Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Day 2: The Knowledge Worker Redux

Quotable quote:
"Computers will not replace librarians. But librarians who know how to use
computers will."

Another lively presentation by Doug Johnson (see also, Day 1). I didn't take down much notes for this presentation (words in square parenthesis [ ] are mine. Any inaccuracies in the recording or interpretation are my own):
  • A site that Doug recommended - www.habits-of-mind.net, Habits of Mind.
  • Mentioned about the role of librarians as "teaching patrons to learn how to learn"
  • End of his presentation, he shared a "Bear" story which I thought was really funny:
A man and a woman encountered a bear. The woman put on her running shoes first and then started to run. The man chided her and said, "What's the point? You can't outrun the bear." The woman replied, "No. But all I need is to outrun you."
  • Then Doug left with this provocative statement as food for thought: "My job in Minnesota is to teach my kids to outrun your kids in Singapore."
Pretty provacative. But it's true, isn't it? That's his job, and every other teacher and educator in the whole wide world.

But I was thinking -- would the statement hold true for the role of the librarian? Would it be possible for librarians to teach kids not to outrun each other, but to run together (i.e. collaborate)?

I don't know. Maybe I'm too naive in thinking that. Globalised economies based on "Free Market" principles inevitable lead to competition.

Still, a part of me feels it's possible for librarians to "make kids run together" -- by directly bridging the gaps or creating opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.



  1. Anonymous7:02 pm

    Just a little comments off the top of my head on the issue of "Competition" rather than the speaker nor the conference.

    Competition is just one of the means to achieve results. Personally, I believe that competition is in itself creating a zero-sum game - we are not maximising outcome and potentially causing inevitable detriment to another party.

    For the pieces making up a jigsaw puzzle, each piece has its dents and teeth, hence there is no need to compete and force-fit. Drawing an analogy Micheal Porter's strategies to competitive forces, its not always cost leadership (more of direct confrontation with competitors ie zero sum game), it could have been niche marketing or product differentiation (non-zero sum game). Hope I've got his strategies right (its more than 10 years ago I first read this).

    Only some harmless casual remarks :)


  2. Hi Nobita,
    In truth, what I believe is that competition is necessary (even thought if I'm at the receiving end, and even though it does in theory result in a zero-sum outcome). But what I have issue is excessive competition (i.e. greed) rather than competition itself.

  3. Well, it's kind of like those athletic competitions. Everyone practises running together. Someone's got to win, but everyone trains and improves together. And if the bear's got to eat someone, let it be one of those who didn't ever show up for practice..

    Of course, it'd be best if we could limit the bear to those who didn't show up by choice. Maybe that's the other role of librarians, to promote reading even to those who would otherwise never step into a library or read a book blog.

    I'm more into the poetic role of the old tribal shamans, keeping the stories alive through the verbal tradition. Maybe if people saw more of the wonderful world at the place where their minds and the books meet, then they would find the library a place of wonder and power too.

  4. Zim, that's EXACTLY the role of the librarian, IMHO. Well said.


Join the conversation. Leave a comment :)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.