Dangerous statments for librarians to make

I recently stumbled upon  a great post by Doug Johnson: Dangerous Statements for Librarians to Make.  The two main dangerous themes that stuck out to me were the assumption that libraries and librarians will always exist as they are today and second, the assumption that librarians do not have to embrace technology.

My library is constantly looking for innovative ways to become more useful and ways to help patrons in their preferred environment.  That was the purpose behind researching data curation plans, looking into lending iPads and working out a new information literacy program.  As librarians, we must find new ways to make ourselves indispensable because as it stands, Google will make us obsolete if we don’t.  Evolution is nondiscriminatory: Become more efficient or be left behind.   Become more useful or become obsolete to those who are useful.  Evolve or die off.  From my standpoint, the librarians of the past are not necessary – Google out plays them.  Check out how the computer “Watson” out plays the best Jeopardy contestants: Supercomputer Vs. Humans.  We have to do more than just help people find answers.  Librarians bring context and and value to search results and librarians teach researching skills.  Evolve or let Watson take over.

Another amusing theme I’m finding in libraries is the refusal to embrace Google and a rejection of all things WIKI.  A good friend of mine (and an amazing librarian) Diane Fulkerson has been working with Google on their Google a Day project.  She posted the project on the ACRL list board and received negative feedback from other librarians.  Some (not all) librarians contended that the Google a Day project is not relevant to librarianship.  I just completed my Google for today and learned that the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico is the third largest crater and it was likely responsible for the death of the dinosaurs.  Google gives you search tips, interesting questions and creates a fun atmosphere to learn research skills -how is this not relevant to libraries? It is the same with using Wikis.  Can the information be altered? -yes.  Is the Wiki a good final resource? -no.  But Wikipedia is one of the best places to start your research because it will lead you to reliable resources.

Anyone can be replaced.  Anyone can become irrelevant.  Libraries and librarians are not exempt and we cannot hide behind the fact that it is generally fashionable for a society to enjoy having a library with knowledgeable librarians.  If we don’t make ourselves relevant, we will lose the grace our communities have given us.

Random interesting side note, check out this application of WATSON as it is found on IBMs website.


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