A.B Meredith, I know you recently attended the ALA conference in Chicago. What did you come away with from your sessions? Were they what you expected?
M.G.F. "Like at any conference, I went to some really inspiring sessions and some that I got very little out of. All of the sessions I went to involved technology in some way, and at some I felt that the speakers really hadn’t kept up with current research in the field and were not concerned enough with the needs of their patrons (I think library technologies are often designed for the comfort of the librarian rather than the patron). However, when I went to the LITA Tech Trends program, I came out feeling electrified. The panelists talked about the future of e-reference services, Integrated Library Systems, the library’s web presence, collaborative tech tools, and data curation/preservation. The thought of moving towards better integration of all our electronic middleware, of streamlining and making things more usable for our patrons, really makes me feel excited about being a part of this profession. The main reason I wanted to go to the ALA Conference was to meet many of the amazing bloggers I’ve been corresponding with for the better part of a year. That was, by far, the best part of the conference."
A.B. How do you envision the role of the 21st century librarian? Is it a field worth venturing into?
M.G.F. "I absolutely think that librarianship is a field worth venturing into and I believe it is going to become increasingly attractive to people who maybe would not have been interested in the field 30 years ago. I think the goal of librarians will always be to hook users up with information, but how that will occur is changing and will continue to change. Our work is expanding to encompass information access issues, and librarians are now charged with the responsibility of facilitating access to electronic resources. Libraries are starting to become more user-focused and a lot of our work in the future will involve stripping away the layers of complexity and barriers to use that we (or the vendors) put into our electronic middleware. Also, rights management and digital preservation are becoming increasing concerns for librarians. At the same time, I see many libraries trying to strengthen their role as a community institution and are beginning to offer programming that was not traditionally offered at libraries. So I don’t think the tasks associated with traditional librarianship are going to disappear, but librarians do need to wear far more hats than they did 30 years ago.
Librarians really need to be conversant with the latest technologies and need to constantly reevaluate whether or not they are meeting the needs of their population. To me, this is an exciting time to become a librarian."