I’ve been saying for some time that the conditions of change are different this time.
While in the dentist’s office this morning I saw the Time Magazine cover “The Generation Changing the World”. The author writes “…there are two fundamental reasons the tensions that have been let loose in the Middle East over the past few weeks are unlikely to disappear, and they encompass two of the most powerful forces changing the world today: youth and technology.” [Emphasis added.]
Let me state unequivocally that this is NOT a political commentary. I am simply illustrating a comparison between my views on the external factors influencing the librarian profession and world events.
In 1995 when the WWW became accessible to the general public, librarians were very concerned that it would cause reference services to become obsolete. As I’ve noted,
… the paradigm shift we all discussed 15 years ago … 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.
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. (Are We in a 21st Century Library Paradigm Shift?)
Today, youth and technology are the reasons that the librarian profession will be changed forever. Youth who are being educated with information, communications and technology literacy will have the capabilities that their parents did not to do their own information searching and selecting. Technology that youth are growing up with that their parents did not have will provide more information, more access to it, more choices of information providers and more information format choices than ever in history.
Are you ready to acknowledge and embrace the changes that youth and technology are causing in the librarian profession?