Daily Archives: January 24, 2011

Librarianship Is The Foundation

It seems a no-brainer that librarianship is THE foundation of any library model, regardless of what or when it exists. “21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries” is what I call a truism.

I have expended many hundreds of words professing the importance of librarianship in creating a 21st Century Library. But, what exactly does that mean? What is 21st Century librarianship?

One example is from University of Michigan Library: The Future of Libraries.

1) The 21st Century librarian is both a user and producer of technology to better understand and achieve improved library services.

Another example is this school librarian.

2) The 21st Century librarian is a master of information literacy who relies on that skill to enhance advanced reference services.

Is “Google” technology the enemy of the 21st Century librarian?

3) The 21st Century librarian understands ALL types of information resources and relies on that knowledge to select the BEST resource for the customer’s information needs.

An even better example of the future librarian is Master Yoda.

4) The 21st Century librarian relies on technology to enhance advanced thinking, rather than relying on just what is contained in a collection.

Six months ago I found no prominent SLIS with 21st Century anything in their curricula. Some incorporate Library2.0 type topics in some courses, but, again, they offer no coherent approach to a 21st Century librarianship concept. One thing that appears obvious is that SLIS are lagging well behind any movement toward 21st Century librarianship. The limited information that does exist is basically “Library2.0” technologies that lack any comprehensive theory for application, or cohesive direction toward specific goals of creating a 21st Century Library.

The role of librarian as information gatekeeper (previously the exclusive skill of librarianship) is eroding away under the flood of Millennial library patrons armed with advancing technology (with which they are already more competent than most librarians) who are becoming their own gate keeper.

The nearly overwhelming challenge of 21st Century librarianship is learning and knowing everything that is required to be the professional keeper and provider of the “ocean of information” that library customers are swimming in today. In addition to knowing everything there is to know about information literacy, information technology, and the information profession, the 21st Century librarian also needs working skills to address these issues.

One important point to reiterate!
No one is suggesting that ALL librarians must know or understand ALL new technologies and library skills. What is important is that when 21st Century librarians recognize a service need their customers have, they should know how to most appropriately fill that need and best accomplish their library’s mission.

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