The Future of the Library: A Short Response

Boy, I’m glad I stayed in touch with all things library related this weekend.  On Saturday 1/9/10, Seth Godin made this post about the future of libraries which then lead to a lot of really great input and discussion from other librarians (I’m thinking about Toby’s post over at The Analog Divide).  I highly suggest you read all sides of the story.  You’ll get a good look at the passion inside of the modern librarian.

I  could probably write the never ending blog post on Seth’s initial post but I’ll just focus on one thing I’ve been thinking about over the past day:

“What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.”

This particular comment really struck me about my role as a librarian.  It really made me realize that the approach of “provide something for them and they will come” may work for a time, but it won’t always work.  I’ve got to take the reigns and make something more.

It made me see that it’s not just about ordering books, putting on programs, and helping run the library.  As much as it scares me to think this, I am a teacher.  I am here to guide members of my community.  Through what?  Life.  In order to remain relevant, I must become a recognized face in the community….a face that people can trust, understand, and rely upon when they need something.

So what’s the solution?

I think that a lot of us get the idea that we need to be more than just the typical librarian….and we’re doing that.  We just need some help.

Working in a public library, I see a lot of my colleagues stuck behind a desk pushing outdated policies and ideas.  This is detrimental to our professional and what I consider to be one of the reasons why Seth Godin wrote his post.  We need to be pushed to think outside the box more.   Our administration/board members/community leaders need to give us the time and funding to allow us to become these 21st Century Sherpas.  Most of us are already there mentally.  We just need that push.



  1. This is such a refreshing discussion, and I think, Justin, you nailed right on the head. Our librarians need to be our beacons of knowledge, the “google incarnate”… as a citizen, we need media resources that help redefine what the libraries are about… a place for community organization; research whether books, Internet, journals; the “how to” desk for those who want to learn about science or how to approach your local congressman or indifferent teenager. LIBRARIANS, you hold the power to reach out to young and old, ignorant and knowledgeable…

    • I love the “google incarnate” idea! Perfect!

      This really reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about. Google never stops for a break, right? Neither should we.

      Once our shift is at the library, that shouldn’t be the end of it. That’s what makes our profession so wonderful. We are libraries whether or not we’re on the clock (or even employed!). I feel like I never take my librarian hat off. When I’m out in public, I’m still Justin The Librarian. I talk about the library. I let people know what we can do for them.

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