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'Atlas of New Librarianship' wins ALA 2012 'Best Book in Library Literature' award

March 01, 2012

Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

The American Library Association has chosen a book written by School of Information Studies Professor R. David Lankes as its 2012 “Best Book in Library Literature.”

Lankes’ “The Atlas of New Librarianship” was named winner of the annual American Library Association’s (ALA) ABC-CLIO/Greenwood award, the ALA announced. In naming the book’s selection and praising its innovativeness, the ALA said the Atlas “speaks to a new purpose for librarianship: the facilitation of knowledge creation in librarians’ communities,” while the author “portrays a vision of the profession that is based on improving society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” and of learning “that is created through conversations, versus librarianship that is based on books and artifacts.”

Selection of his book for the annual ALA award is especially gratifying since it represents the recognition of his peers, Lankes says.  When first working on the idea for the book and speaking to various publishers, they all recognized that the book would offer new ways of looking at librarianship across the domain, Lankes says.

“There was really a need to have that conversation,” he says, and now, he finds it rewarding that “people are responding well to that.” While the book “presents some provocative ideas, it was intended to begin dialogue, not shut it down, and I’m glad to see that people recognize that. I look at the award as meaning that the practice is willing to have that conversation and that the book is recognized for an important conversation."

The awards committee also praised the book for its “unique visual map of ideas and their relationships to theory and practice.” Kathryn Deiss, content strategist for the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), described it as “a platform for vital conversations about the future of librarianship,” noting how its “unusual format presents more than 140 Agreements (statements on aspects of librarianship) and visually represents the threads that connect key ideas.”

Lankes’ concept of a new form of librarianship began in 2006, when he was working with the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy and wrote a white paper on library conversations. “I had a fantastic time working with students, some of the faculty at the iSchool and some fantastic librarians all around the country,” Lankes says. “I had a lot of help and a lot of people were part of making this happen.”

The book was co-published by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, and the MIT Press. Its companion website is:

Lankes is a professor and the Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at the School of Information Studies, director of the iSchool’s library science program and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. Known as a passionate advocate for librarians and their essential role in today’s society, he has a longstanding interest in combining theory and practice to create active research projects that make a difference. 

He has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education and transportation, including at the National Academies. He also has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada and the Harvard School of Education and was the first fellow of the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy. He co-created the AskERIC project with Michael Eisenberg and Nancy Preston, and within that work, created one of the first 100 web sites and the first web presence for CNN, the Discovery Channel and the U.S. Department of Education.

Lankes has authored, co-authored or edited 15 books and written more than 30 book chapters and journal articles and pieces for the professional audience. In addition, he has been principal investigator on more than $13 million of competitively awarded research, as well as serving as a researcher on numerous projects, and has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the globe. He received his B.F.A. in multimedia design, M.S. in telecommunications and Ph.D. from Syracuse University. 

The award will be formally presented at the association’s annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., in June.

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