Truly question everything, especially the status quo

When I wrote my last post about flipped classrooms, and attempted to apply the model of thinking to libraries, the hardest part for me was to find the appropriate questions to ask of school library practice.  We tend to be bound by our experience and habits to the belief that what we do now is simply the way it should be.  It is very difficult to re-imagine our own spaces and way of doing when it interlocks so completely with the status quo.

So I was thrilled this morning to find this excellent post in my inbox – Truly question everything.  David Truss reflects on just such a process, and provides some excellent starter questions that we might use to begin rethinking libraries.

A couple of years ago, I was in negotiations with my Principal to reconfigure the area of the library in which the computers were situated.  The idea was to grab more of the library space, and we were heading towards a very traditional model of computers around the outside of a U shaped area, situated with inward facing screens.  Fortunately, I realised at this point that it wasn’t necessarily the most innovative thinking ever seen, and stepped back to give it some more thought.

In the face of current thinking, I think that was a good choice.  The school now has an opportunity to do it differently and better, and truly question where, how, and why things should be.

Have you looked at your library and asked similar questions?  Why are things arranged the way they are?  Why do you perform your current morning routines?  Do they fit an old model of thinking?  As an example, at my (public) library we are looking at moving towards a model where shelving is no longer done in the morning before patrons arrive.  We will be implementing roving (or embedded) librarians who are out and about in the stacks – and where their primary focus is to signal to patrons that they are available.  If they manage to get a little shelving done during this time, great!  Other staff doing regular shelving stints might be expected to do that during busy times on the floor, with the same motives in mind.  This model is much more customer oriented, and we all know that when we are out there, looking like librarians, we will be asked for assistance.

What questions are you asking?  And who are you including in the discussion – your customers?  Colleagues?  Flockmates?  And what are the answers you are coming up with?  Please share your thoughts.

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5 Responses to Truly question everything, especially the status quo

  1. Dave Truss says:

    Thanks for continuing the conversation! I have written a post before ‘I [Heart] Libraries and although I didn’t ask questions, I think you might enjoy my thoughts on library spaces:
    I’m very intrigued about what layout you did end up using with your computer lab… please share!

    • Hi Dave
      Loved, loved, loved your post about what libraries should be and do! I will be sharing that with my circle, too.
      As to the school library and proposed computer lab – sadly, I moved on to the public library sector before anything could be done. The direction I wanted to go in was completely flexible spaces that allowed constant reconfiguring to facilitate student collaboration. Probably not having desktop computers but laptops, tablets etc. Lots of power points and network cabling as well as wireless. I really wanted kids to be able to bring their own devices, too. I was also getting a smart board for the library, however the bright light from skylights was going to be an issue… ah, me. ‘Twould have been good!

  2. Donna, this post is absolutely “spot on” – and very much in line with a lot of the work we’re doing in the advisory service – encouraging re-imagining the library, and transforming practice. A very timely post, thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Janet
      It was very much the tone of my recent workshops and keynotes, too. We really need to get our people to climb on board with this – it is truly urgent now. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Daily News: 3 April 2012 | Finding Heroes

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