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Librarians, students, and the Future

May 18, 2011

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day. I can hardly believe we are to the middle of another week and I’m off on another research trip to the archives. So today, I just want to talk a bit about some of the stuff buzzing around the bibliosphere right now and leave you with some tasty recipes for your tea breaks.

So if you have been hanging around the blogosphere at all this week, you’ve probably already read Seth Godin’s, Future of the Library article. And hopefully you’ve also read the very well-written and balanced response by Agnostic, Maybe. I just have a few comments to make about Godin’s article that will hopefully not duplicate everything that’s already been written and why I think it is just as important for academic librarians to pay attention to what Godin wrote as it is for public librarians.

Yes, of course, Godin got some stuff about librarians and libraries wrong (in my opinion). Libraries are still needed, freely accessible resources are definitely needed, and the digital divide is still a real problem. But on the whole, Godin got it correct and some of his misconceptions about libraries can be chalked up to the failure of librarians and the library profession in general in marketing our services and resources.

Now some librarians do an excellent job in outreach and marketing efforts, but on the whole, we obviously don’t do enough. If we did, Godin (along with the majority of people) would realize that libraries subscribe to many online resources and databases that have the ability to blow Wikipedia out of the water and are able to make researching more efficient and effective. It’s not that we don’t have the resources, it’s that we don’t make people aware of them. I see this in my own library and in classes I teach where the instructor will tell me after that s/he had no idea we offered so much or could help in so many ways.

This ties into my last post about caring. We have to demonstrate that we care about our users and market our services, resources, and general awesomeness as librarians in ways that our users, be they a public library user or an undergrad in an academic library, find relevant. We are the awesome teachers, info curators, guides, and sages that Godin says we are and can be, but we need others to “get it.”

So instead of saying how Godin got it wrong, let’s use his post as a call to (more) action. He got some parts wrong, but so do most writers and people. His main message, that we need to use our talents to connect people with information to create value is right on the mark. I think that having people honestly write what they think about the future of the library and librarians is fantastic, especially by people outside of the profession. This makes us take a hard look at what we’re doing right and what we can improve on if we read such articles with an open mind and with an open heart looking towards improving ourselves and services instead of being defensive when obviously our message as librarians is not as clear, or as powerful, as some of us believe it to be. We need to become, in Godin’s words, a purple cow–something remarkable. I’m working everyday to make my work and interactions with people remarkable, are you?

Okay, that’s my two cents.

I just wanted to share one link from Lifehacker today on how clean up your digital life and manage information overload. Great article as always. Share it with your library users. They’ll thank you.

And finally, for some tasty fun, check out Joy the Baker’s post on love and sugar recipes. These are fabulous and, if all else fails in your marketing campaign for the awesomeness of librarians, bake ‘em cookies. Everyone is a fan of cookies.

Have a great rest of your day, help someone out, read something lovely, and I’ll be back on Friday with some tech stuff to share with your friends (family, library users, students, etc.). Allons-y!

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