by Diana Menashi
One topic that has been raised by my professors regarding the future of the field is the relationship between librarianship and technologies, such as e-readers (Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook), social networking sites (Facebook), and an ever-expanding selection of search engines from Google to Bing. The popularity and frequency of use of these technologies raises the question as to the role of libraries and librarians and the way in which they are perceived by the community at large and/or by corporations in the present information age. There are those who argue that the presence of these technologies renders or has rendered libraries and their services obsolete. Still, there are those who argue that the information searching and research skills of librarians are invaluable and will continue to be so as the ease of access to information increases.
Libraries and librarians have addressed this issue by maintaining an active online presence on the Internet through social networks, and by promoting services through library websites. This serves as an example of the ways in which the field considers users’ needs and desires when identifying platforms that would be most effective at providing services.
I would like to see the profession ‘reborn’ in the minds of those who perceive libraries and librarians as antiquated artifacts of the pre-information age. I would like to see libraries and librarians demonstrate that skills such as online searching are much more complex than a search engine would have one believe – that constructing a search query requires deeper thought and consideration beyond imputing two or three word phrases into a search box. I would like to see librarians show their users that the skill set that they have acquired and developed over the years goes beyond tasks such as reference services and cataloging.
Librarians should conceive of ways in which to demonstrate that their skills could be used to directly impact the success of the firm or the corporation. Librarians should breathe new life into the profession by stepping beyond the desk, identifying problem areas, and using their skill set to determine a possible solution. Their skill set would provide a unique perspective on the problem which would serve as an additional option for the heads of the firm or the corporation to consider when devising a solution. This would dispel the idea that librarians’ skill sets can be easily duplicated by computer programs and machines which serves as evidence that human involvement is still a necessity and an invaluable tool within the information age. Librarians should continue to develop Knowledge Management so that it is easily understood by those not versed in it. This could ease librarians’ attempts to explain its purpose and therefore increase the extent to which it is sought out by users and applied by librarians which would be mutually beneficial to both parties.
Diana Menashi is an MLS student at St. John’s University with a concentration is in special libraries. She is planning to take courses in law librarianship to acquire an additional skill set.