What with all the fuss and bother about the Taiga Provocative Statements, I thought I'd take a break from doom and gloom and highlight a more recent set of statement that certainly provide a more optimistic, almost kumbaya, view of the profession.
Of course, I mean The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians which were written by John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor.
One of the great things about the CC-BY license that the statements are released under is that I can share the full text of the statements with you all below.
For the most part, I really like the statements. They are optimistic and forward thinking, envisioning the best that libraries and librarians can be. There represent something to aspire to.
Not surprisingly, however, I do have some small quibbles.
- I'm never too pleased to see rhetoric like, "Hire the best people and let them do their job; remove staff who cannot or will not," especially just after they say, "Identify and implement the most humane and efficient methods, tools, standards and practices." This kind of corporate, Wal-Mart, race-to-the-bottom approach to HR is the wrong approach for public or non-profit institutions.
- Frankly, some of the statements are a bit over-stated, almost veering into the sentimental and mawkish. For example, "The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization" or "The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change." I would have a hard time reciting those in front of a group of faculty and keeping a straight face. While ducking tomatoes.
- I feel that the statements aren't really aimed at academic libraries so much as public or even national libraries. I'm sure many in institutional or special libraries would feel the same way. This isn't a big deal, of course, but it would have been nice to see something a bit more explicit about Information Literacy, for example. As I mentioned above, the current incarnation probably wouldn't go over that well among faculty or academic administrators, who would tend to see themselves as the guardians of civilization. It might make an interesting exercise to remix the statements to be more applicable to the academic environment.
But like I said, these are just quibbles.
(BTW, the Annoyed Librarian takes a stab at fisking the Darien Statements. She/he/it/they mostly miss the mark, but do make a few good points.)
So, here they are, the full text of The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians (word version):
The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians
Written and endorsed by John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor
The Purpose of the Library
The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.
The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change.
The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence.
Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict.
Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will.
A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library.
The Role of the Library
- Provides the opportunity for personal enlightenment.
- Encourages the love of learning.
- Empowers people to fulfill their civic duty.
- Facilitates human connections.
- Preserves and provides materials.
- Expands capacity for creative expression.
- Inspires and perpetuates hope.
The Role of Librarians
- Are stewards of the Library.
- Connect people with accurate information.
- Assist people in the creation of their human and information networks.
- Select, organize and facilitate creation of content.
- Protect access to content and preserve freedom of information and expression.
- Anticipate, identify and meet the needs of the Library’s community.
The Preservation of the Library
Our methods need to rapidly change to address the profound impact of information technology on the nature of human connection and the transmission and consumption of knowledge.
If the Library is to fulfill its purpose in the future, librarians must commit to a culture of continuous operational change, accept risk and uncertainty as key properties of the profession, and uphold service to the user as our most valuable directive.
As librarians, we must:
- Promote openness, kindness, and transparency among libraries and users.
- Eliminate barriers to cooperation between the Library and any person, institution, or entity within or outside the Library.
- Choose wisely what to stop doing.
- Preserve and foster the connections between users and the Library.
- Harness distributed expertise to serve the needs of the local and global community.
- Help individuals to learn and to use new tools to create a more robust path to knowledge.
- Engage in activism on behalf of the Library if its integrity is externally threatened.
- Endorse procedures only if they guide librarians or users to excellence.
- Identify and implement the most humane and efficient methods, tools, standards and practices.
- Adopt technology that keeps data open and free, abandon technology that does not.
- Be willing and have the expertise to make frequent radical changes.
- Hire the best people and let them do their job; remove staff who cannot or will not.
- Trust each other and trust the users.
We have faith that the citizens of our communities will continue to fulfill their civic responsibility by preserving the Library.