Alright, I will freely admit I just put LCSH in the title to phish librarians – so please no hard feelings from my cataloguing friends (please do watch the video at the end) … but on a more serious note:
There are some things that most of us would agree – to standardize seems to make sense or be in our best interest, or, the public’s best interest. For example, no doubt, a lot of us would agree that a standardized minimum wage can be a good thing. And, of course, there are lots of safety standards that make a lot of sense.
However, I think we can get caught up in believing that to standardize provides the best public service where libraries are concerned. Or, better put, I think we need to be careful in the application of standardization with community led library services – especially since the needs of various communities (both geographical communities and communities of interest – e.g. web 2.0 users, youth, immigrants, etc.) vary so greatly. “Models” across the board, do not always address specific concerns of diverse communities. For instance, “Pilots” do not always work the same in every different community, or, neighbourhood. What makes sense at one point in time or place, may not at another. Each community is different.
From a community led perspective, it may be important to create standardized processes, which provide a set of guidelines on how to implement community led techniques (e.g. asset mapping, community entry, etc.). However, even these standardized guidelines, allow for a certain level of variability or adaptation, in order to allow for the flexibility need to work with communities. There application should not be a standardized linear (predetermined) process. If it is predetermined, it is not community led.
Even our own individual interpretations of policies, and, guidelines may differ – causing variations in a standard. I think we need to be more comfortable working with flexibility – and support each other when we make decisions outside of the “standard.” This is how and when innovative new practices/services/programs can be identified, created, and evaluated.
So, rather than be annoyed when another person makes a decision against the norm, we need to try and understand why the decision was made and how that might affect us in the future. I think we get too caught up with equating standards with “fairness” and equality.
I think we need to put that idea aside, and start applying equity. Standardized guidelines are great to have in place for the times when you need them but I do think we need to be flexible in their application.
** For some chuckles – clink on this link to applying cataloguing standards onto community
Special thanks to others for input on this blog posting~!