Wednesday, March 4, 2009
excitement about the future of libraries
After last week's gloomy post, I'm now going to write about why it's an exciting time to be a librarian working in libraries. (Or an information professional working in a resource center. Or whatever the latest lingo is.)
-First of all, there is a LOT of noise and junk out there on the interweb. Librarians are some of the right people to be paying attention to it, keeping track of it, and trying to filter and make sense of it. They are ready and willing to sort and organize and prioritize it all. Librarians are happy to act as knowledgeable signposts, creating and evaluating new tools, calling a spade a spade independently of commercial interests. The role of 'assistant for finding stuff' is one we have had since the profession started. Just because a lot of the stuff is now online does not guarantee it's easy to find, and strong evaluation and critical thinking skills are crucial. (I'm appalled to notice that the latter are missing in a lot of current students.)
-Also, here are some positive library stories I've read recently:
Best Careers of 2009: Librarian from U.S. News and World Report
Bullet Point: “We live in Shakespearian Times” from Syracuse's School of Information Studies David Lankes.
29 Reports about the Future of Academic Libraries. OK to be honest I have not read each report, but it's a sign that academic libraries are being treated seriously...
-Instead of simply moving away from books and paper, I'm noticing that my relationship with them is changing. If something arrives on my desk as a paper product, I figure it must be important. So I've caught myself immediately and sometimes mistakenly assuming a book or a printed document is important. I mean, if it is NOT important, why bother with the printing process? Why bother turning it into a physical object? I know the web is not as ephemeral as it sometimes seems, but in terms of how I keep myself organized, I still hold books as the most durable, transferable medium. (And the most convenient, despite their inability to hyperlink without an technological intermediary.) If I'm going to have a long-term relationship with certain information, I want the book or a print-out. And yes, I do use zotero and delicious and a host of other online tools, but I still feel this way.
Again, most of what I'm saying here I heard in library school. I heard all about how the roles of libraries and librarians are changing so that they would not even be recognizable to librarians of the past. But you know what? I was excited about this challenge then, and I'm still excited.