dospuntocero: Five Years Old!

A fifth year anniversary is traditionally celebrated with wood...

A fifth year anniversary is traditionally celebrated with wood. As the connotations of, err, the inflexible and coarse nature of lumber don't seem to quite symbolize my aims for this column, I thought I would compromise and go with the symbol of the tree instead, which implies strength and age/wisdom. Trees also indicate permanence- but there again, maybe my metaphors aren't quite right, as, with great sadness, I have decided to put the dospuntocero column on hiatus. This post marks my 30th column, and I'm finding that I have less and less time to write as I become more and more involved in other projects. However, the column won't be shuttered completely. Instead I plan to leave this open, firstly in case anyone else would like to try their hand at writing a column that vaguely touches on Latin American librarianship and technology, and secondly, just in case I want to come back, in the spirit of all good superhero cartoons… So this final post will reflect on the past five years as well as trying to offer some thoughts about the next.

The column has taken on a variety of identities since its inception. Starting out in the print newsletter, migrating to the interim SALALM blog (remember that?!), before ending up on the new SALALM webpage where it was also tweeted and facebooked, I have, nonetheless, always tried to remain true to my primary aim, which was to take a huge pin to the bubble surrounding “web twopointopia”, saviour of All The Things in LibraryLand. From the very first column, I tried to present web 2.0 as so much more than a trend, or a tool that was limited to technology. Instead, as early posts demonstrated, I implored you all to think about web 2.0 as a state of mind as I looked at its early impacts on language learning, collection development and outreach, among other areas. In later columns, I started to examine web 2.0 within broader and emerging fields, such as digital scholarship, information literacy and professional development, while trying to also provide quick and simple introductions to these new worlds.

From my 2014 vantage point, the focus on web 2.0 now seems, well, a little quaint… In a few early columns, I'm definitely guilty of technological determinism (where technology drives society, rather than the other way round), there are a couple of “digital natives” thrown in there (AAGH!) and wow, apparently, judging by the fact that I dedicated not one but two 2010 columns to them, I apparently, once, really liked subject guides… On the plus side, at least I've remained steadfast in my dislike of Facebook... The column has also got a lot longer- it started off at a mere 600 words, and now regularly tops 1000, as well as way more delayed- having been known to be published over three weeks past my deadline… More seriously, I'd like to think the columns have got more critical, as we start to see the problems of using web 2.0 tools to outsource our work to unreliable vendors and third parties. Posts have definitely also become more process driven, and focused on the library's role in education as I started to drink more and more of the information literacy kool-aid... Over all though, I stand by most of what I have written over the last five years, and hope that it has been of some interest to a variety of SALALMistas.

What does this mean for the future? So, firstly, I'd love to welcome anyone else  who would be interested in writing a column or two. It's been a wonderful experience, and I'd like to thank past-editors Daisy and Nerea for taking a chance on the unknown British librarian who wrote to them asking if she could have a column in the newsletter. If you could be tempted, please let me know!

Secondly, even though the focus of my work has moved away from technology, and, yes, web 2.0 may be slightly old-fashioned, I'd like to hope that SALALMistas will keep thinking about technology in libraries with that same critical eye. While I don't think (I hope!) we will ever revert back to the heady days when you literally couldn't breathe without running into some egregious new act of web 2.0 evangelism, it's certainly true that libraries still seem as threatened as they ever were- which runs the risk of technology being seen as the only way to make us relevant, hip and engaging. I'm no luddite- and past enthusiastic subject guide columns aside, nor am I recanting all my previous statements… However, while I encourage everyone to keep playing around with technologies, events of the past few months alone show how dangerous an unquestioning attitude to technology is. (NSA wiretaps, the Heartbleed virus, the internet as invisible sweatshop etc etc) That critical eye is more important than ever before, as privacy settings keep getting adjusted, technologies perpetuate tired old racial and gender stereotypes, and they just keep spying.

More importantly though, I hope that these events, as well as this reflection on how far we've come, will help us realise that technology is not the answer to our perceived irrelevance. We don't need technology to be hip, cool, and down with the kids. We don't need technology to engage and motivate. We don't need technology to federate our interoperable, metric-driven, engagement centered, agile marketing for discoverability. Instead, we need to stand up and be louder than ever in defense of our unique values and much-needed skills, the original and best method of tackling our problems.

Thank you for all your support :)

Alison (@alisonhicks0)

University of Colorado, Boulder