Late last month, David Warlick asked his readers how they would respond in one minute if they were asked why librarians are still relevant in schools. David's not a librarian, so many of the comments came from folks who aren't librarians either, which offers a bit of refreshing air to the conversation. There are currently 42 responses, very few actually answering the question, but most, as you'd expect, very supportive of librarians. Here are my favorites:
#13, Emily Valenza wrote (and it seems to me I've seen this analogy before, but maybe not), "If information is a jungle, the internet would be the tourist guidebook written by a person who has never been there. A librarian would be the guide who has lived there all his/her life. Sure, the guide book would give you some interesting possible facts about the jungle, but the librarian would get you through that jungle safely, and using the most efficient route while pointing out anything you'd want to know along the way."
I also liked Tony Doyle's comment (#18) noting "the disconnect between what people think they know about information and what they actually know." and Heather Hartman-Jansen (#21), who as an ex-teacher wishes she had someone like her (now a librarian) to help her find information and extend the learning opportunities she provided her students... Bob Moore (#36) suggests "Many users know their little part of the world and are comfortable searching in their known world. When they have to move beyond their known world, as they all periodically must, and in five minutes realize Google ain’t doing it for them, that’s when they call the librarian. Or, as I once promoted in a research facility, “If after 15 minutes you haven’t found what you need, seek professional help.”
Only one person, Stephen Downes (#7) suggested librarians might want to step back and regroup, coming back as organizers of local knowledge produced at the school or university. He points out that "librarians play a vital role in supporting each institution's contribution to open access. By supporting open access, institutions can save the money they spend on books and periodicals. This helps support the hosting of institutional archives, and helps the institution spend more time and money on the production of quality scholarship."
I was initially surprised that nobody responded to Stephen, but then decided it's because folks were addressing school librarians, and Stephen really seems to be talking about academic librarians. What do you think about Stephen's suggestion?
Along this same line, if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to look through 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important.
Technorati Tags: librarians, obsolescense