Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More on librarian roles

Some more thoughts on the CNN story about the future of libraries, on Michael Antman's ill-tempered dismissal of delusional librarians who are forsaking books for Facebook, Twitter and other hip technology,  and on the built-in obsolescence of the e-library. 
When I was a child, our good dentist Dr. Goldberg always rewarded a well-behaved session in the chair with a packet of sugarless gum. At that early age, I had no head for business (few would have imagined that I would go on to establish one of the internet's most widely read blogs!)  and it did not occur to me that Dr. Goldberg was undermining his own profession by promoting dental hygiene - as dentists generally do - and by giving sugarless gum to his patients. But Antman seems to be saying that librarians who favor new and in-demand technology/media at the expense of books,  are engaging in much the same kind of suicidal folly.  But isn't it commendable that conscientious practitioners of doomed professions make the most of technology to provide the very best service they can, even to the point of contributing to their own evolutionary demise? What wheelright worth his salt wouldn't be excited by pneumatic tires?  Wouldn't we be disappointed in a scribe who poopoo'd  moveable type?  No, if you ask me, Antman's call for librarians to ignore new technology is like asking a dentist to eschew sugarless gum! (forgive the long setup)

Silliness aside, I do think Antman's take on the rather innocuous CNN story about the changing role of the librarian is unnecessarily alarmist.  I just discovered a wonderful blog - the public-library-spirited "Radical Patron" (and  who better to remind us of the worth of libraries than a committed library patron?!) that has a perceptive analysis of the recent spate of articles about the new librarians (or "librarians," rather).  Those articles are more about what entertainment the media can wring out of a tired stereotype, than about what's happening in libraries.

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