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Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 1 - Libraries and librarianship - where are they going?

Session 1:
The OCLC report about individuals’ perceptions of libraries is enlightening and frightening at the same time.  The report analyzes how “we” see libraries and their place in society.  Some sacred cows are taken down a peg, most particularly the importance of the library website as a research tool.  I must say I’m not too surprised by this notion.  I see the library website as a gateway into research and reference tools. Many of these tools are proprietary, that means that the library (your tax dollars or tuition dollars at work) pays for access to the databases of journal articles and indices, reference tools and encyclopaedia, statistics and mapping programs, and more. If we don’t teach our patrons that these resources are available and ‘better’ than those available on the web, then they won’t consider using these special tools.  And if we as librarians don’t feel comfortable using the fee-based tools when answering reference questions then we are also to blame.  Google and other search engines have made searching so much easier and faster.  What we (librarians and the general public) forget is that Google and Wikipedia do not contain the sum total of knowledge available.  There are many resources that are not web based.  As you progress in your studies, I hope you will continue to try all types of reference tools, paper and web based.  See what you think.

The report is great in that it places libraries in the center of our communities, filling a need for so many people of all ages. I found the statement that libraries are all about BOOKS reassuring [38].  But what does that mean? And most importantly, what does that mean to you?  Where do you fit within this report.  Reactions please!

Charles Curran’s ten year old article sounds like a pep talk with too many questions.  Curran tries to define librarianship. How would you define librarianship? Is it a profession, an academic discipline, or just a technical job that anyone can perform? I react to each point and each sub-question from my experience and background as a practicing librarian and researcher. You need to consider each question, each element of Curran’s.  These are questions you will tackle throughout your coursework and your career.  Me, I what to know where Curran stands, not just the questions he can compile when considering each element of librarianship.

McGuire seems to be searching for what he can do with his degree.  That may be you in a year or so.  Keep an open mind and consider what how you can put your knowledge about information and access to information to work in the world.  As technology changes and the web morphs into whatever it will become, there will always be a place for librarians and information professionals. 

What types of non-traditional jobs are you seeking?
As the 21st century solidifies into something we can understand that’s separate from the 20th, how do you see librarianship changing? I see it more interconnected with knowing where information is located and how to use or access that information. Using print and digital resources together is essential for reference librarians who want to help their patrons find what they seek. How will you blend your skills to become better librarians and information seekers?

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