Monday, January 17, 2011

Reading Two Books at Once

I’m in the middle of reading two books – which may not surprise those of you who only know me as a librarian but it is really going to shock people who know me personally. As strange as it may seem, I don’t read many books. One problem is that I can’t help but interact with the author and I feel compelled to dialog or do something with what I am reading. The more interesting a book is, the longer it takes for me to get through it. But I am committed to getting through the books I am reading now no matter how long it takes!

And now that I’m reading two books at once, something else is happening. I find myself integrating the two - even though they don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. They would definitely not be in the same section of a library. According to Dewey, one would be shelved in the 248 Christian experience, practice, life section with other devotional literature. The other would be found with books on social processes in 303.48.

The devotional one is Sacred Waiting by David Timms. When I come to a compelling thought, I quote him then write my thoughts and reflections in my journal. The problem comes in when every sentence is thought provoking! I not only want to write it down, but I want to share it with someone. It is designed for group discussion with a list of discussion starter questions at the end of each chapter. But I don’t wait for the end to get started "discussing it." (I do get the irony of this in light of the subtitle: Waiting on God in a World that Waits for Nothing.)

The other book I am reading is Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky. I wrote a book review on the follow-up Cognitive Surplus but hadn’t read this one yet. As with Timms, I want to dialog with Shirky. And I can’t help but think of ways to apply the concepts to the way the library does business. I want to stop and add an agenda item to my next staff meeting or begin writing my next Monday Musing for the blog. My undergraduate degree is in Socials Sciences so Shirky speaks my language.

I have only finished chapter two in both books but I already know where these two come together in my mind. Both authors make observations about our rapidly changing society.

How people think and communicate have an effect on the way the Library carries out its two pronged mission to 1) provide access to information resources and 2) develop information literacy for lifelong learning. Otherwise, the library becomes irrelevant. Further, the Darling Library serves the University’s overall mission to "empower students through Christian higher education to serve the Church and impact the world for Christ." This makes Timms’ challenges especially apropos to how we do business within the institution.

Don’t be surprised if you see more about these two books in future blog posts. I’ll be musing about them for some time!

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