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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speaking to libraries

I've just come back from giving three talks to librarians in as many weeks: Burley, Idaho, Elko, Nevada, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

All were fascinating. I like librarians and library people. And although there are some regional differences, I think we have far more similarities. (Well, OK, Jefferson Parish, just outside of New Orleans, dealt with two hurricanes. That's kind of unique. I hope.)

My talks to these groups have centered around three themes:

* brain research. Science has learned a lot about how and why we think, how we learn to read, and why that's so important for humanity.

* models for library development and market penetration. Some librarian pioneers from around the country (and beyond) have done some useful experiments that point the way for the rest of us. Those models and trends need to be shared -- they'll save us time and money.

* combining all of these things into a new story that will work on building not just library use, but library support. Today, outside my own library, there was somebody gathering petitions to roll back taxes to the point where local municipalities, libraries, and schools, would be driven into penury, to our mutual detriment. OK, free speech, but a testament to the profound lack of civic understanding of too many of today's voters. But that same brain research tells us that cold, hard facts probably won't change any minds. We need a new and more compelling frame. The best research on this topic to date is OCLC's "From Awareness to Funding."

At any rate, those are the topics I converse with librarians about these days. If you want to know more about those things, email me. Have opinions, will travel.

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