Are We in a 21st Century Library Paradigm Shift?

Good question! What do you library professionals think?

In my opinion we are. However, it is different from the paradigm shift we all discussed 15 years ago that was a result of the introduction of the Internet and WWW into the average American office, university, school and home. That shift was essentially about delivery of library services. There wasn’t much change in philosophy of library and information science, but it changed delivery of library information from on-site to on-line. The concern that the WWW would replace librarians was exaggerated and didn’t materialize, because we retained our role as “information specialists” who knew the How and What of information retrieval and evaluation better than others. Everything evolves, from card catalogs to OPAC, but that shift was mostly about delivery.

Today there are different factors influencing the library profession that make a paradigm shift inevitable and essential, based on my assessment of the literature. The most profound factor is the change evolving among youth toward information literacy that will challenge librarians’ “information specialists” role. Within the next 10 years librarians will not be the ONLY “information specialists” who are able to retrieve and assess information. (See 21st Century Library Issues – Revisited.)

As I wrote, I support increased information literacy because it contributes to a fundamental library tenant; to make a better informed citizenry.

I certainly agree with you that; “… this new data world will need sherpas. And that should be us.” It should be us, but it seems unlikely when you consider the 21st Century Skills movement in education, and look closely at what elementary school kids are being taught regarding ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).
Access and Evaluate Information
•Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
•Evaluate information critically and competently
Use and Manage Information
•Use information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
•Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
•Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information

See also my Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century post.

Here is some more food for thought based on some information that one of my colleagues put together. We can use some help filling in the 21st Century Paradigm elements.
Defining the 21st Century Library Paradigm

To be continued…………………………

1 Comment

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One response to “Are We in a 21st Century Library Paradigm Shift?

  1. The entry shows that you have done a thorough research on this topic. I hope to read some more of your blog posts in the future

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