I am Erin Lee Barsan, your guest blogger for the month and I am currently in my second semester of library school. I’m ashamed to admit that I have not had a lifelong love affair with books, nor do I have many fond memories of visiting the library as a child (although I am definitely making up for lost time now). My background is in design and photography, and I came into this field with the intention of focusing my graduate studies almost exclusively on archives. The thought of being a bona fide librarian had never crossed my mind…until now. The more I read and the more classes I attend, the more I am realizing the incredible and diverse opportunities that this field has to offer. My world has been turned upside down over these past few months, and I look forward to sharing some of my experiences and discoveries with you all over the following weeks.
The other day a colleague emailed this article to me from The Atlantic Cities, “The Future of Librarians in an EBook World.” Upon reading the title, I fought the urge to immediately roll my eyes. I may be new to the profession, but I am already tired of listening to the debate over the future impact of EBooks (e.g., “In 10 years no one is going to be reading physical books!” “Au contraire, EBooks are to us now what VHS Tapes were to the 80′s!”). Regardless, I gave the article a chance and was pleasantly surprised by the author’s perspective. Instead of attempting to predict the future, we are presented with interesting ways in which libraries are gaining funding to use technology while still remaining patron-centric. For instance, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is investing in a concierge-like reader’s advisory program in Oregon that seeks to build long-term relationships between librarians and patrons.
One of the things I’ve become accustomed to hearing since entering library school is how the job market is practically hopeless and how technology and the internet have played a large part in this, but I cannot just accept that it is so simple. At one point in the article the author states, “All the technological bells and whistles a library can employ are pretty much worthless if there’s no one minding the store.” As information professionals we must be advocates for the importance of our careers and think creatively about how technology can contribute to our work instead of how it can endanger it. Although I am sure not all of the projects discussed in this article will end up being successful, they will hopefully pave the way for more innovative initiatives in the future.