Importance of a Worldview

Map Location
B, C, 4
Thread Location
Page 15

Kelly Menzel

Conversation Starters

1. Where do programs fit into the current worldview of librarians? Although not artifacts, programs are often based on artifacts (books, games, even people in the case of guest speakers) and are usually highly focused on the tools used to accomplish a specific program’s overarching goal. For example, your typical book club may be created to increase critical reading of books within a community, to create a sense of togetherness by having a large number of people read and think about the same thing (or talk about topics vaguely related to the book, more often), or even just to broaden people’s horizons by having them read something they usually wouldn’t. These same reasons, with slight tweaks, often drive other programming, such as gaming programs, film showings, and cultural events. However, librarians usually become so focused on the program (reading, showing a new film, inviting traditional storytellers) that the original meaning behind the program is lost and the reason becomes “to get people to show up” or “to have a neat program.” In addition, programs vary widely by the type of library, as do the reasons behind them. An IL program may be created at a school media library to help students learn how to research effectively for classes, while the same program may be required by a college and integrated into the school curriculum or required for new employees at an office. So, do programs ultimately fit into the current artifact-based worldview, and where would they fit in a new, integrated worldview?

2. Once a uniform worldview is created, how do we go about making others aware of it from an outsider’s point of view? Hopefully, having one will make the profession more unified in general and libraries will work “better” from the eyes of the patrons and other professions, which will in turn draw the attention of others. But is marketing the worldview to others advisable or even feasible? Worldviews are hard to explain, especially to those who aren’t a part of them. At the same time, though, library members (and potential members) have a right to know what the worldview is behind their libraries, just as other professions and scholarly fields do. Placing the worldview by a library’s mission on the Web site is one thing, but truly showing others the librarian’s worldview is entirely different.

Related Artifacts

Agre, P. (1997). The end of information & the future of libraries. Progressive Librarian, 12/13.

Annotation: This short article gives an overview of several previous worldviews in the information world. It also provides a potential future worldview for librarians to look to and touches on how such a worldview may affect how librarians and libraries work. It’s interesting not only for the worldview it posits, which is similar in many aspects to that the Atlas appears to be calling for, but for the fact that it recognizes and explains changes in worldviews. The author recognizes the dialectical nature of today’s society and the current lack of this in libraries, as well as sees communities as tied by common threads but still vastly different from each other. He feels that librarians need to reach out and help support the “collective cognition” of their communities. It also illustrates how changes in a worldview affect the world right down to terminology. Although it is from 1997, the ideas it puts forward are still valid and worth looking at.

Ewbank, A. D., & Moreillon, J. (2007). Is there a teacher-librarian worldview? This we believe…. Knowledge Quest, 36(1), 12–15.

Annotation: This article explicitly looks at the possibility of a specific teacher-librarian worldview, asking early in the article:

It is clear that all the authors in this issue feel a responsibility to go above and beyond their immediate work environment to advocate for the profession at large. We wonder if this sense of responsibility emanates from a shared worldview. Do we, as teacher-librarians, have a collective set of beliefs and values that underpin our work? How does our worldview influence our work as advocates? (Ewbank and Moreillon, 2007).

The authors give their own ideas as to what that particular worldview is, which, coupled with similar testimony from librarians in other specialties, could be helpful in determining what is similar and different about the various library positions. The authors’ conversation also highlights issues stemming from the current lack of common worldview. The article is also helpful from a more basic standpoint, in that it gives a clear definition of worldview and how individuals form their worldviews, complete with examples.

Herring, J. (2008). Teacher librarian world view (2) and fish pie. James Herring’s Blog, September 3, 2008, 9:28 am. Retrieved September 10, 2009, from

Annotation: The author references Ewbank and Moreillon’s article and brings up several points it misses, including the fact that worldviews vary based on culture and geography, making the united worldview they propose unlikely. He uses an interesting analogy about fish pie recipes. Although he then digresses into actual recipes rather than introspection, he does make a valid point. This, however, could not easily count as a stand-alone piece; it needs to be used in reference to the article it discusses.

Sager, D. J. (2001). The search for librarianship’s core values. Public Libraries, 40(3),

Annotation: The article examines a set of “core values” that can help librarians recognize and articulate their beliefs, as well as providing new library students with a strong foundation. Although this is slightly different from a common worldview and more explicit (he is also only looking on a national level), his ideas as to why this is needed are similar to the reasoning behind a common worldview. They articulate the need for librarians to have something concrete in common from which to frame their decisions and help the public (and, likely, themselves) understand what librarians stand for. At one point, he states, “it is important to remember that without common values, we are not a profession.” This statement seems worthwhile to look at in more depth. The core values, as created by the ALA Core Values Task Force, may be useful to look at when searching for wording and components of a common worldview.

Weissinger, T. (2003). Competing models of librarianship: Do core values make a difference? The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 29(1), 32–39.

Annotation: This article contends that “cultural diversity and recruitment practices within academic libraries are limited by the profession’s worldview.” Although the author’s comments on the hiring of minority librarians aren’t relevant to the Atlas’ goal, the article does contain some interesting points. The author is against the “distillation” of what librarians do and stand for into even the eight core values Sager references and proposes for enduring values rather than common values to be listed. There is an interesting list of historical librarian positions based on culture, and the author brings up questions regarding the worldview American libraries promote (i.e., a Western one). He comments on the limitations such a worldview creates, both in terms of space, and in the concept of who is a proper librarian. In addition, his philosophical connections may be worth looking into in more depth.
  • Jan Goossenaerts

    Regarding the worldview, pls take a look at the Actor Atlas  (start at ). It takes the view that knowledge creation is needed (also) in all sectors of industry and for all functions of government (facilitating these sectors). Hence the need for an Actor Atlas listing all roles (and articulating learning targets for them), accompanied by development dashboards via which local stakeholders (incl. librarians?) can localize the learning targets and spot suitable reading materials.