Monday, November 9, 2009

Notes from an MLA Workshop Presentation

Of the MLA sessions I attended on Thursday (Nov 12th), I really appreciated some of the comments that George Needham shared in his presentation, “It Ain’t Necessarily So: Challenging the Assumptions of Legacy Librarianship”

I liked Mr. Needham’s presentation style (informal & humorous) and thought that the following “messages” of his were worth sharing. What do you think? :

  • Is what we do or how we “present ourselves” still needed or wanted?
  • Librarianship should present meaning because neither Google nor Amazon can.
  • We need to “re-deploy Reference”- collaborate with other departments (academic libraries) and collaborate with City Council or city/township services (public libraries)
  • Promote reading as a healthy activity; “Reading as an activity keeps humans out of nursing homes/help humans stay healthy. Promote, ‘Success through reading’ ”
  • Kindle, ebooks, e-audiobooks, books in print- it doesn’t matter. We need to promote our assets. Our collections are better than most bookstores.
  • As something becomes popular, we tend to ration it. Don’t ration new technologies/software in our libraries. When Internet access was first available in libraries we told our users that they had 20 minutes to use it.
  • Get ourselves (our presence) on other library’s blogs and/or websites.
  • Too often we expect our users to do things and find things using OUR way. Every time we ask our users to find our materials using OUR way, we’re asking them to make those left turns.
  • Simplify the work area- keep it clear of too many handouts, fliers, bookmarks, etc.
  • Keep our systems and signs free of jargon- the only people who know our systems and/or jargon are the people who don’t need to know!
  • Keep the “gate-keeping” to a minimum. Use fewer rules and simplify the rules.
  • Service desks should be placed in the stacks where they’re needed.


  1. Barb, I was there and didn't even see you! :)

    At first I was put off by the emphasis on books, books, books but after digesting the talk, I realize that's just it the point, isn't it?

    As LIBRARY, we can delve into whatever new things the public does... and yet, we will always be BOOKS to them. Library= Books = Our brand.


  2. I like that last comment about service desks need to be in the stacks, but better yet, why must it be a desk? Why not just service in the stacks? I know roving is not a new idea, but it certainly is underutilized.

    I can envision a library without an imposing reference desk where service could be offered at "consultation stations". Librarians could be equipped with handheld devices enabling them to move about freely in the library while maintaining connectivity to all online resources.

  3. We could do an experiment in the spring. Take a lap top up to 3 or 4. Ask if anyone needs help. Sit down with lap top and go!

    If we had one LCC Library device, that would be even easier (our lap tops are kinda heavy).

    And heck, with full staffing, maybe we could go revisit traveling reference... going to visit LS-ARC or Kennedy and setting up shop for an hour or so a week.....


  4. I would really like to spend time in LS-ARC and/or Kennedy Cafeteria and/or somewhere on main fl of Gannon with a sm table, laptop and sign, "Ask a Librarian". Thanks for the reminder, Rachel.

  5. These are great reminders for us!

    Help users find materials THEIR way, not OUR way
    Banish library jargon (the college has enough jargon already!)
    Minimize "gate keeping"
    Mobile reference service - wherever students congregate, especially during key times of the semester