The Library of Congress just sat on the sidelines while this digital revolution took place. -Robert Darnton as quoted in today’s NYTimes article Library of Congress Chief Leaving After Nearly 3 Decades by Michael Shear.
Today the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that he would be resigning. On this same day, I and my amazing NDSR colleagues (all of whom have only been alive for Billington) were officially welcomed as the 2015 class of DC National Digital Stewardship Residents during an opening ceremony at the LC. These events intersecting so dramatically today have made me thoughtful about where we all will be in 10 years. Me, you, the cohort, the LC, our profession, our collections, our relationship and reputation with the public – all of it.
I’m not informed enough to argue Darnton’s quote about the LC’s past, but I do want to say that I am incredibly optimistic about where we’re headed. I think it’s hands-on, embedded residencies such as NDSR that are giving us a glimpse of what’s to come for our field- practice-based education, strong partnerships across organizations, and “mini” projects that reinvigorate organizational and individual capabilities and imaginations. As we heard many times at the conference, it’s also the cohort model that’s been an integral part of NDSR’s success, and I see this model only growing in popularity across the country. Young professionals need networks, and it’s empowering to think that we can build part of them out ourselves, with achievements gained though mutual support and a shared pride.
Let us not forget how the digital learning curve also flips the traditional knowledge hierarchy on its head. Programs that are modeled after NDSR will be successful because they reinforce how we learn from each other despite age or years within an institution. Empowering each other gets us where we want to be faster. Diversity of perspective makes that way more interesting.
So THANK YOU IMLS and the LC for not waiting on the sidelines for a program like this to evolve by itself, but instead, having the foresight to create opportunities for young information professionals to get in the game and do important work. LC -1 HATERS-0