Get the latest articles and downloads sent to your inbox in a monthly newsletter.

Get the latest articles and downloads sent to your inbox in a monthly newsletter.

Defining a Librarian in the Information Age: Can it Be Done?

Joe Walsh, Elsevier | Dec 12, 2011

Quick, fill in the blanks:
 
A Librarian in the information age is most like a ____________________________ because ____________________________.
 
So what did you come up with? Not easy, is it? To narrow down the multitude of choices for these two blanks is a challenge when you consider how much librarians are expected to know and do in our always evolving information age. What I see out on social media only adds credence to this thought. On Twitter, for example, I’ve seen tweets from librarians that say their job description has changed or new responsibilities suddenly have fallen into their lap. To paraphrase one tweet from a librarian I recently came across: “I mentioned I use Twitter so now I’m suddenly the library’s social media marketing guru!” Can you relate? You might not be your library’s new social media marketing guru, but I’m sure you’ve had some unexpected job responsibilities thrown your way.
 
With that in mind, can you fill in the blanks yet?
 
A Librarian in the information age is most like a ____________________________ because ____________________________.
 
My asking you to fill in the blanks is not without reason. We just released the latest issue of the Library Connect Newsletter, themed “Librarian 2.0 and Beyond.” Just like there are seemingly endless choices to fill in the blanks above, there are limitless ways to define how to become, or what being, a “Librarian 2.0 and Beyond” entails.
 
According to Helen Partridge at Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia), being a librarian 2.0 is not just about learning new skills, but rather, how librarians view themselves and their profession. In other words, to borrow the headline of Helen’s article, “It's all in the attitude.” Hiroya Takeuchi from Chiba University in Japan echoes Helen’s sentiment when it concerns librarians needing to define their roles. In “The new role of librarians at Chiba University's Academic Link,” Hiroya says librarians need to move toward an active role in education and learning. From his point of view, this approach is one way — and perhaps the only way — to establish a solid professional foundation for librarianship in Japan.
 
With more than 30 years experience as a university librarian, M. Luisa Álvarez-de-Toledo at the Universidad de Oviedo (Spain) has witnessed many changes to the librarian profession. More importantly, however, she has embraced them. In “Librarians are engaging in new roles, such as helping to improve the discoverability and raise the impact of their researchers' academic publications,” Luisa says librarians’ day-to-day tasks have become more technical and specialized, and it's essential that new knowledge be embraced to best serve the university community. With that in mind, Luisa says three tasks have become prominent in her daily activities:
 
 
  • The promotion, evaluation and marketing of academic publications on the Internet, i.e., academic search engine optimization (SEO);
  • the development and creation of semantic content for Web 3.0; and
  • the application of social media tools in Web 2.0
 
Aaron Tay from the National University of Singapore also has embraced the opportunity to become more technical. In “To connect with today's library users, librarians need to implement and stay abreast of the latest communications technologies and tools,” Aaron admits he’s not a coder, but because librarians deal with information, he says “there is no getting away from the use of information technology.” Aaron also has embraced social media and now manages many of his library's social media and chat channels. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @aarontay.
 
By showcasing a selection of articles from our latest newsletter, you see there are so many ways to define librarian 2.0…and fill in the blanks. Rudy Leon from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may have summed this conundrum up best with her article’s headline, “Retooling library staff to take on the future, where a state of flux is the new normal.”
 
So have you thought of your answers yet? I want to know how you would fill in these blanks:
 
A Librarian in the information age is most like a ____________________________ because ____________________________.
 
You can send me your responses through Twitter @library_connect, post them on the Library Connect Facebook page, leave a comment here on the blog, or if you want to keep your answers confidential, email me at j.walsh@elsevier.com. Please send me your feedback by January 31. I plan on doing a follow up post in early February so I can share all the answers provided by you and your librarian colleagues.

Comments