Friday, August 05, 2005

GO to the Town Hall Meetings - Alumni Meeting Recap

I am very proud of Marie and Glenn, and Vicky, and Bill and others who have kept this CLIS alumni group together for so long ( At this week's meeting, they did all they could to support their colleagues and CLIS students earnestly working to make a better world for archives and library professionals in Maryland --all in an environment that is very very challenging, where communication and problem solving tools and practices are less than ideal from all perspectives.

It was a very instructive for me, someone who's trying to be as practical in life as I am curious in my dreams. Perhaps CLIS' mission and future will be taken up and helpfully separated from this unfortunate turn of events (by that I mean this Wasserman flap) and a productive public dialogue will result and include a larger group of people.

We need people to attend the town hall meetings about Wasserman, even if attendees don't say a word. The presence of people will speak all that needs to be said. Go, even if you think the Wasserman issue is closed. It may indeed be, but it's linked to questions that will never be "solved". CLIS is going to need a lot of help if it's going to improve. It's administration has chosen not to improve just the library but the whole mission of the school it seems, as I understand what's being offered instead (in its place) and what is really behind this "money generating research." That's a tall order for CLIS. Improving Wasserman would've been easier, I would think.

Anyway. Some thoughts of my own as a result of the meeting:
Archives, library, and information professionals at CLIS (and beyond) would love to know:

  • what about the profession would move you to participate in addressing the challenges we face in a University-based community of alumni? As a student group leader, as one involved in regional archives issues, I am very interested in how to make a more dynamic community (not that what's now is bad)
  • how to produce more rigourous dialogue reflected in our regional and national professional literature, oral debate of the culture of information and the challenges the new Internet-driven flexibility creates (other professions have ways of dealing with the apparent unique and precious nature of each task)
  • when will we collectively end the culture of oppression at CLIS and beyond that drives us to say, "I and other librarians and archivists can't raise money", "I can't negotiate for a higher salary," "I can't make informed contributions to the profession," "I'm just an alumnus," "I'm just a student." While UMCP will never be a small private, some communities actually "value" the alumni over the current students when it comes to building community and connections to industry (two issues I link to Wasserman, though perhaps I'm alone in that)
  • how do we rethink the financial infrastructure of the information profession? The periodicals question is a great example in the library community, and the archives world has its own challenges. The business model of information is imploding, and we need to know how that's going to leave us when the dust settles (15 years from now...)

Ok, these are multiple and murky questions. If not in the Wasserman debate, then perhaps in other fora CLIS can support a community of professionals who will lead these answers not accept the closure of library after library.


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