There have been a lot of discussions out there on the internet (like this one) and on the class forums about whether or not the physical book is dying, and whether libraries will die with it. What I can’t understand is why libraries and librarians seem to be inextricably linked in the minds of so many people. Aren’t we in the information business? And can’t information be found in a multitude of sources? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m so new to this field that keeps me from seeing this association. I only decided to get my MLS just over a year ago and had never considered being a librarian (as a profession) before then. I never even spent that much time in libraries before college. So don’t have those fond memories of the traditional library, and that isn’t the reason I chose this area of study.
It seems to me that the thing that has the most potential to bring about the death of libraries is librarians inability to change with the times, their unwillingness to give up their romanticized notions of book-filled libraries. We need to able to meet all the information needs of our users, and this may mean spending fewer resources on actual books and focusing instead on more digital access. Our ethical code tells us that it’s not supposed to be about us, what we want, or how we would like to see our libraries. And even though research shows that librarians have embraced this idea when it come to their physical collections (and even overcompensate to some degree), we don’t seem to be able to get on board with the idea when it comes to the overall makeup of our libraries’ resources.
There’s another blog post I read recently that talks about the same basic concept, though it applies to a more specific topic. It brings up the issue of failure and how especially now we have to be willing to make mistakes and to learn from them. Part of adapting is trying new products and ideas and finding out what works for our institution and community. If we’re afraid of change, then we will die.