technologyThis morning I attended a fascinating talk at New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Science Library (yes, the library with the lions) by Michael Stephens, an instructor at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library & Information Science. His message was “The Hyperlinked Library,” and it sat firmly in the Library 2.0 chair. It was time for libraries to embrace their users, their needs, and their experiences now that we’re in a time in which everyone can generate online content, he said. Stephens barely mentioned children’s services, but there was plenty for us who do work with kids, parents, and teachers to think about.

What makes a “Librarian 2.0,” he asked? We need to:

-Evolve

-Let go of control, and

-Be visible

We should be scanning the horizon for trends and wondering what our users will be asking for next. We need to be where the users are, not necessarily only behind our own desks and only in our own buildings. I know that we librarians often like to chuckle among ourselves about how demanding our users can be and how they ask for things we don’t provide, but Stephens quoted Karen G. Schneider, who once said, “The user is not broken.”

Every library should assemble an “emerging technologies group” and invite people of all levels in the staff to participate. Every library should be training everyone on its staff in all the technologies the library’s currently using. Libraries, he said, should be open, decentralized, and participatory.

I’ve heard most of what Stephens said before from other people who also care about the future of libraries, but it’s good to be reminded. Our role as guides to the best and most suitable information will never change, but many of the tools we use in that role are shifting around constantly. (Case in point: remember the static Web of 1997?) People with a lot of time invested in their careers often grow fearful of change, and need to be reminded that change will always be with us.

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