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On Writing The Darien Statements

April 3rd, 2009
Photo by Michael Porter

Photo by Michael Porter

Following the “Not-Quite-Summit on the Future of Libraries” event at Darien Library, John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and I spent a day in John’s office (literally) drawing out the ideas that had sprouted there.  Our intention was to spend a day writing a Thing that expressed our concern and hope for the future of libraries, regardless of library type or community served.  We spent the next week in a three-person unconference, the product of which is now posted to John’s blog.  It was an amazing, enriching, exhausting experience,  forming interstices in our attendance at the Computers in Libraries 2009 conference.

We hope that the statements we’ve crafted on our future spark conversation to move us forward in a positive way.  There is a groundswell of passion and interest that we in our profession must harness, lest we become irrelevant in a rapidly-changing world.  A big thank you from the three of us to all the librarians who have been publicly writing and thinking about the future of libraries. I hope we channeled your thoughts with respect.

My own personal response to what we have written involves the concept of openness.  We already embrace “open source,” “open access,” “open space technology,” the “open library“; the openness I want us to espouse is not only related to libraries and our profession but to all of us as human beings. I believe we are on the cusp of an historic, societal change that libraries can push forward, be a part of, and preserve.

Openness requires us to trust instinctively, and to be open and honest with those around us.  Openness grows trust; trust grows connection; connection enables us to grow as people.  Conversely, hurt and hatred sever connection; lack of connection breeds mistrust; mistrust causes us to close ourselves off from each other. If we are closed, we do not grow.  For librarians to grow, and concomitantly, for our libraries to grow, we must throw the doors open: we can no longer afford to live in silos, whether it’s the silo of our individual or departmental expertise; the silos of data that comprise many library systems; the silo of a single library among institutions with similar missions; or the silo of libraries in the universe of other entities that gather and provide information.

Photo by Cindi Trainor

Photo by Cindi Trainor

A quick note on collaboration:  John, Kathryn, and I used email, google chat, meebo, EtherPad, cameras, a whiteboard, flickr, an iPhone, iTalk, and Skype to do this.  Grateful that there were so many tools to get the job done, and grateful to John and Kathryn for their hard work and friendship.

The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians, at Blyberg.net
On Writing the Darien Statements, by Kathryn Greenhill

  1. September 20th, 2009 at 19:38 | #1

    Rachel and Elizabeth, I can’t speak for John and Kathryn, but personally, I’m on the fence about the book settlement. I do agree with ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan that it makes me squeamish for one company to be the “uber library,” but I also agree that no one but Google could undertake such a huge digitization project, which–Settlement aside–helps the greater good because it does make more information accessible. My personal opinion is that it’s still too difficult for people to read an entire book on a computer screen; finding books via Google will surely lead to more uses of those (print) books. This has what it’s meant for me, at any rate. Ask our Interlibrary Loan staff. :)

    You raise an interesting question about the line between freedom of information and the right for artists to make a living with their work. It would be nice if the current systems could be changed so that more of the money in the publishing and distribution systems could be put into the hands of the artists. I’m not saying that the Google Book settlement does this, by any means. Creative Commons is a good example of a step in the right direction.

    Take science fiction writer Cory Doctorow, for example. He makes his novels and stories available from his website under a Creative Commons license. Various people have converted them to all formats imaginable–DailyLit.com can send them out via an RSS feed or email messages. I read Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother, earlier this year and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to give the author compensation for it. On his website, he thanks people like me kindly, but asks that instead of sending him money, we buy a copy of the book from Amazon and have it mailed to a library that has requested a copy. I chose to send a copy to a library in Southern California near where I used to live. Obviously small-scale, and Doctorow has other means of making a living, as he states on his blog, but this model rewards the author and his editors and publishers, and benefits libraries to boot. I think that’s pretty neat.

  2. Elizabeth Marshall
    September 13th, 2009 at 16:15 | #2

    Thank you so much for the Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians. I am a new MLIS student (as of 2 weeks ago!) and was so excited to read these, I was shouting them out loud to my husband (who had to keep shushing me so our kids wouldn’t wake up!) LOL

    I think you perfectly captured the essence of the purpose of the library, the role of the library, the role of librarians, and the preservation of the library.

    I must admit, as an aspiring author who had only heard the negative aspect regarding google books until starting library school, like Rachel (above) I am interested to hear your opinion and that of your colleagues on this matter. After all, Napster was already attacked for doing the same thing with music to musicians. Then there are laws against piracy of movies too. Are books (works that take a very long time to create by authors “just open a vein and bleed”) not as valuable? With a library, an effort must be made to go into the branch and check out the book. Even if it is a website that a library would subscribe to so that royalties can still be calculated and paid to the author, what is the line to be drawn between freedom of information and the infringement upon artists (for are not writers artists) who already have a hard time making a living? Isn’t this a belittlement of their work? Right now, the books are free to check out in a library, but still they must be purchased. I know that there is a settlement regarding google books, but I admit I am unclear as to how this will benefit not only current authors, but future authors?

  3. rachel lawson
    June 15th, 2009 at 15:33 | #3

    I appreciate your thoughts on openness and how it helps us connect and ultimately, grow. My question is, what are your thought on google books? While this is excellent for those that can’t get to a library, doesn’t it hurt the authors of the world? Or are we beyond conventional publishing in our world of blogs, and the like?

  4. April 14th, 2009 at 16:44 | #4

    Hi Cindi – thanks for the Darian Statements. I’ve noted them in two blog entries and have a few more in the works…



  5. April 7th, 2009 at 07:58 | #5

    “Openness grows trust” – yes, and that includes trust of our patrons – trusting them (as more than just customers) to add to the knowledge for which librarians care. Web 2.0 opens that door.

  6. April 4th, 2009 at 05:12 | #6

    This is a truly inspirational piece of work… thank you.

  7. April 3rd, 2009 at 12:09 | #7

    I’m proud to know you guys.

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