Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PL 75/10: Digital and multicultural practices

Filed under: 1bib, statistics — plinius @ 10:52 am

Next week, the library education department in Oslo celebrates its 70th anniversary.

On Wednesday Thursday there will be a Nordic conference on public library research. On Thursday Friday there will be three parallell seminars for library school teachers.

The invitation

I will attend the group called ’Management and the development of services’. Here we will study – I quote – libraries and other information service organizations as societal institutions. This can be done from several perspectives and angles, such as

  • issues of leadership and management;
  • knowledge management;
  • development of services;
  • outcomes and values of library and information services to individuals, mother organizations and society in general;
  • the role and impact of libraries and information service institutions including social, political, economic, cultural and historical aspects; etc.

It would be interesting to get an overview of and discuss:

  • How do we teach these subjects in our different institutions?
  • How is the balance between issues of general leadership & management and leadership & management linked directly to LIS institutions?
  • How is the balance between leadership & management issues and issues related to the institutions social and political role?
  • How do we deal with and incorporate consequences of the digital and multicultural societal development in our teaching on this group of subjects?

My personal response

The agenda asks

  • How do we deal with and incorporate consequences of the digital and multicultural societal development in our teaching on this group of subjects?

My personal answer would be:

In this field I am interested in three main topics – as they apply to libraries and library education:

  • The global transition from industrial to digital forms of knowledge production
    • My general perspective is socio-material, practice- and action-oriented
    • Some relevant names: Tavistock, Bourdieu, Foucault, Schön, Drefus, Flyvbjerg
    • Today, socio-material largely means socio-digital: social media, e-learning, CSCW, e-government
  • The growing importance of evidence-based practice. This implies an increasing emphasis
    • on documentation
    • on quantitative reasoning (statistics)
  • The triangular struggle between different forms of organization, power and discourse:
    • practice-oriented professional
    • research-oriented academic
    • and control-oriented bureaucratic

As a statistician, with some background in sociology and philosophy, I now concentrate on the quantitative or numerical aspect of these major changes. My hope is to contribute to a more extensive and better grounded debate about libraries through a focus on statistical arguments. To incorporate means to practice.

Specifically, this work includes the following practices:

  • participating in IFLA’s Statistics and Evaluation Section (SES)
    • this includes coordinating the development of a full day course in Statistics for Advocacy – to be included in the IFLA’s BSLA programme
  • participating – as their statistical consultant – in a Norwegian network (Samstat), which unites library organizations with an interest in statistics as users and contributors
  • writing research papers on library statistics
  • giving lectures on statistics at conferences
  • supervising students who work with statistics-oriented projects
  • developing and running workshops on library statistics in Norway and abroad
  • writing and editing two dedicated blogs on statistics – one in English for SES (GLOSSA) and one in Norwegian (Samstat)
  • writing and commenting on statistical issues in the library press and on my other blogs (Plinius in Norwegian and in English)
  • publishing processed statistical data from Norway and other countries as spreadsheets on Google Docs for consultation and reuse (Plinius Data)

On the digital side, all papers, lecture notes, blog posts and presentations are put on the web, under a CC licence. I also try to put the statistical data I work with on the open web in formats that are useful for others. This aspect of the work could be called data curation.

I try to address the multicultural aspect in several different ways:

  • by planning parallell language versions of the Statistics for Advocacy course (English/Spanish/Mandarin) from the moment we started
  • by defining the GLOSSA blog as bilingual in English and Spanish
  • by blogging about statistics in English as well as in Norwegian
  • by introducing and labelling most of the Norwegian tables in Plinius Data in English (or both languages)

From my producer’s point of view, this range of activities takes rather more time than concentrating on academic publications that generate official publication points througfh Frida or Cristin. But I hope it is useful for the concumer of the knowledge we (hopefully) produce.  It contributes, at least, to a more varied form of life.



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    Pingback by PL 30/12: LATINA at IFLA « Plinius — Saturday, August 4, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  2. […] PL 75/10: Digital and multicultural practices. Walking the talk […]

    Pingback by PL 31/12: Indicators at IFLA « Plinius — Saturday, August 4, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

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