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R. David Lankes Gives Away Digital Copies of Book, Shows Grace

The American Library Association (A.L.A.) stated in a press release on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, it "has consciously and vigorously embraced the position that libraries of all types are the locus of community engagement. As the facilitator of the first round of Midwinter Conversations, R. David Lankes, professor at Syracuse iSchool, knows first-hand ALA’s commitment to community engagement and to turning outward."

Through the generosity of Professor Lankes, librarians are being given the opportunity to access for free his book Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries for Today’s Complex World. One can download this book for free or read it through Medium through his blog by going to the following Web page. Also included are brief videos explaining specific concepts and providing practical examples.

R. David Lankes is a Professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. According to the ALA, "Lankes is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society."

He also seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. In this capacity he has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation including at the National Academies. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada, the Harvard School of Education, and the first fellow of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy.

His book The Atlas of New Librarianship, co-published by the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the ALA, and MIT Press, won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature.

By way of explanation about why he is making this offer, Lankes writes, "In the two years since Expect More has been published, it has sold thousands of copies and been used by librarians and those working with libraries. By making the digital version of the book freely available it is hoped that more librarians can use the book to engage their boards, principals, and provosts in a constructive conversation about the future of their libraries."

In addition to making the book available, it is hoped that the library community can engage in a conversation on how to improve the book and its impact.

The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is supporting this project.

On Wednesday, February 12, 2014, Lankes also wrote a touching and humorous blog post about having stem cells separated out of his blood so in the future they can be re-introduced to his body after he undergoes chemotherapy so powerful he will need to regrow blood marrow. He wrote, in part, "For the past three days I’ve lay in a bed as my blood flows from my chest into a machine that separates out my stem cells and then back into my chest. The stem cells are pumped throughout the day into a collection bag. This bag is literally my life as next week I will go into a hospital and voluntarily take a lethal dose of chemicals. Chemicals that will kill off any remaining cancer (hopefully). Chemicals so potent that they will wipe out my bone marrow. Chemicals so toxic they will also rip away at my entire digestive track leaving blisters and sores in their wake. Without that bag of stem cells to regrow my bone marrow I will die. No way to heal, no way to stop bleeding, no way to feed my body the oxygen it needs to live."

I was marveling at this sci-fi like procedure when I saw that bag of stem cells (i.e., my life) was put into a Ziploc bag and transported to a lab in an Igloo cooler. That’s right, the inventory of crucial pieces of equipment to keep me alive include the same equipment used to safe guard cheese sandwiches, and transport six-packs of beer to the beach....

I pray you don’t have to fight cancer to see the extraordinary. Sure, we see it in toys and gadgets every day. We have become enamored with iPhones and smart watches and marvel at how fast/small/stylish they are. But try and recognize how incredible the everyday is. Next time you wash your hands, remember that indoor plumbing has saved more lives than any miracle drug.

See the spectacular every day in the love of friends and family. When you wish your son would just be quiet, remember the wonder and thrill of his first word. Make the next peck on your wife’s cheek rekindle the passion of your first kiss. And laugh – every day – laugh. The world we live in is a wondrous mundane miracle. Rejoice in it.

Keep Professor Lankes and his family in your thoughts and prayers.