Librarians it’s time to bust apart the age-old stereotype of a snaggle-toothed, bun toting, people ‘shushing’, tweed wearing, scary, mean spinster ladies (and why are we seemingly affiliated with cat ladies? When did this happen? I am sadly allergic to cats, but I do have dogs, am I therefore a dog lady? Why do I feel like I should be offended by this?). How did this stereotype come to be? In todays heavily technology influenced society there is no time for ‘shushing’, only time for action. If librarian’s and the libraries they operate within do not step up and keep up with the times then they will fall behind and current and future generations will suffer without the know-how that we as librarians could be providing them.
What do we as librarians in an academic library provide our clients?
- Information literacy classes
- Classes on the use and benefits of endnote
- Research assistance, both walk up and book ahead
- A quite place to study
- Reliable access to the internet and technical support to aid with issues
- A variety of resources that can be borrowed, including laptops
- And numerous other services
Many libraries are starting to integrate similar services utilising web2.0 technology, some experience success with online librarian chat services, facebook, twitter, instant messaging, forums etc. the possibilities are really only as limited as your imagination. Daily people are finding new and innovative ways of exploiting the technology available to us to promote services. Through embracing these developments in technology we are actively aiding people to continue to embrace libraries!
So what is current library life like?
Busy, busy, busy! Everytime one turns around there is another better technology emerging, new and better…
- Smartphones!!! Like apples new iPhone 4 and androids like the new Samsung Galaxy SII
- Personal Computers like the new ASUS EeePad Transformer which performs the roles of a laptop and tablet in one
- Bluetooth technologies such as this work in progress that may eventually replace computers
Libraries of all shapes and sizes need to be aware of these emerging technologies and keep abreast of them in order to maintain the sustainability of their libraries. Staff need regular professional development to ensure they are all versed in the use of these technologies in order to be able to capably assist their patrons.
What does the future hold?
Truly, this question is unanswerable, with the vastness of opportunities being constantly developed the face of libraries could change as much in the next decade as it has in the last decade.
Libraries have changed dramatically over the past decades, gone are the physical card catalogues, replaced with online catalogues, print journals and books are now largely accessible online and with the emergence of kindles and smartphones that have applications enabling the reading of ebooks, electronic copies are steadily growing in popularity.
One can only hazard to theorise what libraries will look like in 2020 or 2030, it is likely that the steady boom in technological development will continue and more amazing technologies will once again totally transform library operations. Already one can access information literacy classes online via You Tube will something similar to this eventually supercede ‘in-library’ classes? Many researchers have theorised that libraries will become largely digital, meaning that patrons would no longer have to visit a library in order to access anything, all the resources and assitance will be online. 24/7 access to a librarian from the comfort of your own home. I wonder will this lead to a nation of ‘work from home’ librarians? Surely if there is no need for patrons to come to the library, there is no need for staff to either.
There are many crazy postulations one could make about what will be, it is a very exciting time to be working in libraries and I personally believe that even though we have already been completely transformed, we are only at the tip of the iceberg and there are many much more fabulous things to come… I can’t wait!
Will this be what becomes of libraries? Or will they look more like this?