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The Atlas of New Librarianship [Hardcover]

by R. David Lankes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 4, 2011 0262015099 978-0262015097 1

Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning; and he suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities. The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. Lankes recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities. To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the field that can guide explorations of it; more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action.Copublished with the Association of College & Research Libraries.

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The Atlas of New Librarianship + Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today's Complex World + Networked: The New Social Operating System
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Editorial Reviews


One committee member declared, "It made me think critically about our profession and our future.... I was taken out of my comfort zone and that was a good thing." Other members praised the Atlas as "challenging," "complex," and "exciting both in its ideas and its design." --ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award Jury

"[T]he text covers such a vast array of pertinent subjects that almost any reader…may find a few topics of personal interest." -- The Futurist

"Deep thinking, beyond brands, down to the core concepts and competencies that define librarianship. Lankes creates thoroughly described verbal and visual explanations of the relationships between the many disparate parts that make up our professional whole." -- Jessamyn West , community technology librarian, blogger, and creator of

"The Atlas is not a book; it is a manifesto, a set of principles and convictions aimed at shaking new life and belief into a field that too often fears for its own future. Read it and be prepared to act." -- Andrew Dillon , Dean and Louis T. Yule Regents Professor of Information, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin

About the Author

R. David Lankes is Associate Professor in Syracuse University's School of Information Studies and Director of the Library and Information Science Program there.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (April 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262015099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262015097
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

R. David Lankes is Professor and Dean's Scholar of New Librarianship and Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. Lankes has always been interested in combining theory and practice to create active research projects that make a difference. Past projects include the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, the Gateway to Education Materials, AskERIC and the Virtual Reference Desk. Lankes' more recent work involves how participatory concepts can reshape libraries and credibility. This work expands his ongoing work to understand the integration of human expertise in information systems.

Lankes is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today's society. He also seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. In this capacity he has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation including at the National Academies. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada, the Harvard School of Education, and the first fellow of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy.

Customer Reviews

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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
The fundamental point of this book is to examine librarianship through a single framework. In this case the framework is outlined at the very beginning. "The MISSION of LIBRARIANS is to IMPROVE SOCIETY through FACILITATING KNOWLEDGE CREATION in their COMMUNITIES". Each of the capitalized words serves as a theme or thread to launch into a deeper conversation.

The essence of this book is taking the profession away from philosophical worldview focused on books and artifacts by taking us toward a worldview focused on knowledge and learning (and really communities). This knowledge and learning takes place through conversations. New librarianship is not about serving as a gatekeeper of culture but about facilitating conversations that foster knowledge construction.

The book inspires one to think critically about their profession and the role the librarian plays within the community. It encourages a call to action! Some call it a manifesto, and I would agree. Be prepared to be challenged and changed by the concepts found within the Atlas of New Librarianship.

The cataloger in me needs to say that the book is well researched and presented. The index is done well, and the references allow for a deeper engagement with the themes or agreements.

The book's supplemental website and iPad app are wonderful additions, and do really encourage a conversation around the threads and agreements found within this book. Both of these additions make the price a little more bearable.

I strongly encourage librarians, library boards, library students, LIBRARY EDUCATORS, and those who love libraries to pick up this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for new students and old professionals January 24, 2013
By jlyn_81
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly organized, beautiful text, with well-structured diagrams and illustrations. Librarians in every field would benefit by considering the ideas presented here, especially as we explore new horizons in the information world.

My only complaint is the book's large and awkward size. You would think that a book written for librarians would be designed for convenient shelving. I guess they figured we were all up for the challenge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating Knowledge in Communities October 27, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very engaging and energetic mapping of the landscapes, purposes, mission and required knowledges for the modern librarian in any specialty - produced with much vitality, beautifully illustrated throughout and inspiring
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atlas of new librarianship August 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love it, really. It filled all my expectations. Read it all, follow the videos and lectures, and am writing a book for the Spanish speakingcolleagues in Latin America. A rare opportunity.
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