What aspirations do we have for the next generations of librarians? What is our long-term inter-generational plan for librarianship?
I’ve been hearing talk of plans for building capacity, succession planning, strengthening the profession, all discussed alongside a reluctance for leadership since I finished my studies in 2006. I’ve heard the stories of how our image needs to be improved. I’ve heard the stories about unqualified folks getting jobs that are supposedly for qualified librarians. I’ve seen various initiatives, I’ve seen project teams, I’ve seen the reports. I am not sure what has changed with all of these ‘things’.
What are we actually doing to support the next generations to a) become librarians and b) support them to transform librarianship?
How are we re-developing our library school curriculum? Are we currently publishing research so that future generations can build on our research? Do we successfully harness that new graduate enthusiasm to shift our collective professional thinking? How are we addressing the truth that library customers are part of a continuum, that, regardless of our “library sector”, our customers are the same people, they just interact with different libraries at different points in their lives?
A colleague has recently shared with me the print copy of the Book of Proceedings (2012) from Toitu Hauora Māori 2030 Summit : Māori Health Leadership towards 2030. This document clearly sets out the aspirational goals, discusses the very real challenges ahead and then lays down a pathway to demonstrate how they will be achieved. For me, two things resonated – 1) the acknowledgement that this will happen by focusing on one waka, two worlds (Te Ao Māori & Pakeha), three timeframes (past, present, future); and 2) the acknowledgement that leadership needs to be planned, supported, resourced and deliberate.
It made me reflect on the profession of libraries here in the New Zealand context. How many of us actually stand in the present, acknowledging the past and actively work towards the future? How often do we get caught up in the immediacy of day-to-day problems? How often do we get to the end of our working year and look at our annual individual development plans and actively reflect on “what have I actually achieved towards the long-term?”
What is our collective plan for librarianship going forward? As a profession, what are our aspirational dreams for the world of libraries & librarians in 2030? How often do our experienced practitioners, our kaumatua (~elders) & our emerging practitioners, our rangatahi (~youth), get together to develop a clear agenda for the future?
In Australia, ALIA has NGAC, and IFLA has NP-sig. Conversations between emerging professionals & experienced practitioners. Support for the next generation. Acknowledgement that the new librarians are the ones who will make the agenda happen. If the experienced practitioners are setting the current & future agenda, but not allowing the next generation to be part of this process, then how the heck are emerging librarians expected to achieve anything without a seat at the table?
If we create space at the table where our next generation leaders are given the opportunity to know the past, as well as dream for big futures, together we carve a collective waka, and then we paddle forward in partnership. By not walking this journey alone, our future generations will be in a stronger position, clearly supported by threads of the past, present, future. We need to acknowledge those who’ve paved the way, and we need to support those who are creating the future.
What aspirations do I have for the next generations of librarians?
What is my long-term plan for librarianship?