Thursday, September 10, 2009
The Future of Libraries: A Library Student's Response
I figure I better jump on the bandwagon and blog about this because the rest of the library world sure is buzzing about it. I've read multiple blogs on the subject, talked about it in class, and been bombarded by it in my inbox through the various list-serves I subscribe to. What is it? It's an article that CNN posted on September 4th. Find the article here. Now I usually like CNN; it's the only cable news I watch and when I want up-to-date, happening now information it's where I go on the web. But I never thought that CNN would be behind the times.
Their story is an old one. The old library is out; the new library, or information center, is in. So? We know that. In fact, I've blogged about it in a variety of ways before. It was a huge aspect of this year's ALA conference. We discuss it at school. It's on the minds of librarians everywhere. So why is CNN just now realizing this? I can only speculate that it's because of the press libraries have received over the past few months. Library business (although not budgets) are booming. More and more people are turning to libraries in this time of need for free information and entertainment. Go here and here to watch news stories about the subject. With all of this press, I can only assume that reporters are more interested in looking at what goes in libraries and how they are changing. Old news, right?
CNN talks about the introduction of gaming centers, the increased reliance on the internet as opposed to print sources for reference help, and librarians blogging and tweeting. None of this is new; in fact, I've blogged about all of this, and I'm certainly not at the forefront of major change. The article also talks about librarians referring to themselves as "information professionals" or "information specialists". Now I don't know about you, but in my intro to LIS as a graduate student we talked about this concept. How librarians are information professionals because we access and provide information; but not all information professionals are librarians. The term is not interchangeable and I think any librarian worth her salt knows that difference.
So CNN is not breaking any new ground by publishing this story. It's old news, something librarians have known for quite sometime. Change isn't particularly groundbreaking in the library; as librarians we face that change everyday and deal with it as it comes. We're moving the books out to make room for more computers, adding the coffee shops to help students study better, creating gaming centers to attract teens. But what we're not doing is changing our principals. The library will always be a place where information can be found for free and without bias. No new technology or "hipster" librarian, or "information scientist" is going to change that. Now that's news worth reporting.