The stately Stanford University campus was the setting for the First Annual Stanford/California State Library Institute on 21st Century Librarianship, and the mood was irrepressible high energy! Nearly 140 librarians from all types of libraries and from all across the U.S. as well as Canada, Australia and Africa, gathered for a week in August to hash out the growing pains of our profession in the face of the sea changes that technology has wrought. Representing law libraries were Michele Finerty, Orange County Law Library, Ruth Levor, University of San Diego Legal Research Center, and Diane Reynolds, Los Angeles County Law Library. While a week in August in Palo Alto may not be everyone's idea of paradise, the climate was certainly more temperate than the level of mind-bending activity!
Each day got off to a rousing start with two essential staples: a fare of excellent food and outstanding, high energy, high level speakers! The event began with a call to arms from California State Librarian Kevin Starr, exhorting the participants to sample fully from the cornucopia of opportunities to learn and develop that were planned for the week. And for the next six days, participants were alternately fed by some of Stanford's top class chefs and worked by the Institute's hard driving Executive Director, Anne Marie Gold.
Most galvanizing of all were the members of the team of experts that was assembled to guide librarians in their quest for solutions to the questions of how to best optimize the integration of technology into our service programs. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Stanford Professor David Kennedy focused our thinking about adaptive leadership with a brilliant analysis of Dwight David Eisenhower in his talk, "The Warrior and the President." Senior Correspondent Andrew Leonard of the online magazine Salon.com and Ekaterina Walsh, Young Consumer Analyst for Forrester Technographics, sent us careening into the world, minds, and online habits and activities of Generation Y, the entering class of potential library patrons, and into the emerging forms of "publishing" (already an anachronistic term?). Mike Keller, who serves as Stanford University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources, Publisher of HighWire Press, and Publisher of the Stanford University Press, serenaded the group with "This Magic Moment" as he charted in detail the many new courses for information professionals to travel and urged us to also consider the implications of preservation of digital information. And Amal Johnson of Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners, a technology-focused venture capital firm, spoke from the vantage point of a successful businesswoman about new corporate and management structures for operating efficiently and effectively in the 21st century.
And those were just the appetizers! There were discussion groups led by the Institute Advisory Team and workshops led by dynamic experts such as Susan Kent, Los Angeles City Librarian, Eugenie Prime, Manager of Corporate Libraries at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Dan Greenstein, Director of the Digital Library Foundation, Joey Rodger, President of the Urban Library Council, and the list goes on and on. There were case study assignments for participants to solve and presentations for them to prepare. Many of these presentations, as well as many of the conference handouts, will eventually be available at http://institute21.stanford.edu. For librarians interested in not just remaining relevant but forging ahead in the quest to provide and to mediate free and open access to information in the 21st century, I heartily recommend that you visit the site and seriously consider attending a future institute.