Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Agnostic, Maybe - Dream Big

I was reading Andy Woodworth's post on Dream Big and his tweet which asked what are our dreams for libraries?  My dream is for libraries and librarians who are not afraid to try new technologies.  I would like to see libraries who are not afraid to be trendsetters instead of waiting to see what technologies will last long term.  With the technological landscape changing so rapidly in the last twenty, heck, even ten years, can we afford to wait a decade for applications to 'work out the kinks' before we adopt it?  If we are willing to try new things, we are better able to meet our customer needs.  Many of our users are tech savvy, and they expect the library to be on par with them.  If we are not, they will stop coming to us.  They will find the information and fulfill their needs somewhere else.  Instead of trying to force our users to adapt to what we feel are the proper protocols perhaps, and this is just a thought, we should adapt to our users' needs.  Revolutionary I know.

Looking at the other side of our customer base, if the librarians are tech savvy they are better able to help the customers who are being left behind by the digital divide.  Those who write or teach about reference often propose that use the reference interview as an opportunity to teach the patrons how to find the information rather than just hand them a book.  I propose that we also teach them how to use technology.  Many libraries have created a start by offering basic computer classes or computer tutoring, but let's embed it into our reference interview process.  As librarians, we should not be on the bottom or even in the middle of the digital divide.  After all, information is our business.

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