makes the case for the word “members” – not users, patrons, or cust0mers. People can be “members of a community, a library, or a conversation (and often all three at the same time)”. (p.6)

The big mission statement of librarians is something to think on – and measure your progress against “The MISSION of LIBRARIANS is to IMPROVE SOCIETY through FACILITATING KNOWLEDGE CREATION in their COMMUNITIES”.

Some of the ideas that leapt out:

The librarian must know the community and its needs. (p. 24)

The enduring value of librarians on which everything flows is their credibility (p. 24)

… to be of service in building knowledge means to be part of a conversation. (p. 33)

Stop thinking in terms of resources. Stop thinking in terms of recorded knowledge. Stop thinking in terms of collections or artifacts, or traditions, or circulation! Think only of knowledge in the community. That is your collection! (p. 43)

This is a mere taster of the substantial feast of ideas to be found in the Atlas. Read it, and also: