R. David Lankes …In Six

This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions

I discovered R. David Lankes wonderful Virtual Dave…Real Blog through The Unquiet Librarian’s blog.  From 1/3/2012

Naomi: What is your dream job and why?
R. David: Honestly, I have my dream job. As a professor I get to work with librarians all over the world, I get paid to think, and I teach the most amazing students. A lot of folks think of academics as detached, or working on esoteric problems. I take a different perspective. Academia at its best can take on big problems with big impact without being weighed down by legacy services. Doing this in partnership with practitioners guarantees you don’t get stuck in the Ivory Tower and work on the wrong problems. It is also a place to build new services.

Naomi: What blogs should we be reading?
R. David: You know, it’s odd, but I don’t really think in terms of blogs anymore. I have a sort of personal learning network setup that consists of people I pay attention to. Some of them by reading their blogs (though fewer fewer), some through Twitter, some Facebook, some in their published writings, and a lot simply by email, phone calls, and meet ups.

So some of the folks I pay attention to online are Buffy Hamilton, Joyce Valenza, The Librarian in Black, Karen Schneider, Aaron Tay, Jessamyn West, Stephen Abram, and Michael Stephens. Other folks I keep up with/consult/think with are folks like Jeff Penka at OCLC, Joan Frye-Williams, George Needham, Anne Craig, Meg Backus, Sari Feldman, Chuck McClure, Scott Nicholson, and Jill Hurst-Wahl (whom you can keep up with online, I’m just lucky enough to have an office down the hall from Jill and Scott).

Also, I make all my introduction to librarianship students blog, so those are fabulous (and mostly public) to read.

This is different in technology where I am addicted to the RSS feeds of places like Engadget, Gizmodo, Slashdot, and Ars Technica.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
R. David: That’s tough, I have a lot of favorites for different reasons. The State Library of Illinois has some amazing folks working there under very tough conditions. I have a special place in my heart for the Free Library of Philadelphia with all the work that we did. The Seattle Public Library is just cool. The University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library, the Library of Congress, and the Schloss Leopoldskron library in Salzburg just make me feel smarter by walking into them. But if I had to pick one, it would be the Fayetteville Free Library here in New York. Amazing people, forward thinking, great facility, and in my backyard.

Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
R. David: A tie: The Professor and the Madman. Great story, and shows what you can accomplish through crowd sourcing on a massive scale. Second would be The Great Influenza: fabulously written book, and for some reason I like books about disease. Now if you want to go into science fiction, we could be here for a while, Dune, Old Man’s War…

Naomi: Favorite thing about library technology?
R. David: There’s so much opportunity for improvement.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
R. David: Be flexible. As a librarian you should be prepared to work in any library type, and also in many industries. Be flexible about where you want to work, and your title. I define librarianship by the impact and means, not the building.

R. David Lankes is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, the director of the library science program for the school and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. Lankes is a passionate advocate for librarians and their essential role in today’s society.