Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Librarianship: A Changing Profession

In Librarianship: A Changing Profession author Peter Young discusses the changes and challenges he sees for librarians of the future. The article was written in 1996, so some of what he talks about has already come to pass, but other things are still in a state of flux.

Young seems to have a rather negative attitude about technology in the library. He wistfully recalls the days when his father was a librarian and used actual books to create a bibliographic dictionary. In contrast Young says he spends too much time staring at a screen and using keyboards. He also makes several comments about the "fast paced changes" that technology brings. Attitudes like this are exactly why librarians are sometimes stereotyped as being stodgy and not willing to change. He also claims that librarians feel that they are losing control of their traditional role of choosing the "best" information and cataloging and indexing that information. I would argue that this is exactly the area librarians need to "take control of" in order to have a secure place in the digital environment.

Young brings up important issues that libraries will face because of technology. He wonders about telecommunication laws and their impact on censorship, intellectual freedom and liability. We know from current times that certain funding libraries receive to help defray the cost of internet access comes with a requirement to protect minors on the internet. This is a form of censorship that libraries have allowed because of the benefits of having internet seems to outweigh the downside of having to filter the content.

He wonders if print materials will be available at all in the future since so much government print was being moved online. This is still an issue that libraries deal with.

He then moves on to discuss how librarians might have to change in order to serve patrons in the increasing digital world. He doesn't give a lot of answers to this question, but he does point out some areas where librarians could branch out such as educating patrons about choosing good sources, or providing indexing/cataloging/or preservation of electronic items.

Young tries to make the point that moving to a more digital world will be as earth shattering as the discovery of fire. I'm not sure I agree with his point on this, but I do think that it will be at least as revolutionary as the printing press. They are both inventions that allow for faster and easier communication and dissemination of ideas.

Over all I didn't like the "sky is falling" attitude that Young had, nor did I like how negative he was about changes. Change isn't all bad, and it's important to keep an open mind about new technologies so that the useful ones can be taken advantage of while the less useful ones can be set aside.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.