Monday, December 1, 2008

Long live the library revolution;

Long live the library revolution

I like the Guardian. I think the writers do a decent job and I enjoy the British perspective as well as their highlight of non-US writers. Also, I typically cheer on articles on libraries from mainstream and diverse publications.  It is not my purpose to belittle this article however there were a couple of items that bothered me as a librarian to which I would like to add some clarification.
1) The blogs mentioned are not the best representation of librarian blogs.The blog Lipstick Librarian mentioned in the article has posted little to anything helpful on libraries in the past two months. Free Range Librarian presents interesting topics but it's not really helpful for items dealing with library issues. These are not blogs that I would read for help or input. I would suggest Library Juice which is both a press and an excellent, fully encompassing library blog. Librarian.net features the writings and thoughts of librarian consultant Jessamyn West; this is a well-developed and helpful site. Librarian in Black, while having the hands-down, coolest name, also has provides updated technological and librarian related items. These blogs represent a much better cross-section of librarian thoughts and writing that I think truly represent the thinking for the "new breed of librarians".
2) The first sentence of the last paragraph of the article states: "Librarians are the gatekeepers and guides to a world in which information is now in abundance and the democratization of access to it is of ever-increasing importance." I would disagree; librarians no longer function as gatekeepers. This is a role they used to hold but have been forced to re-examine that role because of the abudance of information. People are now their own gatekeepers. Historically, the library functioned as the bank of information for most families, especially those from middle-income and lower income families. Patrons utilized libraries to access information that they could not find elsewhere. They queried the library staff, who acted as portals, to attain the information they needed. This relationship helped to cause librarians to see themselves as guardians of information rather than its purveyors. The true revolution in librarianship has been the continued transformation of library services to stay relevant, useful and informative. Librarians now act as filters and directors; along with locating print sources, librarians also are helping patrons to understand how to better comprehend and evaluate their search results as well as pointing them to good search methods. Our goal is not to guard information but to give the best access to the best possible information.
The library is admitteldy an odd place that functions in a way that is quite different than most other institutions in the 21st century. While public libraries and school libraries require tax dollars and public support to function and academic libraries must wrestle with the institutions' budget to gain their funds, they offer a unique range of services that are not available anywhere else. Libraries exist to serve and those libraries who truly understand their purpose continue to evaluate and re-evaluate their offerings in order to better understand how their patrons view the changing world of information retrieval. That is the library revolution.


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