Libraries, Librarianship, Librarians and the Future

There is a lot of talk about information these days. How to get, keep, organize, and limit it. But I’m drawing a line in the sand, what I am interested in working with is knowledge NOT information. When asked for definitions, of libraries, librarianship and librarians– I’m keeping it old school…somewhat. For me, a library has been and continues to be any space dedicated to the consumption and production of knowledge. Yes, information is part of the mix but a library is a place in which information is created into something else: knowledge. One goes to a library because it is where society’s knowledge is organized, stored, accessed, and used for purposes of pleasure, profession, random edification and whimsy. American librarianship was born out of a modernist desire to “provide good books” to the most amount of people with the least effort and to cultivate docile citizens but in the twenty-first century it has evolved into a democratizing profession predicated on supporting people, regardless of circumstance, context or predilection, in their pursuit of new knowledge in a range of forms. Librarians remain the stewards of knowledge. As our lives become increasingly digital and information overflows, guidance re: the use of knowledge will become that much more critical. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, Google can find you 100,000 answers, a librarian can find you the right one. Information doesn’t set you free, knowledge does.

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2 thoughts on “Libraries, Librarianship, Librarians and the Future

  1. I like this definition because I think it goes to the core of what it means to be a librarian. You can have a community, you can have a set of shared resources available to that community, but it is the librarian who help that community access/find/share information and knowledge.

  2. I really appreciate the Neil Gaiman quote. What good are the other 99,000 answers if they aren’t useful or helpful. It’s very thought provoking, and also a little overwhelming to think that even all those unhelpful answers need to be organized somehow.

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