M.G.F. "This is a very delicate issue, and one that goes beyond age or experience. As in any field, there are librarians who embrace change and librarians who fear it. For many, this is no longer the same field they entered into 20 or more years ago, and for some people that is an exciting challenge while for others it is a threatening proposition. For people who are averse to change, the ideas proposed by “new” librarians must seem threatening, and it is easier to dismiss them than to rise to the challenge. A library run by change-averse librarians is likely not meeting the needs of its changing patron population. I also think this old idea of "paying dues" and marginalizing the contributions new librarians is less useful in an environment where rapid change is occuring. Obviously, most new librarians are not going to be making the big decisions at their library, but for a library director to not take their insights into account is bad business. First, you’re not going to have a loyal and passionate staff if you make them feel like their ideas and concerns are being ignored. Secondly, everyone who works in the library has something to bring to the table. Why ignore what may be a good idea because of who it came from? That is just as bad as a new librarian coming in and thinking s/he knows better than anyone else how a library should be run. And it's just as bad as a librarian with an MLS giving no credence to the insights of paraprofessionals who've been in the field 15 or more years because they don't have an MLS. Whether it’s ego or fear of change, it is bad for the library, for its staff, and for its patrons. It’s not about who knows more. We all have different things to offer. I may know more about technology than some people, but I know that I have a lot to learn from people about other aspects of librarianship. In a healthy library, it should be a give and take and the learning should never stop, no matter how much experience you have. I don't know if there is a "remedy", per se. It depends on the individual. People can change if they have some motivation. However, some libraries will have to wait for their change-averse Library Director to retire before they can approach any innovative ideas. That being said, there are plenty of Library Directors out there who have embraced technology and innovation from Day 1 and whose libraries continue to change as their service population changes. These are the sort of places where newer librarians will find challenging and satisfying positions."
A.B. How has technological integration affected the role of the librarian in your school. Are they the facilitators where you work?
M.G.F. "I actually just got my first job out of library school and will be starting in about a month. I will be a Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University (in Vermont), which is a new position and shows that Norwich has recognized the need for librarians who are conversant with the latest technologies. In schools where the IT staff is separate from the library staff and where the IT staff controls the technologies in the library, it is going to become increasingly important for the library to have employees with the tech-savvy to effectively communicate the library’s needs to IT. I am very excited to be employed at an institution that has embraced change and where I feel I can really make a difference."