Diary of an Inspired Library Assistant
I remember first receiving the news that I had been chosen to be a New Professional Fellow at the 2014 DLF Forum. I was filled with thankfulness at being chosen, and anticipation of the future. It was my first big conference, and I envisioned a swanky event filled with knowledgeable people discussing the latest digital library news, armed with an arsenal of experience building online repositories, managing metadata, and more. At this same conference, I imagined people new to the field, and excited to learn about upcoming technologies, practices, and strategies for their projects (people like me!). As it turned out, I was not disappointed!
Whether a session was a presentation featuring an innovative new technology or practice, a working session where relevant issues were dissected amongst peers, a more informal birds of a feather discussion, or a deep dive, each one encouraged creativity and engagement with issues relevant to the library community. My favorite two sessions were Developing an Understanding of Librarian 3.0 and Perspectives On….Maker Culture and Programs in Libraries. I love discussions of modern day librarianship, whether that be the role librarians play, or the physical space of the library. I was especially excited that both of these sessions explored the ideas of librarians as partners and collaborators, not only helping students/faculty/the public at large gain new knowledge, but also directly helping them develop new skills and projects. While I believe this has always been an important component of librarianship, in this day and age, gaining new skills can range from finding a journal article for an essay, to creating a 3D model for an art project. Discussing and hearing about how libraries are rethinking the services offered to their users, and then actually implementing their ideas, inspired me to think about the future of libraries I interact with!
While I was excited to hear about the amazing things being done at libraries around the world, I was not truly surprised. For me, the library has always represented possibility. This could be the possibility of a safe space to dream and explore, the possibility of new ideas, the possibility of learning new skills; in all, the possibility of a brighter future. Thus, the Forum was most important to me because it showed me how these possibilities were becoming realities. For example, if one is intrigued by digital repositories collaboratively created with the user experience in mind, merely look toward the work at the Stanford University Libraries’ Digital Library Systems and Services. If one is interested in open access to archival material, check out the ten-campus digital collection for the University of California. If one hopes for their library to make new and current technology available for the public to use for work or play, then look at the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library at the University of Reno, Nevada.
Even more thrilling than what has already been done, is all that is to come. Libraries, whether physical, digital, or a combination of both, are able to evolve, and as such will remain a place where curiosity and information meet and become partners. As keynote speaker Bonnie Tijerina pointed out with her quote by Anil Dash, “the things that feel like common sense to a librarian are radical and eye-opening and amazing…and [people] need to hear [their] voice.” The wide variety of library services and people who work in libraries should be celebrated and shared with the world, and the Forum helps achieve that goal.