In today’s information-rich world, knowledge is literally at our fingertips. With a few keystrokes into a smartphone or computer, we’re inundated with Google results – ideas, opinions, and so-called “facts.” Author Neil Gaiman once said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Librarians are trained to listen to users’ needs and to connect them with specific information, resources or services. Librarianship is about human interaction and that can mean at the reference desk, through one-on-one instruction, storytelling or teaching a computer session. Librarians and staff are key players in helping the community integrate technology into their lives. Librarians help people with the e-book readers, show them how to navigate online job applications and government forms, teach students how to create videos and use multimedia, teach grandparents how to Skype with faraway family, assist people with handheld devices, access digital content, perform genealogy research yet still place emphasis on developing young readers.
Librarians and staff are digitizing collections and preserving local and family histories. They answer questions via chat reference services; they use social media to connect with their communities and teach others to use social media. Librarians help people find resources for relaxation while helping others gain information to deal with shifts in the workplace and the economy. Meanwhile, people still count on librarians for suggestions on great reads or the latest books.
R. David Lankes in The Atlas of New Librarianship says that the mission of today’s librarians is to “improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” He describes a new librarianship based on knowledge, learning and conversation.
Re-engage at your library today! Librarians and staff are serving thousands of Hoosiers in schools, public libraries, colleges, universities, and special libraries. And they also look outside of their buildings to identify community experts for programming needs as they seek to enrich and restore conversations in their communities. In 2013 there were just under 37 million visits to Indiana’s public libraries. Public and school library directors have shown tremendous resourcefulness in serving their communities on tighter and tighter budgets. With strong community support and continued leadership, Indiana’s libraries will remain vital, welcoming institutions for information, democratic discussions and lifelong learning.
Susan Akers, Executive Director, Indiana Library Federation