Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Final Frontier

This week I was lucky enough to have a tour of the F. Franklin Moon library, on the campus of SUNY-ESF. The librarian was quick to point out that the stacks also function as a living room for the community, hosting student groups, providing places to study, to hang out, to play games and do jigsaw puzzles, even to take a quick nap. I was pleased to hear our guide (library director Stephen Weiter) talk about the use of space, and how one of his biggest goals for the library is that students will feel comfortable there.

Part of the reason the tour resonated with me so much is because it dovetailed beautifully with this week's discussion in 511. We spent most of our class considering the implications of space, and how libraries function as places. We looked at the library-as-community-space, and what roles librarians should play as the caretakers of that space. We also talked about the notion of a Third Space, and how libraries can serve as that center of community life.

For me, the question is especially interesting--I'm becoming ever-more confident that I want to use my skills to practice librarianship in non-traditional settings. As an embedded librarian, I likely wouldn't have a space to worry about, at least not in the same way as my public & academic colleagues would.

So then the question becomes, "What sort of spaces WOULD you have to worry about?" I can certainly imagine that I might end up curating a social space on the web--project teams of all types are increasingly virtual, and even teams with regular face-to-face meetings might still collaborate in a digital manner as well. Depending on the situation, the best forms of collaboration might change, so I'd better learn to use all of them. Twitter hashtags are great for public communication, wikis are wonderful for aggregating opinions and information, Microsoft SharePoint might be the best platform for in-house get the idea.

The values are still similar--In a digital space, I still want to create an environment where others feel comfortable, and can create knowledge together. The facilitation skills become slightly different, but the guiding principles stay the same. Knowing the best ways to provide information with/to my chosen community will stand me in good stead.

What are your experiences with space in non-traditional settings? Let me know in the comments!

Credit: NASA, ESA, and F. Paresce (INAF-IASF, Bologna, Italy), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee

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