A while ago I was wandering around the internet and came across this blog post:
Ivy Blossom captures the dilemma eloquently, with just a touch of snark. Don’t get me wrong. Judicious snarkiness only adds zing to an argument, and their point is one with which I agree wholeheartedly.
I have worked in an academic library (not as a librarian sadly) for more than fifteen years. As part of the library’s IT team, I have witnessed the evolution of technology and its profound impact on libraries and librarians. When I started, there were a grand total of 20 public computers in two libraries. Most staff either shared a computer or used a text-only mainframe terminal.
I have gone to library school and come out the other side, and the experience has only reinforced my belief that modern librarianship is about information in whatever form it may be found. And that form, more and more, is digital. To that end, I chose electives that strengthened my understanding of technology.
I have met and spoken with many librarians over the years. My only reservation with Ivy Blossom’s blog post is that most of the newly-minted librarians I have met are digitally savvy, comfortable teaching a class, and deeply enthusiastic about technology and the fast pace of technological change. Only a few fit the cardigan-wearing, hair-in-a-bun, sensible-shoe-wearing, bookish, introverted Luddite stereotype. Maybe it’s a question of regional variation. I don’t know Ivy Blossom, and I don’t know where they live, not even which country. Maybe it’s mostly “quiet, introverted, solitude-loving white women who love books” who enrol in library school in Andorra or Turkmenistan or wherever. Or maybe I’m the statistical anomaly.
But on the whole, the main point of Ivy Blossom’s blog post has merit. The future of libraries and librarianship is digital, and I would argue that the future is now. The library where I currently work is undergoing major renovations and a complete re-branding. And as each area comes online, more an more technology comes online with it. The need for the kind of librarian that breaks the stereotype is only going to increase. It’s an exciting time to be a librarian, so come out from behind that stack of books and let your hair down. Break the mould and embrace the change, because, in the words of a former university librarian (said in a weighty English accent), “Change is the only constant.”