by Michelle Bradley
MCLS conducted 24 conversations throughout Indiana and Michigan in 2016 with 283 library staff from multi-types of libraries participating. The conversations were a “deeper dive” into themes that arose from a series of conversations held in 2014. Those conversations used the “Community Conversation” tool of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to ask library staff what they wanted the library community to be, what challenges they face in realizing these aspirations; and what changes are needed to overcome them.
The five themes that were discussed in greater depth in the “deeper dive” conversations were:
- The evolving role of libraries, and how libraries need to know how to develop programming and projects to meet their communities needs in order to be relevant for today and the future
- The importance of libraries being able to tell their story to their community and decision makers
- The skills, attributes, and characteristics needed to be a successful library worker in the 21st century
- The need to mentor new library staff, and develop emerging leaders so the profession can flourish
- The erosion of information literacy and critical thinking skills of students and the reduction of librarians in our schools
The conversations led to deeper insights into these themes, as well as ideas for further action, and potential solutions to the challenges identified. Some notable insights regarding evolving roles, were the increased role of public libraries in providing social services, and competition for space with other departments in academic libraries. An inventory of skills needed for the 21st century library worker was created, and a profile of a library leader was developed. Additionally, many ideas for how public libraries can work with school libraries to help students were generated through the discussions.
MCLS will use the information gathered through these conversations to inform our work, and will also make this information available to others in the library communities in Indiana and Michigan. The full reports of the conversations from both states are available now.
MCLS is a non-profit, member-driven organization whose mission is to facilitate sharing resources and to collaborate with other organizations to benefit Indiana and Michigan libraries.
Feature Image: Dive by Olly Coffey