In the Beginning…

Greetings! I am happy to announce that the ILP blog is officially up and running with this new post! I am Jacquie Welsh, one of the ILP Residents for the next two years. My co-resident, Mary, and I will take turns blogging each week. You can check for new posts generally around Wednesdays, and will we be continuously sharing cool new information we find each week through our Facebook and Twitter! Thank you for taking the time to frequent this site, and know that you will find that most up-to-date information about the program here. With that, enjoy the post for this week.

As an undergraduate, my freshman seminar was titled “Of Libraries and Labyrinths,” and gave me the opportunity to explore the writings and literature that details not just libraries, and not just labyrinths, but a search, or rather a quest, for knowledge. I was enthralled and overwhelmed all at once. From Gilgamesh and Jorge Luis Borges’ Garden of Forking Paths, to Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I began to see where literature, and the story of our world, has overlapped, or deviated. I began to understand that the origins and organization of stories all dealt with the same human aspects, regardless of culture or time, all to often it came down to love, greed, sustenance, and a thirst or quest for knowledge. What each character in each book gained from the knowledge acquired was even less of an understanding than what they had before, it pushed them to continue their quest. And from it came my own, never-ending search.

My work in libraries has ranged from processing holds, shelving reference, coordinating teen digital media literacy projects to my current position as an Innovation Leadership Resident. I received my MIRLS from the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science in December of 2012, and concentrated primarily on public library services for Latino and American Indian individuals and communities, as well as on cultural competency for librarians in the information profession. From this, I saw the web of information needs and quests for knowledge grow by leaps and bounds– from the discussions on what a culture may or may not want available as information for the general public, to how the current forms of classification (Dewey, LOC, etc) still “classifies,” the marginalized individuals and groups in our society in the margins. I learned of a need for more comprehensive, literacy-skill building programming, and a need for libraries to become hubs for civic engagement.

But upon graduation, I understood that I was never going to come up with the be all, end all solutions for the libraries I would work in and the communities I would work with. I could not be discouraged when something I created or implemented, even if successful at first, needed to be changed as time progressed. I felt it would be unrealistic to expect that an institution that documents, records and serves as a repository and center for the human experience would not advance with it’s populations, and rise to the challenges and needs that each new generation faced. And so I became even more energized and excited to help create the next practices for our information world, not just the best practices. I felt as if 21st Century librarians and information professionals could and should never assume or publicize that they could answer all the questions, or completely guide everyone through the mazes and labyrinths they faced; but they could at least get them to the next level and feel satisfied with the information and knowledge acquired thus far to move on to the next challenge.

So as I begin to work my way through the Innovation Leadership Program, I am trying to not let myself become overwhelmed with the new labyrinth ahead of me. The unknowns about the world of library services and how individuals access information can be daunting, from the influences of rapidly emerging technologies, and the desires to hold on to traditional library practices. Therefore, I hope to use this time as an opportunity to form good habits, further develop my professional standards. I hope to facilitate the creation of programming within the Los Angeles Public Library System that nurtures the community’s desire to learn, grow and share their knowledge to meet the challenges of the future and enjoy the beauty of the present. I look forward to documenting and sharing the experiences of the next two years through this blog, as well as adding to the body of knowledge surrounding the library and information profession.

–Jacquie Welsh

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