Collaborative rabble-rousing

I love this summary of discussions about public services and delivery for archives, special collections and rare books from the RLG Steering Committee for Special Collections Delivery: “If it is controversial, we have to talk about it.” (And not just because one of my favorite colleagues here at Stanford, Mattie Taormina, was part of the conversation).

These are challenging and potentially exciting times for libraries and the future of libraries; but at an individual institution level we can so easily get bogged down in just trying to keep our library running every day that the time, energy, and ideas to engage in innovation are hard to come by. I love that the RLG Programs folks seem to be stepping up to provide the structure to bring together the small pockets of innovative thinking at individual institutions.
This quote captures the problem for me, and highlights why collaborative work is the way to go:

In every case, at least one or two of the trio had good reasons not to tackle the topic at their own institution, but agreed the project would have an impact.

It is just too hard and too risky for individual institutions to come up with the kind of provocative new thinking and new services that libraries need right now. I am hopeful that collaborative work like that being nurtured at RLG Programs will effectively harness the collective energy and ideas that are out there. I see it as a kind of collective rabble-rousing … which sounds like a lot of fun.

3 Responses to “Collaborative rabble-rousing”

  1. 1 Mat April 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for the kudos Chris & right back at ya!!!

    This was interesting:
    “It is just too hard and too risky for individual institutions to come up with the kind of provocative new thinking and new services that libraries need right now”.

    Why do you think that is?


    • 2 Chris April 29, 2009 at 5:05 pm

      I think all new ideas are necessarily filtered through the lens of a diminishing budget, and unpredictable future funding. Innovation costs money and other resources in the short term, even if some of the innovative ideas we might come up could turn out to be resource-savers in the long term. Big changes are hard, and organizations tend to become conservative in times of scarce resources.
      I also think the natural tendency during times of scarce resources is for people and institutions to focus inward …
      I hope I am wrong!


  1. 1 A manifesto for academic libraries « Feral Librarian Trackback on September 28, 2009 at 8:36 am

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