“Michael Scotto’s Just Flash is a children’s book about a strange animal trying to figure out its identity.
Flash is the only animal of his kind, but he wishes he could just belong to a pack like everyone else at the zoo. He first tries to become another animal, in order to fit in. He tries to be a giraffe; he tries to be a gazelle; he even tries to be a zebra. Along the way, though, Flash realizes that it’s more rewarding to be himself – no more, no less.
“Libraries and librarians crossing over from print to digital must feel a lot like Flash. Even newly born entities like the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) are finding themselves in an awkward period of not knowing what they should be.
“I was a guest at a recent DPLA ‘Audience and Participation Work Stream’ meeting that brought together participants with a variety of perspectives and experience, but joined by a deep concern for the future of libraries. We met at the Dallas Public Library, just after the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting at the nearby Convention Center. Our charge was to help articulate ‘why we need a public library when it’s all on the web’ and suggest how to attract involvement from all types of libraries.
“The DPLA has the incredibly difficult task ahead. It must weave together many distinctive strands of activity emerging from a strong but inchoate desire for the missions of libraries to continue in new more powerful ways. It’s encouraging to me that the DPLA leadership is spending a lot of time learning about the needs and desires of diverse communities. But I think that sometimes our understanding of what libraries are today holds us back from seeing what the library movement could be tomorrow. Separating the essential from the institutional manifestation is not always easy to do.”
From Eric Hellman’s post on Go to Hellman, Libraries Happen