know-mad \nō – mad\ n 1: a term coined by John Moravec, refers to a new class of professional whose skill sets allow them to quickly adapt to changing work environments and challenges. n 2: a mobile professional characterized by collaboration, and innovative approaches to creative problem solving.
W ith the 2ND decade of the twenty-first century just begun, we found ourselves in search for the name of a magazine about the libraries of our time, straddled between the analog and digital, amid reinvention so that it may continue to serve, to bring new and better services to society. The time has come to shed our skin. We must leave behind the old image of a book vault, or silent and sepulchral study hall, and announce to the world that the new library is an open space, a place without barriers, that enables social exchanges and the development of creative innovation labs. Understanding thusly that the library is an engine for innovation, all roads lead us to Knowmads.
It is difficult to define the librarian of today, a multifaceted professional, expert in the management of knowledge who in addition to ordering and cataloging books and movies, is capable of a million other things. They are professionals who connect with their library’s community to better understand their needs and implement programs that adjust to their demands, be its weather forecasting, cooking courses or a community’s new theatrical releases. Today’s multidimensional librarians learn new and arriving technologies at breakneck speeds, work with online communication networks and facilitate social assistance programs. The librarian is an expert in the exchange of information with other teams. Facing new challenges with enthusiasm, the librarian is not intimidated by the thought of failure.
Neither are we. We are fully aware that launching a magazine is an exercise in optimism. The bold iconoclastic design and unapologetically powerful images make this one an act of heroism. And, being that it is dedicated to libraries and everything that occurs within them, this is a declaration of irrational love. But we are certain that this endeavor is worth pursuing. The team at Knowmads shares in the principles of the librarian of the twenty first century.
We love libraries. There’s a wealth of reasons for this. It is well known to all that they are places where you can borrow books, music and movies, free, without the need to post collateral of any type. But, there are a million other reasons to love them: they are safe places for children, who can study while their parents finish their work day. They’re places where adults can participate in different activities according to their likes. Every social group can find documentation regarding the subjects that interest them. Even the most underprivileged will find a helping hand there. Libraries are buildings where no one suffers discrimination on account of their gender, race, religion or socioeconomic status, and neighbors gather to discuss local events. You can look for work, learn to cook or how to take care of a garden. In short, the life of the community flows through the library.
Libraries guarantee equality in terms of access to information and culture. They are also engines of our world’s cultural patrimony. Lewis Carroll, Stephen King, Barbara Kingslover among countless others, developed as authors within the warmth of their public libraries. If only for this reason they should be declared protected reserves, revered like a cherished park, with a special status to guarantee a minimum mandatory budget and the obligation to keep them open for all eternity. The list of benefits a library offers could be drawn out to the edge of infinity. Still, we would like to point out one more: the innumerable stories that takes place within their rooms that in myriad cases change the lives of their regulars. Some people learn to read. Other folks, get assistance with questions about social programs. And, some guests find the love of their life among the library’s books. Each one of these stories adds to the importance of the library, hence our obligation to it.
Being a librarian today requires a strong commitment to the community, an extra dose of determination and in some cases courage
T he changes affecting societies over the last number of decades have forced libraries to adapt to new uses. The internet came into our lives like a tsunami, and although it’s been difficult, little by little libraries have adopted the new digital consumption formats. In much the same way, the library has acclimated to advances in technology, it offers an example of graceful adaptation to a rapidly changing society. In a world that is becoming more heterogeneous every day, people that are different and minorities aren’t always easily, or quickly accepted. In the last few decades, the human landscape has changed dramatically. Today there are new types of families, more varied ways of engaging with and expressing one’s sexuality, and different ways to communicate. In this context, libraries play an important role illustrating the practice of tolerance and hospitality, embracing everyone without judgement but also helping everyone find an answer to their information needs. How many people seek answers to life’s questions within the pages of the books on library shelves? What number of adolescents turn to the library to seek answers to their questions about sexuality they’re too embarrassed to ask? What number of unemployed people will find work thanks to advice from a librarian?
Every year American libraries develop 5.41 million programs. Behind this number there are thousands of dedicated workers doing everything possible to improve the lives of every day citizens. They are the true artifices of the transition from analog to digital, of a transformation in which the library ceases to be a merely physical place, breaks barriers and becomes a place of encounters, a space of creation, and an institutional ally of the community it serves. Being a librarian today requires a strong commitment to the community, an extra dose of determination and in some cases courage. Librarians of today are the embodiment of Knowmads, creative innovators and motivated collaborators.
We strive, with our magazine, to give a voice to all those librarians, from libraries of every ilk, large and small, urban or rural, from libraries on the technological cutting edge to those that lack bandwidth. We have invited input from a diverse collective of experts in the fields of library economics, and sciences, in addition to creative thinkers, artists and library patrons. We’ve curated recurring sections such as, Enchanting Libraries, where we highlight special libraries from around the world, be it for their buildings, location, environment or their history. In this first edition, we wanted to start with the small rural library of Ketchikan, Alaska. We believe it deserves the honor for its majestic views and wonderfully cozy reading room with a fire place. In the section, Librarians Recommend, we share the literary tastes and book recommendations of librarians from all over the country. For this, we travel from Alaska to New York, where the employees of the New York Public Library recall the books that changed their lives. In Bookworms, we’ll be interviewing artists from every discipline to learn more about their relationships with libraries. In Pairings, we’ll pair books to the movies and records of our time with insights in to connections you may not have known or imagined. Knowmads is a live magazine that will evolve over the course of time we are open to suggestions from all our readers, and librarians. Knowmads is committed to the endeavor that all of us can find our third space, in the comfort of the library. We want to hear your stories. Together we can remind the world of the vital service libraries provide our society. What happens in the library, no longer stays in the library, because these stories deserve to be told.
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Albert Einstein