Cory Doctorow Answers Those “Blowhards” Who Ask Why We Still Need Libraries
The problem is that Mr. Blowhard has confused a library with a book depository. Now, those are useful, too, but a library isn’t just (or even necessarily) a place where you go to get books for free. Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world.
What I especially like about this article is how it does not overemphasize one single role that will completely define tomorrow’s librarian. Instead it lists several equally important and interrelated missions.
There are those that focus on the “Maker” revolution, others on the importance of curation in an age of information overload, still others that focus on nurturing the community hub that libraries have become. All of these have absolute validity, which is why Doctorow is correct in labeling the skeptics as “blowhards.”
Sometimes I can become so consumed with predicting the future, that I forget things have never been “either/or.” Recently, I’ve been part of several “maker” conversations, and it is tempting to declare makerspaces to be THE future of libraries. In these moments it is important to regularly remind myself that the modern librarian is no different than the traditional librarian. We have always worn multiple hats. The exciting part is when we get to update and diversify our selection of said hats.*
Damn right libraries shouldn’t be book-lined Internet cafes. They should be book-lined, computer-filled information-dojos where communities come together to teach each other black-belt information literacy, where initiates work alongside noviates to show them how to master the tools of the networked age from the bare metal up.
*I should clarify that my hat analogy is just that- an analogy. I find absolutely no pleasure in hat shopping.