Nice perspective from Anthony!
I come not to praise the superiority we feel about library service in the United States, but to bury it. This issue of VOYA [February 2016] concentrates on how technology continues to move evermore rapidly to the center of an information professional’s life in the U.S. In this constant narrative of technological advance, however, less apparent is how little we learn about the provision of YA services from other places. Professional curiosity ought to, inherently, take advantage of the growing transnational flows of ideas and communication. To not inform such curiosity represents either a stunning culture of laziness or, worse, supreme arrogance–an assumption that the U.S., by definition, simply owns the apex of YA library service. Increasingly, there are fewer and fewer excuses for this incuriosity and greater and greater professional need to pursue global experiences. This coming August 11th, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) is co-hosting a one-day “satellite” conference, “Child and Youth Reading in the Transition to a Digital Culture: Emerging Perspectives on the Role of Libraries” in Northern California.
The conference, sponsored by IFLA’s Libraries for Children and Young Adults unit, promises to bring librarians the world over to our shores–no passport required! Many international attendees will then fly to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in the annual IFLA Congress, between August 13-19, to meet, learn from, and interact with colleagues from all over the globe. (http://2016.ifla.org/) In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to establish relationships in South Korea, Africa, and Germany. In some cases, these relationships required travel, in others, not. Each experience sharpened and qualified my own comparative perspectives of what our profession claims to accomplish here “at home.” Not all countries, for instance, address youth services with relatively high paid graduate-degree-holding professionals. Not all countries envision or construct youth as mere at-risk candidates for adult status or projects for “development.” Neither does the U.S. corner the market on all of the important institutional resources required to support youth services professionalism.