Saturday, November 03, 2007

Blog Surfin' for Ideas

Some weeks I come to the process of blogging with an issue I want to discuss, or at least comment on. Other times I surf the feeds I’ve subscribed to via Bloglines, hoping to be inspired. This week is one of the latter, and two postings, one thoughtful and one humorous, are worth commenting on. First, from Infoblog, some of the “Prognostications from CLA 2007, Part 1”, and my thoughts thereon:
In the future…
*Library users will choose from a variety of convenient borrowing plans – enabling them to check out more items for a shorter loan period, or fewer items for a longer loan period, or have all materials due on the same day each month, etc.
*Retiring baby boomers will demand elaborate summer reading programs for adults.
*The library will become a primary destination for consumer health information and services such as flu shots, well baby clinics, etc.
*Libraries will broaden – and improve - their pool of applicants for customer service jobs by omitting the word "library" from recruitment ads.
*Demand-based dynamic shelving algorithms will replace the Dewey Decimal System
Inspired and creative thinking like this is essential if libraries are to survive, and remain relevant as society evolves. While I was unemployed in the summer of 2006, a friend, who had just graduated from IUPUI – SLIS, talked me into enrolling, saying that someone with my combination of computer skills and a strong customer service ethic would be a valuable contributor to the profession. In a cynical mood, I asked if Google and the Internet would make libraries irrelevant, or would there really be a job for me when I graduated. I’ve learned that what I thought was an either-or proposition turns out to be a kind of “both-and” choice. We all know the inroads Google has made into areas such as ready-reference. So, how else do we get patrons in the door, and expose them to the variety of resources we offer that are not easily or not at all available at their fingertips? We possess the tools and skills to make the power of information available to all. Why not tie this in with community services such as flu-shots and well-baby clinics? Our local Boys and Girls Club has a mini-branch of the library within. Why not put mini-branches in daycare centers, with specialized resources for parents? Or in malls, with Consumer Reports, fashion magazines, and money-management resources prominently displayed?
Yet, I am no different from any other job-seeker. I want this degree to guarantee me a position that pays decently, and will last many years. Otherwise, why spend all the money and time to get an advanced degree? Truth be told, as I look at the richness and diversity in the library science profession, even when I am (hopefully) awarded an up-to-date MLS, I feel like a surfer who has missed most of the good waves of the day, and the seas are beginning to calm. Do I have to run twice as hard as those already in the field, fighting and clawing my way through crowds of tech-savvy, highly experienced professionals, just to find my niche? Sure, there are libraries out there that are farther “behind the times” than I am; but will they even be interested in the education and skills I have to offer? I can be as averse to risk as anyone, but I would prefer to work in a place where such aversion is the exception, rather than the norm.
In the future…
*The majority of new library construction will be "green" – and LEED certified.
*Libraries will take steps to become carbon neutral.
For a profession that saw the advantages for organizing information, I say, “It’s about time!” When I first joined ALA and subscribed to the Social Responsibility Round Table, I thought that this was what they would be all about: challenging the profession as a whole to call for environmentally sound practices. I will celebrate the day when libraries actively strive to be “green” and carbon neutral.
In the future…
*Library users will schedule personalized reader’s advisory sessions with a "reading coach."
Watch this YouTube video for a humorous interpretation of this one. (If I can’t end my blog with thoughtful questions, at least it will end with a laugh!)


1 comment:

Mary Alice Ball said...

The library that made that video is not that far away from me. It has a great reputation and a big budget. I thought it was funny, in part because everyone was decidely middle-aged - not at all what I would consider the typical YouTuber.

As for Joan Frye Williams prognostications, I think she's done better in the past. What does "demand-based dynamic shelving algorithms" really mean? Are we talking compact shelving type systems? I think she was trying to be too cutely, techie. IMHO