About the Atlas

The Book
Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? In The Atlas of New Librarianship, R. David Lankes offers a guide to this new landscape for practitioners. He describes a new librarianship based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning; and he suggests a new mission for librarians: to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. Lankes recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

To help librarians navigate this new terrain, Lankes offers a map, a visual representation of the field that can guide explorations of it; more than 140 Agreements, statements about librarianship that range from relevant theories to examples of practice; and Threads, arrangements of Agreements to explain key ideas, covering such topics as conceptual foundations and skills and values. Agreement Supplements at the end of the book offer expanded discussions. Although it touches on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action.

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The Website
This companion website serves 3 purposes:

  1. As Companion to the Book: additional materials, extensions, and navigation tools are online and can be used to update content in the book and help you get the most out of the Atlas.
  2. As Classroom: online videos, links, and activities help make the concepts of new librarianship real.
  3. As Participatory Space: the Atlas is not complete, and will never be. New librarianship is a dynamic and expanding concept, and it requires your input.

It is the last that is perhaps the most important. The core of the Atlas is about conversation and the means of facilitating conversations: access, knowledge, environment, and motivation.
The site is the access; the Atlas, videos, and short courses constitute the base knowledge of new librarianship; integration with Facebook and other social media tools provide an open environment; and we’ll do our best to motivate you.


Click for a video on the structure of the Atlas

This site is supported with a grant from IMLS


About the Author (updated from book version)
R. David Lankes is a professor and the Dean’s Scholar on New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, director of the library science program for the school, and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. Lankes has always been interested in combining theory and practice to create active research projects that make a difference. Past projects include the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, the Gateway to Education Materials, AskERIC and the Virtual Reference Desk. Lankes’ more recent work involves how participatory concepts can reshape libraries and credibility.

Lankes is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society. He also seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. In this capacity he has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation including at the National Academies. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada, the Harvard School of Education, and the first fellow of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.
R. David Lankes’ Home Page