1. SUL/AIR AND THE INSTITUTE ON 21ST-CENTURY LIBRARIANSHIP
How are librarians preparing their organizations to survive - and take advantage of - escalating changes in information technology? How does the profession identify and develop its next generation of leaders? What are librarians' vehicles for mid-career development? How do we define best practices in an era of continuous change?
These and other concerns led to the creation of the Stanford - California State Library Institute on 21st-Century Librarianship. Announced publicly at a gathering of California public library directors in March, the Institute, its creators hope, will provide a means - or at least a venue - for addressing the issues of a turbulent future. The Institute is a joint project of the California State Library and Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources. It is funded primarily by a federal Library Services and Technology Administration grant.
The need for continuing education for librarians has been the focus of increasing interest for the last several years, both within California and nation-wide. The California Library Association, among other organizations, has made continuing education a top concern. State Librarian Kevin Starr hopes his efforts at fostering continuing professional education will be a significant part of his legacy as State Librarian. "There is tremendous need for librarians to hone their professional skills and add to their knowledge base, but none of the library schools in the state are addressing it. The Stanford - California State Library program will begin to fill that need." Nationally, a number of organizations are trying to obtain support for continuing education programs of various levels. The Council on Library and Information Resources, in cooperation with Emory University, has announced a Digital Leadership Institute which is also expected to begin full operation in 2000.The Stanford-based program will work cooperatively with that program in curriculum development; the two programs may exchange staff.
Beginning in the summer of 2000, during its first full year of operation, the Institute will offer 150 working librarians an intensive, interactive, residential symposium at Stanford. Two-thirds of the participants will be from California libraries of all types. It is anticipated that library and information professionals from around the world will round out the participants. Potential topics include access to digital materials; disaster preparedness; using technology for more effective community service and liaison; technology assessment; and preservation, both digital and conventional.
As the Institute prepares for its first major gathering, it will also provide a series of workshops this September. The workshops will be offered to 50 participants in each of several yet-to-be-decided locations; workshops will take place at least in the Bay Area and in Southern California. Specific topics and themes for both the workshops and symposium are currently being discussed.
Michael Keller has been closely involved in the development of the Institute concept. "There are a host of issues to look into, and while there are obvious differences between, say, a place like Stanford and a public library system, most of the big issues - the profound stuff - apply to both. This will be increasingly apparent as we move further into the digital age." According to Keller, one of the vital components of the Institute is the mix of librarians from different types of institutions and other parts of the world. "We hope that cross-fertilization of ideas and solutions, intensive interaction among participants, and lasting informal ties will be among the distinctive qualities of the program."
The summer symposium will offer daily plenary sessions on broad issues of planning, technology, and leadership. These will be bracketed by smaller, more specific sessions focused on several concurrent, topical tracks. To the extent possible, these tracks will provide hands-on experience and take advantage of the broad array of wired teaching facilities at Stanford, especially those in the libraries. Instructors, leaders, and presenters will be recruited from many sources and include Stanford staff, library school instructors, and others.
The Institute is forming an advisory group to help determine the most urgent continuing education needs of the profession and formulate the most appropriate means for content delivery. The advisory group, which will have its first meeting in early May, is to consist of about twenty prominent librarians and information technologists selected from the major professional and organizational communities in California. It will include members from public and private institutions, professional associations, and a broad range of educational contexts, from K-12 schools to major research universities. There will be a strong contingent of public librarians in the advisory group to represent the disparate needs of urban and rural populations, and the northern and southern regions of the State.
State Librarian Kevin Starr is a strong proponent of the Institute and of bolstering continuing education for librarians. He has publicly expressed his interest in and approval of the partnership between his agency and Stanford: "This is a truly exciting model of public-private cooperation." To extend the partnership model even further, Keller has invited senior managers from several information technology firms to take part in the advisory group.
Pending the appointment of a managing director for the Institute, Stanford staff are working closely with the Peninsula Library System and its director, Linda Crowe, to prepare for the advisory group meeting and the fall workshops. "We hope to have a managing director named within the next few months, in any case, not later than the workshop series," said Keller. "In the meantime, we are fortunate to be working with Linda and her crew in getting the program off the ground."
As details about the advisory group, the fall workshops, and the summer symposium are announced, they will be available at the Institute Web site: