Week 2:The Future of the LIS Professional

Having set up my Personal Learning Network by subscribing to Google Reader blogs I am becoming more of the current issues that library and information professional are facing. There has been a lot of talk about the changing roles of both public and academic libraries. State funding has been cut in Californian public Libraries and circulation patterns are declining in academic libraries. The Free-range Librarian blogged about how the future role of the academic library is that of a sanctuary. Not as in a place that is eternally quite but somewhere that is steeped in the symbolism associated with libraries – where people feel safe reading, studying and doing research. This trend can be seen in UCD libraries where a very small percentage of the stock is in circulation and most people visit the library to study and write assignment. The future of the public library is seen as taking on the role of the 21st century community centre where people can gather and learn and be creative. So if this is the future of the academic and public library – as sanctuaries and community centres then there will not be a need for librarians and information professionals to work in these places as the job can just as easily be done by a none professionals. Of course the people who work in these future libraries will need to have many skills but they don’t necessarily have to be trained in information services. So what is the future for the trained librarian and information professional?

Well it seems that while the future of library buildings will move away from the traditional role of lending books the future of library services is another matter. With the introduction of e-books and journals a lot of library services have gone online. In fact the NLI virtual library visits now exceed actual visits and most of the information students need in academic libraries can now be found in virtual form. The people who run these online services will still need to have professional qualifications and will need to keep up to date with changing technology.

I’m really only starting to become familiar with the issues the profession faces and am finding subscribing to blogs to be a great way of keeping up to date. I keep hearing that in order for the profession to survive librarians themselves need to clearly express why the services they offer are so important but there are so many different kinds of librarians who work in different kinds of libraries and offer different services that they all seem to be affected by different issues. For an MLIS student like me with limited experience in a few areas of library work I’m not sure if it’s better to focus on a specific area of the information profession to become very knowledgeable about or to try to make my focus as general as possible considering the state of the current jobs market. Hopefully the next few classes and keeping up to date with my PLN will help me to see things more clearly!


4 responses to “Week 2:The Future of the LIS Professional

  1. great reflection, Julie. I can really see you bringing issues together and trying to make sense of what it all means. This is a great question and one we should all keep talking about throughout the semester:

    “For an MLIS student like me with limited experience in a few areas of library work I’m not sure if it’s better to focus on a specific area of the information profession to become very knowledgeable about or to try to make my focus as general as possible considering the state of the current jobs market.”

  2. Hello Julie,

    You make a good point about differentiating between what current changes may mean to the physical nature of libraries as opposed to library services. I believe the physical context of a library may indeed change but the roles core to it (info management, storage etc.) will remain largely unchanged. I think this is will be an increasingly important point to keep in mind as things progress. Do you think that librarians are going to become essentially tied to technology in the near future (and is this any different to being tied to a book, also a piece of technology!)?


    • dabblingindigitalmedia

      Hi Patrick,
      That is certainly interesting to think of a book as a piece of technology that is becoming outmoded. Accessing information electronically is such a new phenomenon that I think it will take a while before it catches on on a mass scale. But as we have seen with the way we listen to music, which has changed so many times over the past few decades, accessing information electronically will inevitably catch on. Sure people will still want to read and collect actual books but I think it will be for the same reasons that people still buy vinyl – that they like to collect them and that they think the experience of listening to them is a better one. But even though vinyl undoubtedly sounds better people still choose to listen to mp3’s these days because it’s easier. So I think that in the future people will want to access information digitally because it’s easier and because of this librarians will need to be up to date with new technology and have pretty good IT skills. But then again isn’t every job these days becoming more and more reliant on technology so I suppose it’s inevitable really!

  3. A cosy library full of tantalising books on a free afternnon can indeed feel like a “sancturary”.

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