Back to basics
Important themes in this last issue of the year: democracy, the core mission of libraries, ethical operation, global trends, lobbying for the field – why are such big issues topical right now?
Kirsti Kekki, the motherof library strategies and the qualifications register, crystallizedthe answer to the above question in our conversation: we are entering a new era in the library world. Something is clearly going on. The hybrid library in its present form with shelves and computer terminals is changing. The library is on the move because its customers are on the move. If we fail to reclaim our place in society every few years, our place might soon cease to exist. The decision-makers recognize our needs only if we are able to communicate the impact of our activities. Lawyer Pekka Heikkinen addresses this issue in his article. Heikki Poroila also shares his view on the idea of the library.
What about the global situation? Now it is not water that is churning in a bucket but oceans that are roiling. The world is on the move globally, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has tried to record the directions of the movement. The IFLA Trend Report is an attempt to understand the directions of change and potential impact of upheavals on library work. Jarmo Saarti begins the Finnish debate on trends. IFLA has expressed the wish that all of its member organizations take up the report and communicate how the trends are visible in their country.
What to hold on to when the tectonic plates are moving? The ethical guidelines for library professionals form our backbone, and they also tell us when that backbone needs straightening. Freedom of expression, fairness – and activeness – are signs of professionalism. The ethical guidelines oblige us to keep our professional skills up to date – and also to invest in marketing. In order to make our clients aware of what can be known and where the necessary information can be found, we must highlight ourselves and our competences.
Professionalism calls for the continuous development of ourselves and the field. Tabloids and reality TV programmes do not report on field-specific issues. Professionals should follow the news in their field, particularly when those fields are at a transitional stage. The Kirjastolehti journal, the press releases by Kirjastot.fi and associations, blogs, field-specific social media and the professional videos of Kirjastokaista are some of our tools. There’s no doubt that ignoring them would leave a gap in your knowledge.
Interaction is the foundation of our development. Modern data acquisition training emphasizes that knowledge is not somewhere – it is generated through joint negotiation. So let’s keep the channels of communication in our field open and discuss together the legitimacy of library operations in our time. Let us define together what we communicate to others. This time of transition is an excellent opportunity: curricula are being reformed throughout the school system, digital materials are flowing into our everyday lives, and the economy is what it is. In 2014, let’s make sure that we strengthen the library’s place in society.
Let’s meet in the professional media!