I’ve probably seen the announcement and comments on at least half a dozen blogs by now.
For the One Big Library Unconference, that is. To be held June 27, 2008, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. Organized by York University Libraries.
Here’s the blurb:
“It seems like there are lot of different kinds of libraries: public libraries, school libraries, university libraries, college libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, corporate libraries, special libraries, private libraries. But really there’s just One Big Library, with branches all over the world.”
The One Big Library Unconference is a one-day gathering of librarians, technologists and other interested people, talking about the present and future of libraries. It’s organized and sponsored by York University Libraries and the YUL Emerging Technologies Interest Group.
The first paragraph is in quotes–but with no source or link.
The list of participants already includes a bunch of people I know (at least virtually) and respect: John Dupuis, David Fiander, Amanda Etches-Johnson, John Miedema, Connie Crosby, William Denton, probably others.
I’m sure it will be an excellent day. I wouldn’t be going even if money and time allowed: It’s directly opposite my travel day for ALA Annual in Anaheim. (Well, hey, it’s a Canadian conference. Why should they care about ALA’s schedule?)
And there’s something about it that bothers me. Namely, the premise as stated in that first paragraph.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it as a reality or as a desirable future. I don’t think of Harvard College Library as a branch of The ARL Library, much less Mountain View Public Library, Harvard College Library, NYPL, Hewlett-Packard Corporate Libraries and the Poy Sippi Public Library as all being branches of One Big Library.
I think of all these as distinctive and distinctly local institutions–institutions which, being libraries, are really good at sharing and should get even better at it. But sharing is quite different than being a branch of a whole.
John Miedema’s attending, so I’m assuming the “slow library” perspective–a distinctly local view, where a library is distinctly part of its community–will be represented. I hope so, at least. That’s certainly not the thrust of the unconference description.
Semantics? Maybe–but, as I discuss in an upcoming C&I perspective, semantics–the study of meaning in communication–is to a great extent what makes us human.
So, to all my friends up north, hope you have a great unconference (I’ve never been to one, and that should change), but you can put me down as disagreeing with the anonymous writer of those quoted sentences.