The intent of this blog is to explore the field of LIS from a grad student’s perspective. Over the next semester (and perhaps after), I will attempt to explore, evaluate, and possibly redefine my assumptions (listed below) about the field of Library Science and Information Technology, the direction libraries are going in, and what this means for librarians.
My interest as a student and future professional centers on one day working in an Academic Library. Though I will not limit myself to posting about academic libraries, I do hope to dig deeper into the work of an academic librarian. For now, I will make my assumptions a bit broader, in order to allow for the largest possible scope of investigation.
One week into Library School, these are the four assumptions I have made about the field of Library Science. I am curious to see how these change or evolve over the next two years. Remember, they are only assumptions from a beginner who is just beginning to explore this extensive field. I ask you to think of it like an explorer in space, who, for the first time, is confronted with the very real possibility that perhaps, he is not alone in this universe.
1) Librarians will have to adapt in order to stay relevant in an increasingly technologically based society.
This assumption almost seems too obvious to put down. Of course, libraries will have to adapt, what doesn’t? How many places have had to change their business model to incorporate the ever-growing technological dependence of this century?
Now I am not saying that it has to be like this academic library at Drexel University (at least not tomorrow), where we just throw away our books and paint the walls so that they are a dry erase boards (although, can we paint every wall so that it can be used as a dry erase board?), but we have to treat a Library as what it is: a business. It may not be a for-profit business, but a business it is. A library at its very core offers a service to patrons. If it no longer offers a service that people want, is it still necessary? Do we keep it in business just to say we have saved libraries?
My assumption is no, of course not. So, in this generation, I think librarians are really going to have to evaluate the directions they want to take libraries (which I believe they are already doing), in order to provide the same services it always has, but in a way that serves the needs of a new generation.
2) A librarian’s responsibility within twenty years will hardly involve books, rather it will center on different technologies: computers, tablets, e-readers, and electronic resources.
A librarian is hardly defined by books or card catalogs. He or she welcomes a louder environment, in which people can make noise, study, and even eat (gasp). For a library to not be defined by book is important in keeping libraries alive. Information used to be expressed through paper. This is no longer the case. A librarians main goal is to get to its user relevant and important information. Sure, some of this will be through books, but a lot of it will be through things that put an e in front of it (e-books, e-journals, and so on). It scarcely matters the package the information comes in, so long as there are people who can get the package to you. So, yes it may be books, but, given the technologies we have (and how many resources it takes to print one book), it probably will not be.
3) Libraries (specifically public and academic) will undergo such drastic changes, most people will not associate it to what we now consider a Library.
When most people think of librarians, an image like the one above pops in their head. Half the battle will be to change the image that comes into people’s head. Getting the new technology, training with it, and being able to train the public with it, being the other half.
How will a libraries change its image. They first have to change the library. If they haven’t already, they will need to integrate this new technology available (computers, tablets, e-readers, etc.). They will need to make itself more welcoming as a relaxed environment. This may scare away people who like to think of a library as a quiet place, but ultimately it may bring in people who do not like to think of libraries at all.
Then, after the inside is changed, make it known to the public. Social media can have a great impact. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, for example, can really be used to bring in people who wouldn’t necessarily come.
4) Despite what people say, libraries will remain relevant as they have remained relevant for centuries.
I am of the opinion that so long as there is information, there is a need for people to be the caretakers of it. Google is a complex organism, it helps to have a human Google to sort through it.
As I said earlier, these are only assumptions. I will take care to explore these thoughts and see where they take me.