Oh boy, do librarians ever have a PR problem. We are the generation, ladies and gentlemen, with our mentors and our mentorees, who will need to redefine our own genre. The inherent job description of a banker or lawyer or teacher hasn’t changed much over time, and neither has librarian (as many forms that all of those things take). The way the job gets done has certainly evolved, but something unique is happening as the public perception of a librarian becomes almost archaic in comparison. We’re just changing with the times like everybody else.
Hot topic on my mind lately: ebooks. As a student in the core 200, 202, 204 classes, I encountered many discussions on the future of books, generally, and libraries, specifically. There was a general unease partnered with stubborn advocacy when pondering the prospect of the library as one big automated vending machine, or the outright extinction of printed books altogether. If Google is going to organize all of humanity’s knowledge, then who will bother to use the library?
Well, first of all, Google is not likely to be successful there, despite valiant efforts. A vast majority of information, even online, is behind firewalls and passwords and prompts to enter your credit card information. Libraries strive to get patrons past these barriers – for free. Secondly, people still prefer human interaction over artificial intelligence. Thirdly, what about people who don’t even use the internet?
It’s an interesting time to be entering the field, and I don’t know of one SLIS student who hasn’t been peppered by well-meaning friends with questions about the stability (sanity) of studying a field which is often perceived as stuffy and out-dated. The possible replies are endless, and you will come to build your own arsenal towards changing those misperceptions one by one, but returning to the realm of ebooks I offer this blog post (despite the wealth of typos) as more food for thought.