The continuous advances in technology have been changing the way we live and the way we work for quite a while now. This applies to almost any field of work out there. So, has technology impacted the role of librarians? If so, in which way? In this article, we will try to answer these questions by comparing the functions that used to be associated with librarianship with the ones that seem to be required nowadays for performing this job.
New information and communication technologies have had direct consequences in communication, culture, society, and politics, among other things. The unprecedented progress of these technologies comes with new opportunities for reaching the highest levels of progress. New information and communication technologies are reducing lots of traditional obstacles, such as time and distance. The potential use of these technologies can result in the benefit of millions of people around the World! Libraries must be the first to embrace these changes, in order to help and support the growth of communities. Libraries have always represented progress, anywhere in the world, which is why a library with technology must develop information skills and competences in its users. As current users are not the same ones as last century’s users, current librarians should not be the same either.
The job of a modern-day librarian is completely different compared to what it used to be associated with in the past. It can be said, in general, that the fundamental competences that were considered necessary for librarians before the technological revolution and the internet were these:
- To guard books and the documented material of the library.
- To execute the documented process in order to maintain the library in order, accessible and organized.
- To maintain an updated catalogue, which is a fundamental tool to know the characteristics and situation of the bibliographical fund.
- To give consultations and access to the bibliographical information available at the library.
- To loan books and facilitate the usage of free circulation materials, as well as to give access to materials that cannot be loaned, such as consultation and reference guides.
- To control the usage of the collection and watch for its care and maintenance.
- To prioritize the consultations of the bibliographical fund for the students or researchers and to promote reading among the children, always taking into account the specific characteristics of the library’s users.
All of these attributes and qualities were valid until a few years ago. And even though some of them remain valid nowadays, most of them have become obsolete or insufficient. The three new premises on which the excellence of a librarian needs to be founded nowadays are:
- Information: understood as the communication or acquisition of knowledge that allow to broaden or precise the information in a specific subject. It is understood that information is stored and communicated in lots of different supports. This information is the first pillar over which librarianship stands.
- Treatment, organization, and updated maintenance of information: the information that a library has, disposes of, and facilitates needs a specialized treatment, which is the one that the librarian performs every day. Of course, these treatment processes change and evolve as the way of sharing knowledge and information changes.
- Broadcast and social projection: without users who need the information, libraries would have no reason to exist. This is why the social service projection to the community is another fundamental pillar in this profession. It is also necessary to know and manage the different ways to give access to information, the documented processes and updating of both processes, the broadcasting of the offered service and its communication to the society. Libraries are no longer silent temples of knowledge and have now turned into privileged places for accessing information and the interrelation of the growing diversity of the users who make use of it.
So, the role of librarians has actually changed quite a lot due to advances in technology. The way the librarian profession is being taught has therefore also changed and evolved. New Masters of Library and Information Science, such as this one, have become available, focusing on different and specific skills that are required for a modern-day librarian. If you think you have what it takes to be a librarian in this challenging and evolving new era, enroll now at an MLS course and make your dreams come true!