Many of us take for granted that books were once our primary form of information technology. While librarians of old only needed basic knowledge about the author, subject matter and title, modern librarians have to become masters at retrieving and organizing knowledge in order to be efficient. In addition, they have to learn how to use all the new tools being introduced to mine and retrieve data.
The Changing Face of Libraries
New users of libraries are very different than they were not too long ago. It wasn’t uncommon for libraries to have no internet access only 20 years ago. The advent of new technologies such as discovery and search tools were gradually introduced as the first computer systems entered libraries.
Modern users of libraries still demand specific materials, but libraries are increasingly becoming media centers. This means modern library workers need a completely different set of skills than their predecessors, which has prompted many current librarians to seek an online master of information degree to stay with the times.
As a matter of fact, according to a recent study, 97% of public libraries at the moment offer standard Wi-Fi access for mobile devices and are also equipped with connected terminals. In addition to connectivity, new users are also in need of experiential learning and many new libraries are now moving in this direction.
How Technology is Transforming the Publishing Industry
Technology is also profoundly transforming the way books are published. Since modern libraries are increasingly going for digital content, we can expect more eBooks to make an appearance in our libraries. And projects like Google Library could lead to completely digitized libraries in the near future, virtually eliminating the publishing industry as we know it.
Others are trying to bridge the gap between physical books and technology. North Carolina State University’s James B Hunt Library has a section that is completely operated by robots. In this part of the library, which is referred to as “robot alley”, there is nothing but empty shelves. All books are created on the go by robots that follow specific instructions from users.
Should Digitization Be Embraced?
Digitalization has many advantages over traditional books that should not be overlooked. While librarians of the future will need a wider set of tools, libraries will gradually transform into centers of learning and slowly shed their old image as a mere repository of books. Librarians who want to remain competitive will also increasingly need to become information literate, as this article from Rutgers Online master of information program demonstrates.
So what can we expect for the future of digitization and libraries? Well, we can only expect more libraries to fully embrace the digital revolution and gradually move towards an almost fully digital experience. The day we see a completely paperless library may come sooner than later, as digital data allows libraries more stocking options, as well as offering easier to manage research and discovery tools. This will ultimately lead to fewer overhead costs, which might prompt officials to move toward a full digitization of school libraries and other state controlled libraries across the board.
What Do You Think?
Though automation can assist in relaying information out to a larger audience, maintaining some human interaction through preservation of human librarians can then be offered as an added attraction for some larger libraries. What do you think?