Wednesday, December 07, 2005

T. Scott: Librarian 5.0

From T. Scott Plutchak's excellent blog: :

What strikes me about much of the Library 2.0 discussion is how library-centric rather than user-centric it is. Ten years ago, when I first took this job, in one of my very first presentations to my new colleagues, I said,

Our job is not to build a better library. Our job is figure out how to make the very best use of our particular skills, tools, talents and abilities to help the people in our community do a better job of getting and managing the information that they need. Sometimes that means that we'll be doing things that everybody expects from libraries, but sometimes it means we'll be doing things that nobody ever associated with a library. And sometimes it means we'll stop doing 'library' things, because they're not really the things that our people need the most.

What strikes me about much of the writing on Library 2.0 is that the writers haven't yet quite clued in to the fact that the library itself is just a tool. For centuries, ever since those ancient Sumerians started trying to figure out how to store the clay tablets from one harvest to the next so that they could report back to the king how many barrels of beer they'd brewed compared to last season, having a place to store the records -- a library -- and effectively managing it (with the latest technology available) has been central to how librarians served their communities. The radical shift we are now facing is that, for the first time in human history, librarians need no longer be constrained and defined by the walls of the library.

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