Making a way to the place in future

by | Oct 20, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Suzana Sukovic

Thanks to Kristina Stoney for her generous permission to reproduce her and Nicolas Arney’s beautiful photos.
In transition (Turkey)

This week I learnt at some majestic places –
NSW Art Gallery, State Library and sandstone buildings of a private college.
However, the main part is happening right now as I am trying to make sense of
it, writing this blog at my desk – a very modest place of learning.

The week started with the ALIA Future of the Profession summit at the State Library when we tried to work out what the future holds for
us, librarians and other information professionals (see #alliafutures on Twitter). On Tuesday, it was the AIS ICT Integrators Conference where we talked about using wonderful digital tools
in a meaningful way in education, which refuses to change fast enough (
#aisitic). Anne
Cutler, Director of Learning at Tate, topped the week with a guest
lecture at the NSW Art Gallery.
In all these events, we talked about knowledge industries
and repeated the same questions: Will we
be needed in the future? Where is our place? What do we need to do and how?

Professionals in ‘easy target’ industries worry about copping another round of
cuts, but it isn’t the only problem. Even doctors wonder whether they’ll treat
sick patients in the future, I’d read just before the summit. Democratisation
of knowledge enabled by fast developments of ICT has quickly shifted our sacred
grounds leaving us slightly insecure on our feet.
People working in the knowledge sector have lots of
questions and doubts but, fortunately, they also have some (tentative) answers.
 Librarians, teachers and curators
believe that future knowledge will be shared, collaborative and learner/client-centered.
But, where will we be with our professional knowledge, authority, special
buildings and artefacts in the culture of Google, Facebook and Wikipedia? There, with people, working as facilitators,
we say.
 A key to that shared vision can be described in four points.
Checking it out (Casablanca)

1. People, our
students and clients, should be trusted to set their own learning agenda.
Kristina Stoney ( travels
around the world on her bike and engages students in challenge-based learning. Students
choose their challenge and find their answers thriving in the experience,
explain their teachers. 

Some community libraries have started people records
describing their unique knowledge. Community members can ‘borrow’ a person to
talk with them in the library.

‘We are misunderstanding what our public wants
from us,’ says Anna Cutler. She wants visitors at Tate to set up their own
gallery programs. Young people organised a festival at Tate gathering 20,000
participants who spent hours at the gallery.

People want to learn, to
participate and share. We have to allow them to tell us how.


Bread tools

2. Our tools and
are valuable and, often, unique. We need to use them in
partnership with other players.

Google doesn’t know everything, but makes an information
professional’s job easier, says Mark Pesce. Is this question Googleable? may be the question to filter reference enquiries. 
Today, a meme has come my way. The joke is about the
infamous question
Do you have that green book
by that famous guy?
But, the whole joke is a misunderstanding. The question
is legitimate. Librarians have reference interview, knowledge of literature and
search tools to answer questions that can’t be searched online, though Google
may come handy. Students need teachers to guide them, although YouTube is often better for
Our greatest tools are our mind and professional knowledge.
3. Values. What are our values? What do we mean by them?
How do implement them? –
are questions at the core of a learning transformation
at Tate. How do we recognise our values
in practice?
asks Cutler’s team.
Tyre inspection

4. Evidence is
crucial for change. In order to answer the questions about values, the Tate team
constantly gathers, analyses and shares data looking for evidence that they are
on the right track and finding areas for improvement. The title of Cutler’s
talk, Changing the refrain: creativity and the idea of learning, suggests
a creative change of the learning refrain. But, even a creative change, needs a
systematic, evidence-based practice.

Schools and libraries don’t talk often about evidence-based
change. They tend to be more focused on assessment of what they have always
done – How much has the reading improved?
Are we getting good HSC scores? How many visitors do we have in library spaces
and online?
In schools and libraries, we rarely gather evidence to inform change.
Perhaps, a lesson is in this point of difference. We should stop waiting for our
institutions for instructions and start gathering evidence of a change we want
to see and lead. That way, we’ll be a step closer to that future we envisage
for our profession.

A good place to start is at our desk.


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