Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Mission Transition

Cindy and I were pondering the history of our storied library the other day, and wondering when exactly we jumped on the participatory technology train. We both could point to the implementation of various technologies over the past couple of years, but that doesn't explain why we started in the first place. In the olden days, say the 1990's, we were still ruled by the old paradigm of literacy support. When did the "Mission Transition" happen? Then I recalled, back in early 2005, our city called on us to create a new mission to reflect the mission of the city as a whole. Cindy dug it out of her files for me and the very first item read, "Commons: A library that provides a Commons environment helps address the need of people to meet and interact with others in their community and to participate in public discourse about community issues." I was amazed. It may not use the buzz words, but it certainly lays the foundation for everything we've tried to do with those technologies. We were 2.0 before 2.0 was cool!

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Kiss

This week my blogging counterpart, Steve, our Evening Supervisor, Roland Johnson, and I trekked up to the Thompson Center in Chicago to meet with Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, and Director of the State Library Anne Craig. I contacted Anne Craig a few months ago about the possibility of interviewing her for a podcast. We hit the jackpot! Not only did Anne Craig agree, but she invited Secretary White to participate in the podcast. The podcast opened the door for us to spend about an hour and half with Anne Craig, and about forty-five minutes with Secretary White, time focused on our Library and community.

It was a surreal experience for me. We are not a big library; we don’t have any special clout or inside connections, yet here were these two extremely important and influential people taking time from their busy schedules for us. We were truly honored and I was pretty much left speechless.

Not very many elected officials have the courage to publicly say they don’t think filters are a good idea, but Secretary White did. I could have kissed him. To my surprise, when we left, he kissed me on the check. I may never wash my face again.

Cindy Fuerst
Library Director

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Don't Tread on Us

Like most other librarians in the state of Illinois these days, my hair has been put on end by the proposed "Social Networking Website Prohibition Act" wending it's way through the Illinois General Assembly. If enacted, the law will do exactly what the title suggests. The Illinois Library Association has released an excellent set of talking points. However, I think they have left out one that would be particularly appealing to conservatives. Conservatives assert that the people are best represented by the elected officials closest to their communities. City government is more representative than state government, which is more representative than the federal government. Every public library in this state is governed by a board of trustees, either elected by the people of a public library district or appointed by the mayor of a city served by a municipal library. In every case, these boards have decided what internet policies best represent the communities that their libraries serve. What I ask the promoters of the "Social Networking Website Prohibition Act" is this: what is your evidence that these citizen overseers are making such wrong decisions that they must be overruled by a higher authority?

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director