21st century libraries

Many students in LIS programs arrive with intimate knowledge of a local community. They may have grown up in a town with a library, and they want to work in a community just like that one. We need to ask these students to step outside their own worldviews to understand and appreciate the vast differences in cultural and economic realities in the world today. We need for them to understand that American librarianship is historically a Western, middle-class profession that has always served to validate middle-class values and to acculturate immigrants to literacy and productive citizenship. We need for them to understand the interconnectedness between literacy and culture, and that when libraries provide services perfectly tailored for local communities, these services often appear alien or foreign to outsiders. Mostly, our students need to understand that being part of a community can be both comforting and limiting. They need to understand that most people are members of multiple communities, and that membership in community is fluid. Our students need to learn to create open, diverse communities and to challenge provincial ones. Literacy is a gateway to power. As institutions committed to developing literacy, libraries need to empower others and resist the temptation to hold on to power for themselves
—  James K. Elmborg, “Framing a Vision for 21st-Century Librarianship: LIS Education in Changing Times”