Do we want to end up like this?
(Photo from alcuinbramerton.blogspot.com)
I have read all of the readings and class blogs and I am still conflicted. I agree with the idea of transparency but have a hard time fleshing that out. This is no small task. I like the examples I have seen and read about where libraries have created blogs and invite participation. Most libraries are transparent in that their board meetings are open to the public and their strategic plans are posted on the library website as well as yearly reports but these things don’t encourage dialog. Where I work if someone places a suggestion or comment in the “comment” box they will always get a personal response if the person left contact information. How many people will go through the effort of writing note is questionable. I’m not always comfortable with the idea of airing disagreements or differences of opinion in an online forum but that may be partly my generation. I love the idea of this venue being used to generate ideas to benefit those who use the library or work in it. I think libraries need to start small and build confidence in this area. A staff wiki where staff can access information and give input is a great idea. I don’t believe everyone needs to have access to all of the information of the company or library. I thought it was kind of funny that as I was reading The Transparent Library: Measuring Progress that there was a link for us to see a “Libraries using Evidence” blog from librarians in Australia and I couldn’t view it. The message said “This blog is open to invited readers only”. Oh well…sometimes you may only want input from individual segments of your community like the main stakeholders/users.
The series of articles we read by Casey and Stephens (2007-2009) were very helpful in giving concrete ways to flesh out this concept of transparent libraries. I wonder how they were received by library management. I feel it is a rare library director who is able to actively seek the opinions of their staff unless they have repeated contact with them. I guess that is partly the job of the managers to get that information and take it up the chain but it would be nice to have the opportunity to give input in a more personal way. Librarians and management are invited to strategic planning events but not other staff members. Not sure how you could go about getting this changed. I found the article The Open Door Director which appeared in the Casey & Stephens series on The Transparent Library to be very important for library directors to think about and act on. Libraries can’t exist in a vacuum. Directors need to let their staff and community in as part of the planning process so they feel some ownership and will then in turn want to protect it if funds get cut.
Casey, M. & Stephens M. (2007 – 2009) Road Map to Transparency: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6510682.html
Casey, M. & Stephens M. (2007 – 2009) Selections from The Transparent Library: