Message from the State Librarian:

I am very pleased to welcome Stacey Aldrich to the California State Library and our library community in this great state.  Stacey and I, along with the rest of the managers and staff at the California State Library, are moving forward to create a learning organization that provides great customer service and promotes staff development.  Stacey will directly manage both the Library Development Services Bureau and the Information Technology Bureau.  I believe she has very relevant experience in these areas and can readily add value to library operations and services.  I will continue to directly manage the State Library Services Bureau, the California Research Bureau and the Administrative Services Bureau.  Although it is challenging in the state’s standard chain of command environment, I know that we will be successful in creating an exciting leadership team and moving the California State Library forward in the 21st century. 

CSL Connection interview with Stacey Aldrich, new Deputy State Librarian

How do you see libraries fitting into our shifting cultural landscape over the next 20 years? 

I see the future as a fluid and dynamically changing space, so I think that there are many possible futures for libraries. There are bright futures where libraries are valued community spaces for learning and information. There are darker futures where libraries are marginalized and in some communities disappear. I believe every day we make decisions that move us toward creating our future. It’s imperative that we continue to analyze and understand trends and patterns that affect the role of the library in each of our communities. Within a community’s library is the history and memories of that community, so while we keep up with technologies that change at the speed of light, we can’t forget the human component that informs our organizations. We must continue to identify white spaces by developing services and programs relevant to our many users. I think we must be opportunistic.

I am looking forward to creating the future with the California library community. I think we have opportunities to retool, redesign, and re-engage our communities by designing programs and services that not only meet user needs, but also surprise and delight them.

How do you see Web 2.0 activities moving libraries forward? 

Web 2.0 really refers to the growing number of social/collaborative tools that are available and popular on the web. I think the key for libraries is to continuously learn, play with, and understand how the tools are being used, and then identify potential applications for new and innovative services.  Although the rapid release of new tools can be overwhelming, we need to create space within our organizations to experiment with these tools.   

Some libraries have started using blogging to provide news and program information for their community (check out Tulare County Library in Visalia). Others have created catalog search widgets that Facebook users can put on their homepages. I’m sure there are many California libraries that are doing these kinds of projects.    

I think it would be great if we could create an online California sandbox where we could highlight emerging tools and brainstorm the possibilities.

What about the gap that folks leave in library organizations when they retire?  Is there really a problem in attracting qualified candidates to the library profession?  

The New York Times ran a good article called “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” this July [July 8, 2007].  I like that writer Kara Jesella deconstructs the “nerdy” profession myth and gives catchy examples of how today’s librarians have a passion for “pop culture, activism, and technology.”  But another important point she makes is that the “mass exodus” from our profession is a myth too.  Statistics prove that library school enrollments have actually increased over the past 10 years. 

We need to nurture people who are fresh out of library school and bursting with ideas about the integration of information and social collaboration. We also need to be able to mash up the experiences of established librarians with the next generation in positive and exciting ways.   The role of librarians is evolving, and we must continue to identify the important niches that we can fill in our communities.

Library organizations also need to be strategic about developing future library leaders. We need to nurture the staff that has a spark and passion for what they do.  

You clearly enjoy considering the future. You worked for a “futuring think-tank” in Washington D.C., and you are a member of the Association of Professional Futurists.  Can you explain to the layperson what a “futurist” is?

Futuring is more than just a profession; it’s a way of thinking, of seeing, the changes and fluxes inherent to mankind.  After many years of practice, study, and apprenticeship, futuring informs how I view human culture, change, and achievement not only at work, but everywhere.  

People are probably most familiar with the pop and commercial futurist, Faith Popcorn who has been predicting fads and trends since the eighties.  But futuring goes far beyond marketing and Madison Avenue (though many Fortune 500 companies have futurists embedded in their ranks).  Futuring is the method of analyzing, and breaking down the ripple effect of change.  Futurists examine how one change can create historical shifts in everything from business, to law, to social mores, to family dynamics, to academics.

It’s a long way from Omaha to California.  How will you relate your personal interests to your new life in Sacramento?

I’m a pretty simple gal. I like thinking about possible futures, reading lots of magazines, shopping, gadgets, baseball, traveling, and hanging out with my husband. Oh, and movies – especially movies about the future such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, Sixth Day, and It’s All About Love. I think Sacramento, and California as a whole, has so much to offer in terms of opportunities to do all of these things. I look forward to traveling and getting to know everyone!

I’m really looking forward to more Northern California weather - this summer I loved the dry heat and the wonderful cool at night.  One thing is for sure, I won’t miss the Omaha winters!  The temperature was 20 degrees below zero for a month last winter.  When we ran from our library to the coffee place across the street, our eyelashes froze in the seconds it took to make the dash.  I’m also excited to experience California seasons.  I was an Army brat, but grew up mostly on the east coast where the seasons are wonderful but perhaps not as subtle as they are here.



The California State Library

  © 2004 The California State Library.  All rights reserved.

The California State Library
914 Capitol Mall • P.O. Box 942837 • Sacramento, CA 94237-0001