If I needed to sum up this year’s Internet Librarian conference in one word, it would be:
And the word would have a few different meanings attached:
- Change in our users: a majority of our users are online every day. Those users visit our libraries online. They interact with our libraries online. And they want to do more online with our libraries.
- Change in our tools: Some libraries are successfully using Flickr, IM, iPods, RSS, Blogs, Wikis, Virtual Reference tools, APIs to add value and interaction to our automation systems, etc. More libraries should be doing this.
- Change in our librarians: this one’s the tricky one. There was even a session on this point today.
In some libraries, and with some librarians, the change to the “Google era” (for lack of a better term) has either taken place, or has at least begun. Those librarians have embraced the “new world” of social networks, the read/write web, online interaction with customers, and tools that spring up every minute… and have used them to better their libraries for their customers. There were 1100 attendees to the Internet Librarian conference, for example – and many of those attendees came to learn something new.
But that’s only 1100 librarians out of hundreds of thousands (at the least). There are still many libraries/librarians who have not embraced the Google era:
Where are the children’s librarians, who could be learning about the social networks their patrons are using right now?
Where are the reference librarians, who could be learning how to integrate new content into the collection?
Where are the library directors, who need to understand this new Google era so they can translate that understanding into goals and next actions for the library?
[ok David, take a breath… in and out, in and out]
Obviously, not everyone can make one conference. But that’s not really my point. My point is that our profession – young and old – needs to embrace these changes… and we aren’t. In some cases (cough.cough.Gorman.cough.cough), we’re running the opposite way.
And that’s the wrong way to run.