For the last several years, many evangelical seminaries (Fuller and NTS come immediately to mind) and their professors have been pumping out books and courses related to the mission of God, the mission of church, missional ministry, etc. The idea that instead of sitting in churches waiting for people to come in, Christians should go out into the world and engage it in love.
While a good enough idea I guess (I won’t discuss the many reasons it can be problematic here), it’s been repeated ad nauseam. It’s what I couldn’t help but think of when I was listening to a lecture in the New Librarianship MOOC and David Lankes was talking about getting out from behind the reference desk and into the community.
I tweeted a paraphrase of what he said:
I got a bit of pushback, asking for some examples of what that looks like. And I was pleased that what I came up with was basically my professional life. I’m not just a librarian. My network does not exclusively contain librarians. I do my best to actively engage in the community I endeavor to serve: that of theologians and clergy. I try to go where the conversations are – on Twitter, at conferences – participate in them and offer my expertise as appropriate. I try to get my name out there, not as a grab for prestige, but to help facilitate knowledge-sharing. When people need help finding some information (or someone else to work out ideas with) they know who to ask and where to find me.
In this way, I can appreciate a kind of “missional” librarianship; one that’s based more on relational learning than a capitalistic transaction of information. I love this idea of embedded librarianship, where I can really get to know my community (and they get to know me) and we can expand intellectual horizons together.
(Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on the Keegan’s blog.)