Sunday, October 3, 2010

Times Are (Still) A-Changin' for the Librarian:

As Kathy Clair pointed out, over ten years ago Abbott informed us that our profession (not semi-profession, thank you) was rapidly changing and we better hold on. It was a time when the production of electronic information was put into the hands of the public, and also a time when our profession was no longer as straightforward as the dentist's next door. There was a time when a library was filled with paper and books and we knew exactly how to find what was requested. In fact, you had to ask the librarian for help searching for more complex materials, like our dear friend Cookie Monster:
Although we'll probably refrain from offering cookies in the library (even though my dentist offers them in the lobby -- job security?), we do offer new ways of obtaining information outside of the physical book.  Although Abbott suggests that these cultural forces are creating opportunities for those skilled outside of the library profession, in the areas of "audiovisual" and computer technologies, to swoop in and take our jobs, I look at it as an opportunity to beef up our skill sets as librarians. You see it in library MLS programs today, with more focus being placed on the technical side of things. At the end of the day, we are still providing information and navigating those technical waters so our patrons can easily find what they are looking for. We must be familiar with various technologies and digital tools in order to fulfill our responsibilities as librarians as laid out in the ALA Bill of Rights. If I were Cookie Monster's librarian, I wouldn't become frustrated that I couldn't provide a cookie, I would simply print him out a map so he can get to the nearest bakery. (Or is there an app for that?)

Since I'm interested in museum work I found the American Association of Museums Code of Ethics:
I think AAM neatly outlines what I was trying to explain above in regard to libraries -- at the end of the day we are still doing our absolute best to help the patron find information in a changing environment and it's important to keep these codes and responsibilities in mind: "Ethical codes evolve in response to changing conditions, values, and ideas. A professional code of ethics must, therefore, be periodically updated. It must also rest upon widely shared values. Although the operating environment of museums grows more complex each year, the root value for museums, the tie that connects all of us together despite our diversity, is the commitment to serving people, both present and future generations."

1 comment:

  1. First of all, thank you for posting this great Cookie Monster clip. I agree with you that the easily-provoked librarian nowadays should have provided Cookie Monster with more information, instead of refusing to help his request for cookies! Maybe they want small children to know what kinds of questions librarians prefer? Anyway, that type of uptight librarian is changing-for the better.

    As I'd like to be a technical librarian, it really does seem like the MLS program here focuses more on what the future of libraries is and that librarians will work with both traditional materials and computers. Your museum code of ethics does a nice job of explaining that as times change, the librarian/curator's job is always to be one step ahead of the curve; to be sure that they know what trends are changing and how to judge them appropriately. Not always an easy task.