Librarians are often tasked with developing a new services and coming up with procedures for supporting them. We not only find ourselves creating innovative services for which there are no standards, but services which are likely to be replaced in 18-months. Historically, librarians have relied upon the literature and conferences as their primary learning tools. An idea for a services is gauged and weighed against what others are doing. The short service lifespan provides little time for best practices to emerge, let alone to be documented using traditional communications methods.
So, where can a librarian go for answers and support when creating innovative services when standards and best practices don't exist? Today! At this point, you are probably thinking that this is going to be another post touting the important role blogging can play in the evolution of librarianship. Nope. Instead it is about the growing need for librarian learning communities.
Within a learning community, a member seeks assistance from a virtual workgroup instead of consulting traditional learning tools and professional networks. In effect, the informal community itself plays an active role in the problem solving process and he archiving of solutions. There are many challenges to this approach. This first is that there must be a legitimate self-interest to sustain individual participation. Community members must each feel a personal return on their investment in their involvement in the group.
Getting librarians to think in terms of mutual, collaborative support is a challenge. Given the pace of change and the demands for expertise, we are at a point where we really have little choice. We must learn to share our expertise to survive in an environment with commercial competition.
Perhaps the most notable librarian learning community is WebJunction, established in 2002 with a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant awarded to OCLC. WebJunction is now supported in part by OCLC, grants from IMLS and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, our partners in state library agencies and other library service organizations. Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki is also a very helpful site. The number of topics has grown a great deal. It is a great jumping off spot, especially for those that I am a novice.
What other librarian learning communities do you know of out there?
Sphere: Related Content