Saturday, September 8, 2012

Participatory Culture, Participatory Libraries | Inside Higher Ed

From Barbara Fister at Library Babel Fish:
The fact is, academic libraries should be all about participatory culture. They are labs, they are workshops, they are studios for making new ideas inspired by old ones. We’ve gotten distracted by trying to look more like Google and Amazon (even though our pseudo-shopping platforms are never as slick). We’ve been paying too much attention to delivering what scholars ask for efficiently and helping busy student shop for quotes they can use in a paper. That’s not really what libraries are for.

Participatory Culture, Participatory Libraries | Inside Higher Ed

We have been trying to think of an alternative name for our developing learning commons, especially for when the working concept becomes embodied as a populated physical space within the library.  My pet idea is to use the terms 'scholar' and 'workshop' in the new name.  This starts with my view that the main use of informative sources in college is research and scholarship.  That students are here as apprentice scholars and so are here to grow in their participation in communities of scholarly and professional practice. That we are dedicated to the kind of locally regulated sharing that is key to successful commons (from since the Middle Ages).

In reading the obituary of Elinor Ostrom--the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for her research on commons--I learned that she chose the name "Workshop" for her research center particularly because it was to be a place for students and faculty to work together and collaborate as masters and apprentices, and a place for these scholars to participate in contributing to the Knowledge Commons (see Understanding Knowledge as a Commons, edited by Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-08357-4).

And now Fister comes along.

So how about "Scholars' Workshop" as the name for our learning commons space?